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How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?

Heroin is an opioid made from morphine, a natural substance derived from the seed pod of various opium plants.1 Heroin is highly addictive, and individuals who use heroin often develop a tolerance in which they require higher or more frequent doses of heroin to achieve the desired effects.1

How long heroin stays in a person’s system varies depending on several factors such as their height and weight, metabolism, how much heroin they consumed, and the type of detection method.

If you have been using heroin, or know someone who has, having a better understanding of how heroin functions in the body can help to inform your decisions about recovery.

Heroin Duration of Time

Although the effects of heroin can linger for several hours, heroin has a particularly short half-life of just a few minutes. In other words, if someone takes a single dose of heroin, it will take just a few minutes for half of the drug to be flushed out of their system. Some studies suggest that the half-life of heroin is as short as 2 to 6 minutes.2

However, several factors can influence how long the drug lingers in the body, including:

  • Age.
  • Body composition.
  • Genetics.
  • Hydration.
  • Metabolism.

The amount of heroin consumed, and the quality of the heroin can also influence how long the drug lingers in the body. 

Detecting Heroin Through Drug Testing

Heroin can be detected in the body by using the following tests:3

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

These drug tests are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and can detect heroin in the body at various points in time after last drug use. Testing sensitivity varies, however, and some tests will show a positive result for heroin for a far longer duration than others.

Hair follicle testing is considered one of the more revealing methods of testing for heroin, as it can show heroin in a user’s system for up to three months after use. Comparatively, blood and saliva tests can detect heroin in the body for only about 12 hours after last drug use. Urine tests can detect heroin use slightly longer than blood or saliva tests. Heroin may still appear positive on a urine test conducted up to 3 days after the last instance of drug use.

Heroin Addiction Treatment Options

If you are looking for more information on how long heroin stays in your system because you are hoping to pass a mandatory drug test, consider exploring the many heroin addiction treatment options that are available to you.

Treatment approaches for heroin addiction include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), contingency management, community-based recovery groups (e.g. 12-Step programs), and therapeutic communities.4 Because several factors influence addiction, treatment should be tailored to an individual’s unique needs. Treatment may be provided in an inpatient setting where you live at a facility, or an outpatient setting where you live at home and attend treatment during the day. Some treatment centers provide additional amenities such as luxury rehab facilities and executive rehab facilities.

What Happens in a Heroin Addiction Treatment Program?

Regardless of the treatment type you choose, treatment will typically involve a period of detox (when the body is allowed to rid itself of all substances) followed by a combination of family, group, or individual therapy. Many centers will provide medication assistance to help facilitate the stages of heroin withdrawal and recovery.

Most insurance plans cover at least part of, if not all, heroin addiction treatment. You can call the number on the back of your insurance card or check your insurance coverage online by filling out the form below.

Getting Help for Heroin Addiction

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of inpatient and outpatient rehab treatment services. AAC is committed to supporting those struggling with addiction on their journey to recovery. If you are looking for information on heroin addiction treatment, you can contact us at to learn more.