how long does heroin stay in your system wolf creek recovery
This entry was posted in Addiction, Opioids on by .

Do you have an upcoming job interview? Are you concerned about a potential drug test?

Millions of people are drug tested each year in the United States, and overall positivity rates hover around 4%. If you recently used heroin, you might be wondering how long the substance stays in your system. There is no simple answer—it all depends on the test being used, the frequency of heroin use, and individual factors.

Here in Arizona, heroin is a prevalent problem. So far in 2024, 320 opioid overdose deaths have been reported. Heroin contributes to that number. With the intensity of heroin withdrawal symptoms and the work that recovery requires, it can sometimes feel like continuing to use heroin is easier. This is an illusion – it’s what the substance wants you to think.

Wolf Creek Recovery in Prescott, AZ is changing the trajectory of people’s lives. Our staff is in recovery, so right off the bat, you are not alone. You will also get to meet many wonderful individuals who are in recovery and discover new ways to enjoy your time, such as with pickleball, softball, and basketball.

How long does heroin stay in your system? Let’s answer that question, and break down the various testing methods so that you can stay informed.

How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?

Heroin is a type of opioid made from morphine, a natural substance that comes from various opium poppy plants. It can be injected, sniffed, snorted, or smoked. All of these ways send heroin to the brain very quickly, causing effects almost immediately. The rush of pleasure that people experience makes the substance appealing, but the effects wear off quickly, usually within half an hour or so. What many people wonder is how long heroin actually remains in the system.

Heroin Duration and Half-Life

Half-life refers to the amount of time it takes for half of the substance in the bloodstream to be metabolized or eliminated from the body. This measurement helps determine how often a substance should be administered to maintain its therapeutic level in the bloodstream.

The half-life of a substance can vary greatly, from a few minutes to a few days depending on the chemical structure and the person’s metabolic rate, liver and kidney function. Other individual characteristics also play a part. Heroin has a half-life of around 8 to 22 minutes. This means that if you take 50 milligrams of heroin, 25 milligrams will be left in the body after 22 minutes.

How Is Heroin Metabolized in the Body?

Heroin metabolism in the body involves several stages that primarily occur in the liver. When heroin is taken, it’s rapidly metabolized by enzymes in the blood and liver into 6-monoacetylmorphine (6-MAM). This is what contributes to the psychoactive effects of heroin. 6-MAM is then metabolized into morphine, producing feelings of pain relief, euphoria, and relaxation. Morphine is then further broken down by the liver into other substances, which are excreted by the kidneys. This is a very fast process, which is why heroin has a quick onset of action.

how long does heroin stay in the body

How Long Does Heroin Stay in the Body?

How long heroin and its metabolites remain detectable in the body depend on the type of test used and individual physiological factors. Higher doses and more frequent use can extend the detection period because the metabolites can build up in the body. Individuals with faster metabolisms also tend to eliminate heroin more quickly. The liver and kidneys also play a role in how fast heroin metabolites are processed and excreted from the body.

How Long Heroin Stays in Your Urine

Heroin can be detected in urine for about 1 to 3 days from the last use. The detection window varies depending on several factors, such as the dosage, frequency of use, metabolic rate, hydration and diet, and overall health. 6-MAM is especially important for testing because it can only be detected in urine for 24 hours, meaning a positive test indicates very recent heroin use.

How Long Heroin Stays in Your Blood

Heroin stays in the blood for a relatively short time due to its rapid metabolism. Typically, heroin is only detectable in blood for a few hours after use. Its metabolites can be detected for slightly longer, particularly morphine. Due to its rapid conversion into 6-MAM, heroin itself can usually only be detected in blood for 5 to 6 hours. As the heroin is converted into morphine, morphine can be detected for up to 12 hours.

How Long Heroin Stays in Your Hair

Heroin can be detected in the hair for a considerably longer time compared to other testing methods like blood or urine. In hair follicle tests, heroin and its metabolites can typically be detected for 90 days after use. The reason for this is the way substances are incorporated into the hair.

