The Relationship Between PTSD and Addiction

If you or a loved one struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you already know how difficult it can be to adapt and cope with your issues. Having PTSD is not just something that military veterans come home with; it’s something that people worldwide struggle with and often have a hard time explaining to others. 

Unfortunately, with all the other struggles that a person with PTSD endures, many will also have to battle a substance use disorder. 

Knowing the signs and understanding how the two work together can help you to find positive coping methods and learn how to control your emotions and triggers to live a more successful and fulfilled life. 

At Soba Recovery, understand that dealing with addiction is hard on its own, and when you have other factors impacting your mental health, it can feel isolating and never-ending. Read on to learn more about the relationship between PTSD and addiction. 

What Is Addiction?

Addiction, or substance use disorder (SUD), is a complex condition that changes the way your brain functions. It makes you believe you need the substance to survive. It messes with your perception of reality and can make you act out in ways you normally wouldn’t. When dealing with addiction, you are often trying to escape the reality you are living in due to personal trauma. 

When you are addicted to a substance, you cannot control your urges to use the substance and make poor decisions in favor of the substance. As soon as a substance you are using disrupts your daily activities and you can’t function without it, you have reached dangerous and concerning levels of your substance use. 

Signs of Addiction

Some signs that you or a loved one is struggling with addiction are:

  • Having a disregard for harmful situations, they put themselves or others into.
  • Not being able to go a day without the substance.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
  • Becoming easily angered or upset.
  • Inability to sleep or keep up hygiene.

Calling out signs of addiction with your loved ones can be difficult, but having a conversation about your concerns only shows them that someone is willing to help.

What Is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that individuals get diagnosed with after a traumatic experience. People with PTSD might struggle with flashbacks and bad dreams about the event that happened to them, causing them to revert to experience the emotions they had at that moment. It can be debilitating for many and cause severe issues in daily life. 

Things that can cause PTSD are:

  • Military combat
  • Abusive relationships
  • Sexual Assault 
  • Natural disasters
  • Childhood trauma
  • Car accident
  • Death of a loved one
  • Being physically attacked

Often, people with PTSD will avoid certain places, things, songs, and even people to avoid any thoughts or flashbacks. Many people have to fully adapt their lives to live without being reminded of the event, and many have a difficult time coping as it’s like reliving a nightmare over and over. 

People with PTSD can have a hard time separating what’s happening currently with memories, and how their environment is around them in one moment could place them back at the moment they experienced trauma. 

You might notice that someone with PTSD will stare blankly for a while, which can be them rewatching a negative memory unfold and then suddenly snap out of it. 

If left untreated by a treatment program that may include medications and behavioral therapies, occurring PTSD can affect you for a lifetime. 

Symptoms of PTSD

There are a few PTSD symptoms to be on the lookout for; here are some to consider:

  • Having difficulty sleeping due to nightmares or intrusive thoughts.
  • Reliving trauma and experiencing flashbacks and bad memories.
  • Becoming easily irritated or upset.
  • Constant blame on oneself.
  • Feelings of guilt.
  • Feelings of irritability. 
  • Suddenly having a blank look in their eyes as they stare off.
  • Avoiding certain people and places or having visceral reactions to objects, sounds, or names.
  • Drug use or they may abuse alcohol.

If you notice someone is dealing with PTSD, the best plan of action is to try to get them help so that they can learn how to cope appropriately. This can be difficult to discuss, but it’s so important and helpful!

How PTSD and Addiction Are Connected

It is actually widespread for someone with PTSD also to have substance use issues. 50% of people who have been diagnosed with PTSD will be diagnosed with substance use disorder. 

People with PTSD often self-medicate because of how frequent and debilitating their symptoms are. Drugs and alcohol might subdue the pain by making you forget the trauma and feel outside of your body for a brief moment, but this is not a good way to cope overall. 

PTSD alters your brain chemistry similarly to addiction, but they work together to justify the behavior. After experiencing a traumatic event, your brain will produce fewer endorphins, and so the way for people to experience those feelings of happiness is through mood-enhancing substances. 

There are many triggers that people with PTSD have that could use substances to combat that feeling.

Both addiction and PTSD are occurring disorders that affect a person’s memory, and when they are combined, they intensify the feelings that one might feel in a situation. Substance use gives people the ability to forget memories that bring them pain, but with the right help, you can find better ways to cope with your trauma. 

Signs of Substance Use In People With PTSD

It can often be hard to see when people with PTSD struggle with substance use because some of the signs are very similar from an outside perspective. Some examples of substance abuse include alcohol and drug abuse. 

