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How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?

a person sits on the floor crying wondering how long does heroin stay in your systemYou may be wondering, how long does heroin stay in your system? While in the throes of addiction, it can be challenging to ask for help or information. But to get on the road to recovery, learning more about addiction can be a major help.

At Northpoint Recovery, we offer addiction resources in Washington for people ready to change their lives. Additionally, our inpatient detox and rehab center offers a safe haven to begin lifelong recovery. Learn more by calling 888.450.2153.

What Is Heroin?

Heroin is an opioid drug. It is made from morphine, which comes from the opium poppy plant. These plants are grown in various locations around the world, including Mexico, Colombia, and parts of Asia.

What Is Heroin’s Half-Life?

The opioid has a very short half-life compared to other types of drugs. Half-life is the amount of time it takes for half of the used dose to pass through the body or be metabolized. So, when the high ends, half of the drug still remains in the body. This process will continue to occur until the entire amount of the drug has been eliminated.

Heroin’s half-life is only about 30 minutes long. Because of this, the high that it produces is short. People tend to believe that this must mean that it can’t be detected in the body for very long. This isn’t true at all.

How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?

How long heroin stays in the system depends on a few different things. The amount that was used and the method of administration both play key roles. Different methods of testing will also be able to detect heroin at different points in time.


A saliva test for heroin is probably the least reliable of all the different tests. This is why it really isn’t used often. In order for a saliva test to produce a positive result, it has to be done an hour after the last use. This can be very difficult to time, which means that the results can be skewed.

Some types of saliva tests will detect heroin use for a little over 20 hours after the last use. For this reason, some may consider this test to be a good choice. It’s not as invasive as a blood test, and it’s fairly easy to perform.


Hair tests are very reliable in determining long-term heroin use. However, if someone has only recently used the drug, the test will probably give a negative result. It takes more time before it will show up on a hair test. In fact, it can take up to a week or even more in some cases.

Even so, hair tests will continue to give a positive result for 90 days afterward. This might be good for outpatient drug clinics that only see patients periodically. It can help to give them a detailed history of a patient’s substance abuse habits.


A urine test is the most commonly used test for heroin because it’s so easy to administer. The urine is analyzed carefully for the presence of the drug and its metabolites. The test might not show a positive result until as many as five hours after the last use of it. Urine tests will remain positive for about three days. However, some people may eliminate the drug in as soon as one day. This is all very individualized and based on additional factors.


Blood tests for heroin aren’t used very often. They are the most invasive test of all, and the results are quite unreliable. This is because the substance will leave the bloodstream within a few hours. However, it does enter the bloodstream within a matter of minutes after one use.

No matter the method, routine drug testing can help addiction treatment programs keep patients accountable during recovery.

What Influences How Long Heroin Stays in the Body?

How long heroin stays in the system is influenced by a number of different factors. Everyone is different, and no one eliminates it the same way.

Some of the factors that can influence how long heroin stays in the body include:

  • How much of the drug is being used – Higher dosages take longer to leave the body.
  • How often it is being used – If someone uses it more often, it will definitely take the body longer to eliminate it.
  • The age of the person using the substance – As a general rule, if someone is older, it may take their body longer.
  • The individual’s BMI – People with higher BMIs may be able to eliminate it faster.
  • The person’s liver and kidney function – Someone with healthy kidneys and liver might be able to eliminate the drug quicker.

The length of time someone has been using the drug will also affect how long heroin stays in the body. Someone who has been using for years will have a much harder time eliminating all traces of the drug from the body compared to someone who recently started using.

Physical Consequences of Heroin Abuse

Heroin has a profound effect on the body, both in the short and in the long term. People with a heroin addiction may experience the following:

  • A sensation of heaviness in your limbs
  • A dry mouth
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Flushed skin
  • Itchiness all over the body
  • Slower heart function
  • Slower breathing rates or other complications
  • Collapsed veins
  • Infections or abscesses
  • Heart infections
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Chronic constipation
  • Possible bowel obstructions

Someone struggling with heroin addiction may continue to use the drug even as they experience negative side effects.

Heroin Addiction Treatment at Northpoint Washington

Now that you know the answer to “How long does heroin stay in your system?” it’s time to get help. Our heroin rehab program equips our patients with the right tools to stop using heroin successfully.

Learn more about our addiction treatment services by contacting us at 888.450.2153 today.