How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?

2 min read · 3 sections

Heroin is an illegal opioid, classified as a Schedule I controlled substance in the U.S. due to its addictive quality, damaging nature, and the fact that it has no approved medical use in the country. It’s typically smoked, snorted or injected for a fast, euphoric high, followed by sensations of contentment, relaxation, and sleepiness.

Heroin Half-Life

Since heroin is an illegal drug, no specific guidelines exist for medicinal use nor the substance’s half life. The half-life of a drug is the amount of time that it takes a person’s metabolism, particularly the liver, to break down the drug and reduce it by half its concentration in the person’s system.

How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?

The rate at which heroin exits the body affects how long it will take before the substance is no longer detectable in various drug tests. The drug tests approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for heroin are those for the blood, saliva, urine, and hair follicle.1 Newer, more advanced tests can detect traces of heroin in the system for a longer period of time since the last dose. Many tests now look for heroin metabolites, which are created when the liver metabolizes the drug. These stay in the system much longer than the actual intoxicant.

The time it takes for a drug to leave an individual’s system and the timeframe during which it’s detectable is highly variable. Some tests can detect the drug for hours, others for days, and still others for months. When it comes to individuals, variables include:

  • Height and weight.
  • Age.
  • Genetics.
  • Body fat content.
  • Amount taken.
  • Drug quality.
  • Metabolism rate.
  • Health of the liver and kidneys.
  • Hydration.

It’s also important to note that heroin can generally be detected much longer in the systems of long-term, heavy users. This is because excessive use causes the drug to be stored in fatty tissues that take much longer to be flushed out than substances that are merely in the blood and other bodily fluids.

Heroin is considered to be one of the most addictive drugs in the world. Alarmingly, heroin use has been on the rise in recent years, with the number of first-time users rising from 90,000 in 2006 to 156,000 in 2012.2 Its use is spreading, from being concentrated primarily in poor, urban areas to more suburban and affluent neighborhoods. The pull of heroin can be strong, but there are many treatment options for this type of drug, including medication, rehabilitation centers, and addiction therapy. No one is beyond help when it comes to addiction, no matter how bad the problem may seem.

Finding Heroin Treatment Near You

Heroin addiction is a large problem that should be handled with the aid of professionals. Medially assisted detox can ensure the patient is safe and as comfortable as possible during withdrawal. However, detox is just the first step in a treatment program. Inpatient and/or outpatient treatment can help you or a loved one acheive lasting recovery.

American Addiction Centers is the parent company of several leading evidence-based treatment facilities scattered throughout the U.S. Its admissions navigators at are available 24/7 to answer your questions, direct you to potential treatment centers, and help you take your first steps toward recovery today.


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