How Long Does Heroin Stay In Your System? What Is Heroine?
Heroin is an opiate drug made from morphine. It is not legally available by prescription in the United States, although it is available on a limited basis in Canada, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom to treat heroin addiction. Using heroin brings a high risk of overdose and dangerous interactions with other drugs and prescribed medications. Knowing how long it could be active in your system can help you understand the risks and variables.
Heroin is classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning that it’s a drug with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for misuse. Because heroin is so fast-acting and has such a short half-life, it can sometimes be difficult to detect in standard drug screenings. The effects of the drug last for about 30 minutes, but the metabolites produced as the drug is broken down are detectable on standard drug screening tests for around one to four days.
Heroin is a drug that reaches the brain very fast once it’s consumed, for this reason, it is very easy for a person to develop Heroin Addiction even from one or a few uses. Before we get to the main topic, let’s learn about what heroin is.
According to the scientific piece ‘Heroin’, published by The National Library of Medicine, “Heroin is a white or brown powder or a black, sticky goo. It’s an opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance in the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant. It can be mixed with water and injected with a needle. Heroin can also be smoked or snorted up the nose. All of these ways of taking heroin send it to the brain very quickly. This makes it very addictive.
Regular use of heroin can lead to tolerance. This means users need more and more drugs to have the same effect. At higher doses over time, the body becomes dependent on heroin. If dependent users stop heroin, they have withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, diarrhea and vomiting, and cold flashes with goosebumps”.
How Does Heroin Addiction Work?
Heroin is a highly addictive drug. That’s because people who regularly use heroin often develop a tolerance, which means that they need higher and/or more frequent doses of the drug to get the desired effects. A substance use disorder (SUD) is when continued use of the drug causes issues, such as health problems and failure to meet responsibilities at work, school, or home. A SUD can range from mild to severe, the most severe form being addiction.
As stated by The National Institute on Drug Abuse, in the piece ‘Heroin DrugFacts’, Those who suffer from Heroin Addiction and stop using the drug abruptly may have severe withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms, which can begin as early as a few hours after the drug was last taken, include:
- Severe muscle and bone pain
- Sleep problems
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Cold flashes with goosebumps (‘Cold turkey’)
- Uncontrollable leg movements (‘Kicking the habit’)
- Severe heroin cravings
On the authority of the scientific piece ‘[Heroin addiction]’, Sándor Hosztafi, published by The National Library of Medicine, recent research has shown that “major withdrawal symptoms peak between 48 and 72 hours after the last dose of heroin and subside after about a week.
At this time, weakness and depression are pronounced and nausea and vomiting are common. Nevertheless, some chronic addicts have shown persistent withdrawal signs for many months or even years. Heroin addiction is considered a behavioral state of compulsive drug use and a high tendency to relapse after periods of abstinence.
Researchers are studying the long-term effects of opioid addiction on the brain. Studies have shown some loss of the brain’s white matter associated with heroin use, which may affect decision-making, behavior control, and responses to stressful situations.
How Long Does Heroin Stay In Your System? How Long Does It Take to Feel Effects?
Heroin sold on the street is manufactured illegally and differs widely in strength, purity, and what other substances it is mixed with. People who take heroin recreationally use it in many different ways, each of which can affect how soon and how long its effects are felt. Heroin can be smoked, injected, or snorted.
The effects of heroin are felt swiftly. Depending on the dose, a wave of intense euphoria lasts 45 seconds to a few minutes, with the other effects peaking for one to two hours and most effects wearing off in three to five hours, although sedation can last longer.
Common effects are a surge of euphoria followed by a drowsy twilight state alternating between wake and sleep. Physical effects include constricted pupils, feelings of nausea, flushed skin, dry mouth, and a feeling of having heavy hands and feet.
How Long Does Heroin Stay In Your System?
Heroin has an extremely rapid half-life of two to six minutes and is metabolized to 6-acetyl morphine and morphine. The half-life of morphine is one and a half to seven hours and the half-life of 6-acetyl morphine is just six to 25 minutes. It takes four to five half-lives for a drug to be effectively eliminated from the system.
Heroin and 6-acetyl morphine enter the brain more readily than morphine. In the brain and nervous system, these substances act on receptors involved with euphoria, pain suppression, depressing breathing, drowsiness, dysphoria, and rarely delusions and hallucinations.
