Heroin is a potent drug that is derived from the opium poppy plant in South America. The DEA has classified heroin as a Schedule I drug that has a high potential for abuse and no medical use.
Depending on how it’s ingested, when heroin enters the body, it rapidly produces sensations of euphoria, well-being, and painlessness that may last up to four to six hours.
Ultimately, heroin has a half-life in the body of about five minutes, which means the body breaks down heroin quickly and the high from using the substance fades fast as well.
How Heroin Is Detected In The Body
If you suspect a family member or friend may be using heroin, a drug test using gas chromatography or mass spectrometry may detect the drug for days after usage.
Other drugs of abuse that can be detected:
- opiates such as fentanyl, oxycodone (Oxycontin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), and oxymorphone (Opana)
- THC (the psychotropic chemical in marijuana)
- amphetamines such as methamphetamine
- benzodiazepines (“benzos”) detection times
- barbiturates such as diazepam (Valium)
- MDMA (ecstasy)
- PCP (angel dust)
It takes approximately one to four days for the body to metabolize heroin in any of its forms and eliminate it from the body. However, there are several ways to detect heroin long after a person has used it.
Heroin Detection In Blood
Heroin is typically only detectable in the bloodstream for a maximum of six hours after ingestion. Due to this small timeframe, blood tests are only used in emergency situations.
Heroin Detection In Urine Samples
The most common method for drug screening is through a urine drug screen or “pee test”. Most of the time, heroin can be detected in urine up to four days after use.
While detection of heroin use is accurate through a urine test, false positives in test results do occur on occasion, specifically after people eat foods that contain poppy seeds.
Heroin Detection In Hair
When a hair follicle is tested for signs of heroin use, it can detect the drug up to 90 days after a person’s last dose of the drug.
People who have been addicted to heroin for a long period of time will have a much larger detection window.
Heroin Detection In Saliva
Similar to blood tests, saliva or oral fluid tests are not detectable for very long after heroin use. For this reason, saliva tests are almost never utilized to screen for substance abuse.
Saliva tests may be capable of detecting heroin for up to five hours after someone last used the drug. This form of testing is extremely accurate in the short term and is used in emergency situations.
Factors That Influence How Long Heroin Stays In The System
Despite the rapid half-life of heroin, there are an array of factors that may contribute to how long the drug remains in the system.
These factors may include:
- method of heroin administration
- height and weight
- body fat percentage
- amount of the drug taken
- condition of the liver and kidneys
- rate of metabolism
- the potency of the heroin
Other factors that may influence detection time include dosage, frequency of use, and purity of the heroin. Interactions with other substances can also affect how quickly heroin is metabolized.
Treatment Programs For Heroin Addiction
If you or a loved one have an addiction to heroin, there are several evidence-based treatment services available at a drug rehab facility.
Treatment options for substance abuse may include:
- medically monitored detox
- individual and group counseling for opioid abuse
- medication-assisted treatment (MAT) using buprenorphine or methadone
- support groups for drug use and addiction
- dual diagnosis care for co-occurring disorders
- 12-step programs
Attending a reputable addiction treatment program will give you the best chance at achieving long-term recovery.
Find A Drug Rehab Center Today
Call our helpline for more information about heroin drug testing and treatment options for heroin use. Our inpatient program at Bedrock Recovery Center can put you on the path to sobriety.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Heroin DrugFacts https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — Buprenorphine https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/medications-counseling-related-conditions/buprenorphine
- U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) — Heroin https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/heroin