There are a few ways you can tell when someone is using drugs or alcohol to a dangerous extent to help cope with their PTSD:

  • If while intoxicated, the person is extremely withdrawn.
  • They experience more depression and anxiety.
  • They might be extremely nervous until they have used a substance.
  • If they are using substances more frequently throughout the day.
  • If they become secretive about what they spend their time doing and withdraw themselves from situations, they are used to. 
  • Arousal and reactivity.

For those dealing with PTSD and substance abuse like drug use or alcohol use disorder, substance abuse treatment, addiction treatment, and counseling may be helpful for your road to recovery. Substance abuse treatments will have you go through a detox period to help you get one step closer to sobriety. While relapse may be a fear, it is less likely to occur with the right program and support. 

Getting Help At Soba Recovery Centers

When it comes to struggling with addiction and PTSD, you are not alone. Soba Recovery is here to assist you through your recovery and set you up for success upon your return to the community. 

Soba Recovery focuses on the individual’s needs, and so for those who have PTSD and addiction, the sessions you attend will be geared towards treating your PTSD as well. We understand that you can’t treat one without treating the other and that success does not happen if you don’t care for all of your needs. 

By evaluating how the two work together for your specific case, we can help to create positive coping methods to practice when experiencing stress. 

Soba Recovery Centers are located in two treatment facilities: San Antonio, TX, and Mesa, AZ; we offer various services, like inpatient, outpatient, and sober living to help assist you through these darker times. You will leave out facilities with confidence that will help you fight back against your addiction and know how to prepare for PTSD episodes. 

There is a treatment option for everyone, no matter what your diagnosis is. Treatment outcomes will vary upon the person and treatment program.

If you have other questions about the services we offer, please reach out to a Soba Recovery Center representative; we are happy to help! 



Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorders: Advances in Assessment and Treatment | NCBI

What Is Addiction? | American Psychiatric Association 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Addiction | Dual Diagnosis 

How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System?

Your reaction to cocaine can vary depending on multiple factors, like weight, metabolism, age, or even hydration levels, so it’s hard to give an exact answer of how long it stays in your system. Typically, cocaine can test in your system anywhere from two days to several months, depending on what kind of test you are taking. 

It can show up in a blood or saliva test for up to two days, in a urine test for up to three days, and can last for several months when a hair test is done. You might not feel the effects of cocaine for this long of a period, but that doesn’t mean it’s fully flushed out of your system. 

Cocaine is considered a schedule II drug by the Controlled Substances Act because it has a high risk for abuse and dependence. It also has been used in medical settings for treatments, though rarely anymore. If you are someone who has used cocaine recently or uses it chronically and might be looking for some guidance, Soba Recovery Center offers a variety of services to support you! 

When To Expect the Effects of Cocaine

Depending on how you ingest cocaine, you might feel the effects come on at different times. How cocaine gets into your system might also impact the intensity or duration of the high. You can snort, inject, smoke, and orally take cocaine, and each will produce a different onset of the effects

Smoking and injecting cocaine will result in a much quicker onset of the effects, as quick as 5-10 seconds after using, and will last for 20 minutes. Snorting and taking cocaine orally will show the effects of using anywhere from 3-5 minutes after, but the effects can last up to 90 minutes when taken orally. How long it lasts will change depending on who you are as a person, but overall, it doesn’t last long, hence why people use it frequently–to get that sustained feeling of euphoria.

During your high, you might feel:

  • Overly confident
  • Hyper-stimulated
  • Alert
  • Aroused

But the high will come to a crashing end, where you will end up experiencing quite the opposite feelings and symptoms, like:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Dilated pupils and rapid breathing
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure

People might try to skip out on these dark feelings by continuing to gain that euphoria once more, only assisting in the development of a dependency to the drug. 

Overdosing on Cocaine

Prolonged and excessive use of cocaine can result in a condition called cocaine intoxication, which can be very painful and dangerous to experience. You might be able to determine if you think you or a loved one is experiencing cocaine intoxication due to the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Agitation and confusion
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Hyperactivity
  • Kidney damage
  • Stroke 
  • Tremors and intense sweating
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Chest pain
  • Seizures
  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Psychosis

If you or anyone you know is experiencing these systems, contact a medical professional immediately to get help. Being monitored by trained professionals is a way to increase your risk of recovery and safety, which is why inpatient treatments are extremely beneficial. 

How Long Will The Effects Last?

Typically, cocaine might affect a person for around an hour, sometimes shorter and sometimes longer. Many factors influence how long it will last in your system. After an hour, cocaine will have eliminated about half of itself from the bloodstream, as it is a fast-acting drug. 