How Long Does Heroin Stay In Your System? Urine
Urine tests are the most frequently used type of drug screening because they are less costly and easy to administer. Heroin can be detected on a standard urine test for between one to four days after the last use.
How Long Does Heroin Stay In Your System? Blood
Research has also shown that the 6-AM assay test, originally developed as a urine test, is sensitive enough to detect heroin metabolites in blood.4 Such tests may be useful for following traffic accidents or overdoses to distinguish between recent heroin use and the therapeutic intake of opioids for pain relief.
How Long Does Heroin Stay In Your System? Saliva
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that high levels of heroin metabolite 6-acetyl morphine can be detected in saliva samples. Such tests may be a better indicator of heroin use than urine screens in some situations. However, such tests must be administered fairly quickly after the last use in order to be effective.
How Long Does Heroin Stay In Your System? Hair
Heroin can be detected by hair follicle tests for up to 90 days after use. People who have been using heroin for longer periods of time may have much longer hair detection windows, however.
How Long Does Heroin Stay In Your System? Heroin Overdose
Heroin Addiction can easily lead a person to overdose from this drug because of its way of making people want more and more of the substance. A heroin overdose occurs when a person uses enough of the drug to produce a life-threatening reaction or death.
When people overdose on heroin, their breathing often slows or stops. This can decrease the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain, a condition called hypoxia. Hypoxia can have short- and long-term mental effects and effects on the nervous system, including coma and permanent brain damage.
How Long Does Heroin Stay In Your System? Treatment for Heroin Overdose
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there’s a specific medicine called Naloxone that can save the life of someone who’s overdosing. Naloxone is a medicine that can treat an opioid overdose when given right away. It works by rapidly binding to opioid receptors and blocking the effects of heroin and other opioid drugs. Sometimes more than one dose may be needed to help a person start breathing again, which is why it’s important to get the person to an emergency department or a doctor to receive additional support if needed.
Naloxone is available as an injectable (needle) solution and nasal sprays (NARCAN® Nasal Spray and KLOXXADO®). Friends, family, and others in the community can use the nasal spray versions of naloxone to save someone who is overdosing. The rising number of opioid overdose deaths has led to an increase in public health efforts to make Naloxone available to at-risk persons and their families, as well as first responders and others in the community. Some states have passed laws that allow pharmacists to dispense naloxone without a prescription from a person’s personal doctor.
How Long Does Heroin Stay In Your System? Treatment for Heroin Addiction
Treatment for Heroin Addiction includes medicine treatments and behavioral therapies. In order for a treatment to be effective, it’s important to match the best treatment approach to meet the particular needs of each individual patient. There are medicines being developed to help with the withdrawal process. The FDA approved lofexidine, a non-opioid medicine designed to reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms.
As stated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, medicines to help people stop using heroin include Buprenorphine and Methadone. They work by binding to the same opioid receptors in the brain as heroin, but more weakly, reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Another treatment is naltrexone, which blocks opioid receptors and prevents opioid drugs from having an effect.
A NIDA study found that once treatment is initiated, both a buprenorphine/naloxone combination and an extended-release Naltrexone formulation are similarly effective in addiction. Because full detoxification is necessary for treatment with naloxone, initiating treatment among active users was difficult, but once detoxification was complete, both medications had similar effectiveness.
Behavioral therapies for heroin addiction include methods called Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and contingency management. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy helps modify the patient’s drug-use expectations and behaviors and helps effectively manage triggers and stress. Contingency Management provides motivational incentives, such as vouchers or small cash rewards for positive behaviors such as staying drug-free. These Behavioral Treatment approaches are especially effective when used along with medicines.
Reclaim your life from Heroin Addiction
Heroin addiction is a serious condition that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up Treatment Center can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from heroin addiction with professional and safe treatment. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition and give you clarity about questions like how long does heroin stay in your system?. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.
 Heroin – National Library of Medicine (Medlineplus.gov)
 Heroin DrugFacts – The National Institute on Drug Abuse (drugabuse.gov)
 Heroin addiction, Sándor Hosztafi, National Library of Medicine (pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Appendix I: National roadside survey pilot test, oral fluid and blood analytic procedures. 2007.
 Borriello R, Carfora A, Cassandro P, Petrella R. Clinical and Forensic Diagnosis of Very Recent Heroin Intake by 6-acetylmorphine Immunoassay Test and LC-MS/MS Analysis in Urine and Blood. Ann Clin Lab Sci. 2015 Summer;45(4):414-8. (pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)