When heroin gets into the bloodstream, it enters the hair follicles and becomes locked in the hair shaft. Hair testing is also highly sensitive and can detect relatively low levels of substance use over a long period. This makes it an effective method for evaluating a pattern of heroin use.

How Long Heroin Stays in Your Saliva

Heroin can be detected in saliva for a short time, usually 1 to 2 days from the last use. This makes saliva testing a reliable method for identifying recent heroin use. However, the detection window is shorter than urine or hair because the saliva reflects the compounds present in the bloodstream at the time. Since heroin is quickly metabolized from the blood, it doesn’t show up in saliva tests for long.

Factors That Affect How Long Heroin Stays in Your System

There are a number of factors that affect how long heroin remains in your system. Understanding what they are can help you predict how long heroin will remain detectable.

Dosage and Purity

The amount and purity of heroin can significantly impact how long it stays in the body. Higher doses and purer forms of the substance may increase the time it remains detectable.

Length and Frequency of Use

Regular or long-term use of heroin can lead to accumulation in the body, extending the detection window.

Individual Factors

Individual factors also play a significant role in how quickly heroin is processed and eliminated from the body:

  • Metabolism. Metabolic rates can vary greatly. People with faster metabolisms tend to move heroin faster through the body than those with slower metabolisms
  • Body mass and fat content. Heroin and its metabolites are lipophilic meaning that they tend to accumulate in fatty tissues. Therefore, individuals with higher body fat may retain heroin longer.
  • Age. Metabolism tends to slow with age, so as individuals get older, they might find that heroin stays in their systems longer.
  • Hydration and diet. Hydration levels and dietary factors can influence how long heroin stays in urine and other bodily fluids.
  • Overall health. The health of the liver and kidneys can affect how long heroin stays in the body, as the healthier they are, the more efficient they are at removing toxins from the body. Poor liver and kidney function can prolong the presence of heroin in the body.

Ingestion Method

The method of ingestion impacts the onset, intensity, duration of effects, and how quickly heroin is metabolized and eliminated. Here are the primary methods of heroin use and how each one impacts detection time:

  • Intravenous (IV). This method delivers heroin directly into the bloodstream, producing almost immediate effects. Because the drug bypasses the digestive processes, it’s metabolized and excreted more rapidly, causing a shorter detection period.
  • Intramuscular and subcutaneous. These methods inject heroin into the muscle or just under the skin. The metabolization rates are slightly slower than IV use but faster than other methods.
  • Snorting. Snorting involves inhaling heroin powder through the nose, which is then absorbed into the mucous membrane into the bloodstream. The substance goes through a more extensive metabolization process in the body, leading to longer detection times.
  • Smoking. Smoking heroin involves inhaling the fumes into your lungs. The onset of effects is rapid, though slightly lower than injection. The drug is still processed quickly, but some can enter the digestive system, which can lengthen detection times.
  • Oral consumption. Taking heroin orally results in a much slower onset of effects, which is why it’s the least common way to use heroin. The substance also remains in the body longer as it passes through the digestive tract and is metabolized.

factors that affect how long heroin stays in your system

Finding Heroin Treatment Near You in Prescott, AZ

Heroin use disorder is treatable with the right combination of medications, behavioral therapies, and self-care. You will most likely start the recovery process with heroin detox treatment. A variety of medications are available to keep you comfortable during this process. An inpatient or outpatient program will then provide you with an individualized heroin addiction treatment plan that includes medications to decrease cravings and withdrawal symptoms, as well as behavioral therapies to help you identify the factors that contributed to heroin use.

Recovery is an ongoing process that involves positive changes one step at a time. You don’t have to do it all at once; support is available through every stage of the process.

Wolf Creek Recovery treats heroin use disorder using medication-assisted treatment (MAT), behavioral therapies, counseling, holistic practices, and life skills education. Our staff is in recovery, so we are truly one big family working together to improve ourselves and our lives. This positive atmosphere gives clients hope that they, too, can meet their goals and achieve lasting recovery. Build a life you love. Contact Wolf Creek Recovery at 833-732-8202 today.