How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?

20 Mar How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?

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Heroin is an opiate drug that is used recreationally and serves no medical purpose. It typically appears as a white or brown powder or a black sticky substance. Ways of administering heroin include injection, snorting, sniffing, or it can be smoked. These methods of delivery cause the drug to quickly be sent to the brain. It can remain in the system for as little as few hours or as much as a few days after use.

Heroin has a short half-life, which means that when the high is over, nearly 50 percent of the drug’s metabolites may already been cleared by the body. But even after the high is over, the drug can still linger behind. Based on 2015 statistics from the American Society of Addiction Medicine, nearly two million Americans live with prescription opioid abuse or dependence, while 517,000 Americans live with heroin addiction specifically.

Detecting heroin in the system is dependent on the type of drug test that is being administered. It can be detected in the body through:

  • urine drug test
  • blood drug test
  • saliva drug test
  • hair follicle drug test

all of which are approved methods by the FDA.

Urine Tests
A urine sample can track for a longer period of time, but each urine test can differ depending on the user being tested. For example, in one urine sample, heroin may still show up three days after the last use, while another user could’ve taken heroin within hours of testing and it may not be detectable.

Hair Follicle Tests
One of the most accurate testing methods for heroin is hair follicle testing. These tests can detect heroin up to three months after use.

Blood Tests and Saliva Tests
How long does heroin stay in your blood? When administering blood or saliva tests, heroin can be detected in the body for 12 hours following use.

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Factors That Affect Heroin Detection

Although it is the type of testing performed that largely detects how long heroin stays in the body, there are other factors to take into consideration including:

  • Height and weight of the user;
  • Certain medical conditions;
  • Amount of heroin consumed;
  • Quality of heroin consumed;
  • An individual’s metabolism.
  • Presence of other drugs in the body (multi-drug screen test may be necessary)

There is no foolproof way to ensure that heroin will leave the system quickly, but there are plenty of theories about how to reduce the detection time of a heroin drug test. If you’re trying to rid your body of heroin as quickly as possible, consider the following steps:

Stay Hydrated

Water helps flush out your system and rid your body of all toxins helping to clear out heroin.


Engaging in light exercise assists with revving the metabolism and increasing circulation, which can help with detox. It also helps burn fat that can eliminate the drug being held.


For a complete flush of your system after heroin use, this will typically require detox. This may require medication, in-patient care or a combination of both. The symptoms of heroin withdrawal are intense and painful, so monitoring and assistive care are important to its success.

how long heroin stays in your system

The Duration of Heroin Withdrawal

The experience of withdrawal symptoms don’t directly correlate to heroin’s presence in your body. The withdrawal symptoms begin once the heroin is no longer effective, which can differ from person to person. However, if you’re wondering what to expect in recovery, it’s not a simple, straightforward answer. A person that goes through withdrawal symptoms can experience any combination of the following:

  • profuse sweating
  • diarrhea
  • nausea and vomiting
  • joint and muscle pain
  • insomnia
  • itchy skin
  • hot/cold flashes
  • irritability
  • mood swings
  • depression

Withdrawal from heroin can be painful and uncomfortable to say the least, but those who wish to recover from addiction should know this sickness is short-lived compared to the lifetime of benefits being clean.

For most, withdrawal symptoms last anywhere from a week to a month with the severity of symptoms decreasing over time. Enlisting medical help to assist with your detox will give you the kind of support needed to resist craving and make the experience as comfortable as possible. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it as part of the recovery journey.

Medical detox will safely give you the best chance at fighting your heroin addiction and start your path to sobriety. The recovery environment provides a secure space, support, and the attention necessary to truly focus on your goal. Administered medication helps with reducing cravings and a monitoring of symptoms and vital signs as detox can take a toll on your body.

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Treating Heroin Abuse

When it comes to heroin testing to pass a mandatory drug test, a person can calculate how long it might potentially take to fully clear the system. If this is the main concern for wanting to know how long heroin can remain, it’s important to know that heroin comes from poppy plants. This means that eating a large amount of poppy seeds can, in fact, lead to testing positive for opiates. Poppy seeds may trigger a positive result as soon as two hours following ingestion and may continue to show up on a drug test for days.

However, if you are asking, “how long does heroin stay in your system?” for the sake of addressing actual heroin abuse on a larger scale is more than beating the cycle of using and waiting to rid the body of any evidence of use. Detox and addiction recovery means embracing a lifetime of sobriety and calls for experienced assistance to start that journey in a safe way. There is also a better chance for recovery when approached from a physical, emotional, and psychological standpoint.

Support groups with those who have experienced similar events can help with learning what has worked for others, which can be applied to each individual journey. Quiet reflectiveness might work for some, while others may benefit by staying busy with other healthy habits. Many might find success quickly within weeks, while others might experience setbacks and longer roads to recovery. No matter what the situation entails, taking the first step is all that’s needed to begin. Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.

At Georgia Drug Detox, we provide a safe, comfortable environment to help you effectively detox from drug or alcohol use. We are here as you prepare for, experience, and live with the effects of detox and sober living to help you remain strong and in charge of your life. Let your path to wellness begin!


T, Buddy. “How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?” Verywell Mind. 8 Nov. 2018. 4 March 2019.

Lautieri, Amanda. “How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?” American Addiction Centers. 4 March 2019.

“How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?” 4 March 2019.

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