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How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?

Heroin is a commonly abused opiate that has no medical purpose. If you have been abusing this drug – or know someone who does – having a better understanding of how heroin functions in the body can help you make appropriate decisions about recovery.

And if you have a loved one who is abusing heroin, understanding the various factors that determine how long heroin is detectable in the body can help you overcome challenges pertaining to drug testing conducted privately, by a rehab facility or by the justice system.

How Long Does Heroin Last in the Body?

While heroin’s actions can last 4-5 hours after the last heroin dose, heroin’s half-life is estimated to be roughly 30 minutes long.In other words, the concentration of heroin in the blood is generally reduced to half of its original value 30 minutes after consumption.

That being said, the following factors can also play a role in how long the drug lasts in an individual’s body:

  • The heroin user’s height and weight. The size of a person partially determines how much drug consumption needs to occur before that individual gets high. It also determines how long the drug will be detectable in the person’s system. Smaller individuals may find that the drug remains in their body for longer periods of time.
  • The amount consumed by the heroin user. The more heroin you take, the longer it can potentially last in your system. The quality of the drug also factors in. Higher quality heroin will be more potent than lower quality heroin. However, lower quality heroin may also be cut with a variety of unknown additives – which may or may not affect how long the substances remain in the body.
  • The speed of an individual’s metabolism. Individuals with faster metabolisms who exercise heavily will find that heroin that is detectable by drug testing leaves the body much faster. This is because the body is able to detoxify itself of any toxins at a faster pace.

Detecting Heroin Through Drug Testing

If you suspect that your loved one is using heroin, it may be essential to carefully time the drug test – or to choose one of the more accurate testing methods – if you want a truthful result.

*Heroin Testing Options

Heroin can be detected in the body by using the following tests:

  • Hair follicle test.
  • Urine test.
  • Blood test.
  • Saliva test.

The drug tests mentioned above have been approved by the FDA and can detect heroin in the body after drug use. However, some tests will show a positive result for heroin abuse for a far longer duration than others.

Interestingly, depending upon the test used, the length of time that heroin is detectable in the body after drug use varies.

Hair follicle testing is considered one of the more revealing methods of testing for opiate abuse, as it can show that there’s heroin in a user’s system for up to three months after use. The length of time that blood and saliva tests can detect drug use is about equal – in that both test methods can detect heroin in the body only for about 12 hours after last drug use, at most.

Urine tests can detect heroin use slightly longer than blood or saliva tests, and are a simple, cost-effective method that is used quite often. Heroin may still appear positive on a urine test conducted up to 3 days after the last instance of abuse.

The Duration of Heroin Withdrawal

If you are wondering how long heroin stays in your system so you know what to expect from drug recovery, then there is no simple answer. Heroin withdrawal symptoms are the unpleasant physical symptoms one experiences when the body is suddenly deprived of the drug it has become accustomed to.

These withdrawal symptoms typically peak at about 3 or 4 days after last drug use, tapering down at about 7-8 days after last drug use. For severe, long-term heroin users, however, the duration of opiate withdrawal symptoms can range from days to even months.

Keep in mind that the full recovery process can take much longer than than simply the physical withdrawal process. It takes time and often various types of therapy to effectively address and change the emotional and behavioral patterns that led to drug abuse in the first place.

Treating Heroin Abuse

If you were looking for more information on how long heroin stays in your system because you were hoping to pass a mandatory drug test, consider today your opportunity to instead explore the many heroin addiction treatment options that are available to you. Rather than trying to beat a test, you could get your life and health back from the addictive behavior you struggle with.

Learn more about the following types of addiction treatment options:

3 Different Types of Treatment

  1. Luxury Treatment. This type of residential treatment provides users with a wide range of addiction services alongside of resort-like amenities. Luxury treatment may come with a bit of a costlier price tag compared to traditional treatment – but tending to your every comfort need may be just the ticket to help you follow through with your recovery plan.
  2. Executive Treatment. This residential treatment option is designed to provide users with quality inpatient treatment while also allowing them to maintain a daily, active presence in their demanding work and business spheres.
  3. Traditional Treatment. Traditional heroin addiction treatment can come in the forms of either inpatient treatment or outpatient treatment, and it tends to be less expensive than luxury or executive treatment programs.
    • Inpatient (non-luxury): Inpatient treatment provides users with a residential facility where users are tended to with 24/7 care from staff personnel. Inpatient facilities may either occur in hospital settings or in non-hospital settings. Hospital settings provide healthcare professionals and medical resources around-the-clock, while non-hospital settings may provide intermittent care from healthcare professionals.
    • Outpatient: Outpatient treatment provides many similar elements to inpatient treatment except that patients are permitted to go back to their own homes at night. This option is usually better for less severe cases of addiction, and when there are no other coexisting medical or mental health problems.

What Happens in Treatment?

Regardless of the treatment type you choose, treatment will typically involve a period of detox – when the body tries to rid itself of all substances – followed by some combination of individual, group or family therapy. Medications are also sometimes used to help facilitate the stages of drug withdrawal and recovery.

Get the Help You Need to Break Out of Addiction

Call our number at the top of the page to speak with a caring recovery advisor who would love to help answer any questions you may have about the heroin addiction treatment process.


  1. Reisine, T., Pasternak, G. (1996). Opioid analgesics and antagonists. In: Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 9th. Hardman, J. G., Gilman, A., Limbird, L. E. (Eds), (p. 521). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

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