How Long Does Heroin Stay In Your System?
When someone is receiving addiction treatment, one common question is, “how long does heroin stay in your system?” The half-life of heroin is fast, which means it can be processed through the body relatively quickly. When taking an average dose of heroin, the typical half-life of heroin is between two to six minutes. However, heroin in the body will likely still be detected in a heroin drug test for much longer.1
What is Heroin, and How is it Processed in the Body?
Heroin is a powerful and very addictive opioid drug. Heroin is made from morphine, a natural substance taken from opium poppy plants. Heroin is a fast-acting substance. With the average heroin dose, effects will be felt within forty-five seconds to two minutes after taking the drug. Opioid drugs like morphine, heroin, and prescription opioid painkillers are highly addictive.2
The effects of heroin addiction can negatively affect someone’s life in many ways, which makes proper addiction treatment vital, so those struggling with morphine, heroin, or other opioid addiction can fully recover.
When heroin is taken, it is processed through the body and metabolized into morphine. The morphine heroin compound then binds to the opioid receptors in the brain and produces a high. These substances that act on opioid receptors in the brain create feelings of euphoria, pain suppression, and drowsiness, leading to delusions or hallucinations.3
Drug Testing for Heroin
Heroin testing can be conducted in various ways, and there are different reasons why a heroin drug test may be used. Knowing whether heroin is in someone’s system is essential during addiction recovery to provide accountability. Heroin testing is regularly used during rehab programs for heroin addiction to ensure that individuals stay sober during the treatment process. Heroin testing may also be used in legal matters or drug tests for certain jobs.
A heroin urine test is one of the most common ways of detecting heroin in the body’s system. Detecting heroin in urine is the most common form of heroin testing because it is a low-cost drug test that is easy to administer. Typically, heroin in urine can be detected between one to four days after the last use.
Blood tests can also be used to detect heroin in the body. Blood tests for heroin are typically used following traffic accidents or overdoses. Blood tests can help distinguish between recent heroin use and the therapeutic intake of opioids for pain relief. Typically, heroin can be detected in the blood for up to six hours after use.
Saliva tests may also be used to detect heroin in the body. In some instances, detecting heroin in someone’s system through saliva can give a more accurate reading. However, heroin will only be detected in saliva for up to 24 hours after the last use, so saliva tests must be administered quickly.
Hair Follicle Tests
Hair follicle tests can be useful since they give a much more extended detection period for finding heroin in someone’s system. Hair follicle tests can detect heroin in the body for up to 90 days after heroin use.
Factors That Affect Detection Time
Many factors can affect detection time and how long heroin stays in the body. These factors will be detailed below.
Biological factors of the individual may affect how quickly heroin is processed through the body. Things like height, weight, and metabolism can all play a factor in the detection window of heroin in the body. Other individual factors such as a person’s eating habits, and activity level may also contribute to the detection window of heroin in the body.
Dosage and Frequency of Use
Dosage and frequency of use may also factor in how long heroin can be detected in your system. For the average dose of heroin, it will be processed through the body relatively quickly. However, for higher doses of heroin and more frequent use of the drug, it may take longer to leave the body’s system and can be detectable in drug tests for much longer.
Drug Purity and Drug Interactions
Drug purity and interactions with other drugs may also affect how quickly heroin is processed through the body. Polysubstance abuse is common in people who struggle with addiction, so drug interactions can often keep heroin and other substances in the body for longer.
Symptoms of Heroin Overdose
Because someone can build a tolerance to heroin, those who struggle with heroin addiction will likely take increasingly higher doses. When someone takes high doses of heroin, it can cause an overdose to occur. Common symptoms of heroin overdose include:
- Shallow, slow, or difficulty breathing
- Discolored tongue
- Low blood pressure
- Weak pulse
- Uncontrolled muscle movements
If someone is experiencing these heroin overdose symptoms, you should call 911 immediately to get them immediate medical attention.
How Do I Know if I am Addicted to Heroin?
Many signs can help you determine if you are struggling with heroin addiction. Understanding the signs of addiction can help you get the needed help to recover. Common symptoms of heroin addiction include:4
- confused thinking or disorientation
- difficulty making decisions
- dry mouth
- falling asleep suddenly
- feelings of heaviness
- flushed skin
- loss of self-control
- memory loss
- slow breathing
One of the common symptoms of heroin addiction is called “heroin eyes.” People who are struggling with heroin addiction will commonly have bloodshot eyes. Heroin-constricted pupils are also common in those who struggle with addiction. Heroin constricted pupils may appear as pinpoints. During a heroin overdose, the pupils may appear very small, so pinpoint pupils may also be a sign of an overdose or other more serious issues.
How is Heroin Addiction Treated?
The best way to treat heroin addiction is by receiving treatment at an addiction treatment center. One of the first steps in addiction treatment will be detoxing from heroin. Detox is the fastest way to get heroin out of your system, and addiction treatment centers can help you through every step of the detox process. After detox has been completed, therapy, support groups, and other activities to build life skills and coping mechanisms will help the individual learn how to manage the stresses of everyday life without using drugs.
Get Help for Heroin Addiction at Great Oaks Recovery
If you or someone you know is struggling with a heroin addiction, Great Oaks Recovery can help. Great Oaks provides evidence-based treatment methods for heroin addiction that lead to the best possible results. Treatment professionals at Great Oaks are well-educated and will be there to support you every step of the way during the treatment process. Contact us today for more information about how Great Oaks can help.