HomeDrug EducationDetection PeriodHow Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System: Based on Science

How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System: Based on Science

Morphine, a natural substance derived from the seed pod of various opium poppy plants grown in Mexico, Southeast and Southwest Asia, and Colombia, produces heroin, an opioid drug. Hospitals widely recognize its painkilling effects and apply it to alleviate pain in cancer patients and individuals recovering from surgery.

The length of time heroin stays in the body depends on several factors, including the amount taken, the user’s metabolism, and history. Blood and saliva tests typically detect heroin for only 5-6 hours to 2 days due to its short half-life. Hair follicle tests work for a longer time and can detect heroin for up to 3 months.

This article will focus on the duration heroin remains detectable in your system through various drug tests, methods to expedite its elimination from your body, potential triggers for false positive heroin tests, and the factors influencing detection time.

How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System

Both medical and recreational purposes use heroin, which is an opioid drug. It is illegal to sell, possess, or make heroin without a license because this drug is classified and controlled under Schedule I and IV of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in the US.

Typically, it’s one of the most potent and addictive opioids. It goes by street names big H, horse, hell dust, and smack. You can inject, smoke, snort, or inhale it into your body. When smoked or injected, you feel the ‘rush of euphoria’ in about 5 to 20 seconds.

When snorted, however, it might take a little longer, up to 2 minutes. Speedballing, which involves mixing heroin with crack cocaine, causes an even faster effect, and some people engage in this practice.

In as much as this drug stays in the system for a short length of time, its effects are very intense. Before breaking down into morphine and 6-acetylmorphine, it lasts for about three to six minutes.

Morphine has a half-life of two to seven hours, while 6-acetylmorphine has a half-life of up to 25 minutes. Heroin will, however, require several half-lives and varying durations to be entirely flushed out of your system.

Most cases reveal that a person’s urine can no longer detect heroin after about 2 to 3 days. However, certain urine tests may yield positive results for up to 7 days after the last use, with dependence on the amount and method of consumption.

The short half-life of heroin, like many other drugs, often prevents the frequent use of blood and saliva tests for its detection. Opioid has a window detection period of 5 to 6 hours.

Heroin can be detectable in hair follicles for a much more extended period than in any other part of the body. The test can easily detect heroin in your system for up to 3 months.

Can Heroin Be Detected by a Drug Test?

Heroin goes through rapid metabolism and is later excreted by the kidneys in the form of urine. The metabolism process produces morphine and 6-acetylmorphine. Therefore, most drug tests will detect these two substances rather than heroin itself.

The components that are tested are as follows:

Blood Test

Blood Test

Heroin metabolizes quickly and stays in the system for a relatively short period. It’s present for about 12 hours in the blood after the last ingestion. In some cases, however, it can be detected for up to a day, depending on the frequency of use and how much was consumed.

Urine Test

Heroin urine sample is analyzed for the presence of diacetylmorphine and other metabolites. You will test positive two to four days after the last time you ingested the drug. However, a sample of regular or chronic users can show evidence of use up to seven days after the last dose.

Saliva Test

Heroin is mostly detectable for about 24 to 36 hours in saliva, which is much shorter than urine or hair tests. However, some opiates may have a much longer detectable period.

Hair Test

The hair follicle test is the only test that can detect heroin for more than a week. This test can detect the presence of heroin up to three months after the last dose. The detection window can increase for long-term, heavy users.

How to Quickly Flush Heroin Out of Your System

Heroin metabolizes quickly and will be undetected by most standard drug tests after about three days. However, to flush it out of your body much faster, here is what you can do:

Drink More Water

Having more water in your system enables the kidneys to filter the blood better and flush out heroin.

Eating Healthier Foods

Foods such as fruits and vegetables enable your body to be healthy, allowing you to work and feel better.

Avoid Caffeine

Caffeine is a bad idea because it makes it more difficult for the drug to leave the system.

Exercise Regularly

Exercises increase the metabolic rate in the body. This not only helps the body to be a lot healthier but also eliminates any toxins faster.

Avoid Mixing Heroin and Alcohol

A mixture of alcohol and heroin will always make it harder for the drug to leave the system.


The surest way of flushing it out of your system is by stopping its usage and allowing your body the time to eliminate it naturally.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

These withdrawal symptoms may start to appear anywhere between 6 to 24 hours after the last dose of heroin. As heroin and morphine compounds are eliminated, your body struggles to adapt without them. This leads to the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sweating
  • Tearing
  • Insomnia
  • Shaking
  • Muscle aches
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Abdominal cramps and diarrhea

What Can Trigger a False Positive Test for Heroin

A false-positive result after the ingestion of poppy seeds can occur in urine drug tests. Poppy seeds contain morphine and codeine. Therefore, ingesting foods containing these seeds will cause some traces of morphine in the urine. Cough suppressants, too, especially those containing codeine and some quinolone drugs, can also trigger positive opiate results.

However, it should be noted that finding morphine after ingesting poppy seeds or using a codeine cough suppressant would not be a false positive. These are true positives since the detected drug really is/was present, though not clinically significant positives.

Which Factors Influence Detection Time

Some factors can significantly contribute to the duration in which heroin can be detected in the system. These include:

Amount consumed

Frequent and high doses of heroin consumption can result in urine morphine concentrations of up to 2000 mg/mL for a period of 6 to 12 hours after ingestion.

Weight of an Individual

Weight of an Individual

Heroin will stay longer in the systems of overweight individuals than those classified as ‘normal’ weight by BMI. This is usually due to the fact that traces of heroin may be trapped in the fatty tissues of overweight persons and end up staying there a bit longer.

The Age of an Individual

As individuals age, it takes longer for their systems to metabolize toxins, thereby lengthening the detection time of heroin.

The Rate of Metabolism

Our metabolism differs from one person to another. Some people will metabolize heroin quickly or slowly due to genetic predispositions, with a faster metabolism using up heroin more rapidly than a slower metabolism.

The Method Used

When smoked or sniffed, heroin metabolizes quickly and is eliminated in the urine, but injecting it into the veins allows the body to retain some of it in body fluids for much longer periods.

The Duration of Use

Individuals who use heroin more frequently are more likely to retain it in fatty tissues and body fluids for more extended periods, unlike occasional users.

Ralph Gary
Ralph Gary
Ralph is a passionate author at tooslick.com, a leading drug education website. With a background in public health, he combines research and empathy to create informative content that empowers readers with knowledge on substance abuse. Ralph's mission is to foster a safer and healthier community through education.

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