Heroin is a potent opioid drug that can have dramatic effects on the body. If you know someone that struggles with heroin addiction, you may be wondering, “How long does heroin stay in your system?” The answer can be complicated.
How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?
Heroin can be detected in your bloodstream for up to 12 hours after you take it. After 12 hours, traces of heroin remain in your system Those traces can be detected in your urine for 3 or 4 more days. Heroin byproducts will also be detectable in your hair for up to 90 days after use. Newer diagnostic tests can detect heroin in your saliva for one to four days after use. Of course, these are not hard-and-fast rules. The actual amount of time that heroin will stay in your system will depend on many factors, including your own metabolic traits and quirks, how often and how much heroin you are using, and the type of heroin that you have used.
In most people, heroin has a relatively short “half-life” of three to eight minutes. This means that your body will metabolize half the amount of heroin in less than ten minutes after you take it. The drug fully clears out of your body within a few days after your last use.
But how long does heroin stay in your system if you become a heavy user? If you have developed an addiction or physical dependency on heroin, you can and often will perceive these times to be shorter. People that have not used heroin for long might not begin to experience cravings for two or three days or more after last using heroin. As the addiction and dependency develop, those cravings will develop more quickly. This is despite similar trace amounts of heroin may be remaining in the user’s system long after the last use.
Tolerance to Heroin
As addicts develop a greater tolerance for heroin, they will likely ingest larger doses and use the drug more frequently. This leads to greater residual amounts of heroin in their systems that take slightly longer to metabolize. These greater amounts will not generate greater feelings of euphoria. They will only stave off increasingly intense cravings for the drug. Heroin addicts might not achieve the same euphoria, but the sedative effects of heroin will remain strong. Heroin suppresses a user’s respiratory rate and blood pressure. Individuals who overdose on heroin will die if their respiration falls below a rate necessary to keep them alive.
Removing Heroin from the Body
Different kinds of heroin will have different metabolites that also affect how long the drug stays in your system. The metabolites in “black tar” heroin, for example, might alter the euphoria-inducing effects as well as the half-life of the drug. All kinds of heroin, when first used, will create a rapid and intense euphoric rush. The duration of the first rush differs as a function of multiple factors. However, as heroin use continues, the user rarely, if ever, experiences the same level of euphoria. Heroin’s rapid effects on a person’s mental state is a primary contributor to heroin addiction. This is because users are always seeking the same euphoric rush they first felt.
Heroin users who attempt to game the system by drinking large quantities of water, for example, or using other substances that supposedly speed up heroin metabolism are accomplishing very little. Even Narcan (naloxone) will not eliminate heroin and opiate products from your system. Of course, Narcan can save your life if you have overdosed. However, it works by pushing the opiates off of the opiate receptors in your brain. It does not eliminate the opiates from your tissues or body systems.
Treatment for Heroin Addiction
If you or a loved one are struggling with heroin abuse, the Last Resort Recovery Center near Austin, Texas can help. With offerings like our family program, the 12 step program, and the Brave Heart Experience, we can guide you towards sobriety. If you have other questions similar to “How long does heroin stay in your system?”, or if you need any other information about overcoming heroin addiction or dependency, give us a call at 877-892-7997 for more information.