How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?

Learn about heroin’s effect on the body and how to remove it from your system. 

What is Heroin?

Heroin is a fast-acting opioid that’s highly addictive and has a short half-life. This means that it gets to the brain exceptionally quickly and exits your system quickly as well. How long heroin stays in your system depends on several variables, and the exact time is different for everyone. In this article, we’ll look at those variables as well as everything else you need to know about heroin.

Heroin is an addictive opioid made from morphine, commonly used in hospitals for pain management. Morphine is derived from various opium poppy plants grown in Asia, Columbia, and Mexico. Heroin often takes the form of a white or brown powder and can also come in a black, sticky substance known as black tar heroin.1

How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?


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What Is Its Mechanism of Action?

When someone injects themselves with heroin, it travels quickly to the brain and binds to opioid receptors. While it binds to many different ones, heroin primarily clings to pain and pleasure receptors and those that control breathing, sleeping, and heart rate. Because opioid receptors and neurotransmitters are located throughout the body, it doesn’t take long for heroin to enter the bloodstream and travel everywhere.1

How Is It Processed in The Body?

After heroin is injected, sniffed, or sorted, it goes first to the heart and enters the bloodstream. The heart sends it straight to the brain, and within several seconds, it passes the blood-brain barrier and infiltrates the brain. A series of chemical reactions occurs within the brain, and heroin is sent to the liver.2

The liver partially metabolizes heroin and then releases it to the rest of the body. When it’s finally run its course, heroin is eliminated mainly through the urinary tract while a tiny amount is excreted.2

How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?

The total time that heroin stays in your system depends on many factors. The injection method, the strength of the heroin, and lots of body factors play a role. Each part of the body is affected by and retains heroin differently. 


Urine is one of the main ways heroin is detected in drug tests because it stays in the system. Heroin remains detectable in urine for up to three days since the last time you took it.3


Blood isn’t quite as reliable to use for heroin detection because heroin travels through the bloodstream so quickly. Heroin is detectable in the bloodstream for one day at the longest.4


The time that heroin is detectable in the saliva is from 5 to 48 hours, depending on the factors listed below.4


Amazingly enough, heroin has been detected in the hair follicles for up to three months since the last time someone used heroin. It’s the part of the body that retains heroin the longest.5

Factors That Affect the Duration of Heroin in Your System

As we’ve been saying, several factors affect how long heroin stays within your system. Different parts of your body retain heroin for longer, but in general, heroin runs its course in less than an hour. Here are some of the factors that affect heroin duration.

How Does Heroin Affect the Body?

The initial effects of heroin can be felt in as little as a few minutes. You’ll experience feelings of euphoria and happiness in these brief moments, but they quickly fade. After-effects can last for an average of three or four hours and lead to extreme drowsiness. It’s common to fall asleep after using heroin, and the drug can knock you out for four hours and up.6

Let’s look at the adverse short-term and long-term effects of heroin use.

Short-term Effects of Heroin

Long-term Effects of Heroin

Although heroin addiction is a serious issue, there are treatment options available. Read on to learn how to get heroin out of your system and the different types of treatments for overcoming heroin addiction.

Heroin stay in your system

How to Get Heroin Out of Your System?

While heroin itself is eliminated from the body through urine and excrement, the desire and need remain. This need and desire are what lead to regular use and addiction. The only way to get heroin entirely out of your system is to go through detox and withdrawal.

Detoxing Process for Heroin

The detoxing process for heroin is grueling, but it will save your life. It starts with admitting that you’re addicted and need help. Knowing that you need help leads to higher levels of success during the detox process. The main part of detoxing is going through withdrawal. After withdrawal, ongoing care is often necessary as you’re recovering mentally and physically from heroin abuse.

Heroin Withdrawal Process

Heroin withdrawal is challenging, but it’s gotten more manageable thanks to various forms of treatment. Medication-assisted treatment is used to ease the pains and symptoms of withdrawal. It also helps relieve the desire for heroin which is the reason for repeated use of the drug. If your brain isn’t telling your body that it needs heroin, the cravings and withdrawal symptoms aren’t as severe.7

Symptoms can last for 36 hours to 10 days, depending on how long heroin was used.7

Get Help Today for Heroin Addiction

Overcoming a heroin addiction is incredibly difficult and even dangerous. The withdrawal symptoms are severe enough to cause physical damage, and during the process, people are often unable to care for themselves. Concise Recovery is here to help. We use evidence-based and community-based treatment plans to aid you in your recovery. We’re with you every step of the way and provide physical, mental, and emotional support during your recovery.