Cocaine will have been metabolized by enzymes rapidly in the liver and blood, which would not be detectable in a drug test. The drug tests screen for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine that is detectable for longer than cocaine. So, if you use cocaine once, you will probably only feel its effects for the next 24 hours, including the comedown. If you are using cocaine daily and frequently, you might have longer-lasting side effects, followed by more dramatic crashing feelings. 

Depending on how you test for cocaine, your results may vary. Different tests can detect either cocaine or benzoylecgonine in your system on different timelines:

  • Blood: A blood test can detect cocaine in your system for up to 12 hours and benzoylecgonine for up to 48 hours. 
  • Saliva: Like a blood test, saliva helps to detect benzoylecgonine in your system for up to two days.
  • Urine: A urine test will probably be the most accurate test you’ll take and can detect benzoylecgonine in the system for up to 72 hours. If you are a frequent and heavy user of cocaine, urine tests can show it in your system for up to two weeks
  • Hair: A hair test can show benzoylecgonine in your system for several months, but that might vary depending on where the sample is taken from. 

Factors that influence the length it lasts

Several factors can influence how long cocaine stays in your system and how long the effects last. These factors are different for everyone, making it hard to say an exact time that cocaine’s effects will last.

  • Frequency: Some studies have shown that the more frequently and the more cocaine you use, the longer that benzoylecgonine will remain in the system and be detected. There will be higher amounts of cocaine in your system if you use it daily, making it harder to flush out.
  • Hydration levels: Water speeds up the excretion process of cocaine, so if you are dehydrated, it may stay in your system for longer.
  • Alcohol consumption: Alcohol can bind to cocaine and slow the excretion process down.
  • Body fat: Benzoylecgonine can be stored in fatty tissue, so if you are someone with more body fat, it might stay in your system for longer as it builds up in the fat
  • The method used: The faster that cocaine gets into the system, the faster it gets out, so if you are smoking or injecting it, it will enter your system and get out quicker than snorting or orally ingesting. 

Getting Cocaine Out of Your System

There are no tricks or tips about how to get cocaine out of your body quickly. Some people claim that drinking copious amounts of water, taking natural antidotes, or eliminating caffeine and alcohol can help to flush it from your system. While the idea behind it might seem somewhat reasonable, cocaine is not impacted by any of these brief and unsubstantiated claims. 

If you are looking to get cocaine out of your system, the only fool-proof way to do so is to quit using it so that it can thoroughly flush out of your body. Your body needs to metabolize and discard benzoylecgonine before it can be free of the drug fully, but if you continue to use it, it will never actually go away. 

Getting Help at Soba Recovery Centers

Quitting any drug means a long and difficult path towards recovery, but it’s always worth it in the end. Cocaine is no different from alcohol or heroin in the way that it can create long-term and short-term issues for those who use it, damaging relationships and putting health and stability at risk. Sometimes recovery means asking for help outside of your inner circle and putting your health in the hands of trained professionals.

Inpatient services offer 24/7 monitoring, different therapy methods to try, and a community of people who want the same thing: sobriety and control of their lives. At Soba Recovery Centers, we create personalized treatment plans that will enable you to become who you deserve to be. You can jump right into inpatient treatment or start with outpatient group therapy. 

Speak with a Soba representative to learn about our many treatment services and what we think would be best for your journey to recovery. Don’t waste another day wondering how you can overcome your addiction. Get started at Soba Recovery!



Drug Fact Sheet: Cocaine | Drug Enforcement Administration

Cocaine Drug Facts | National Institute on Drug Abuse

Metabolic Enzymes Of Cocaine Metabolite Benzoylecgonine | NCBI

A Sensitive Assay For Urinary Cocaine Metabolite Benzoylecgonine Shows More Positive Results And Longer Half-Lives Than Those Using Traditional Cut-Offs | Wiley Analytical Science

Cocaine And Metabolites Urinary Excretion After Controlled Smoked Administration* | Journal of Analytical Toxicology

Inpatient vs. Outpatient: How Do They Differ?

When you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, it can be overwhelming to navigate the multiple kinds of treatment services that rehab facilities offer. If you aren’t familiar with rehabilitation facilities and their processes, you might leave your search feeling more discouraged than you anticipated. 

When it comes to finding what you need at a trusted rehabilitation center, the main thing to know is that they will offer two primary services: inpatient and outpatient.

No matter what services you end up signing up for, know that you are completing one of the hardest parts, and that’s asking for help.  

The Main Similarities

The main similarity between both inpatient and outpatient care is behind their intentions. Both treatments are there to help you or your loved ones become healthier and overcome their addiction. 

In many cases, inpatient and outpatient services will be recommended for you to partake in, with outpatient coming after you have participated in inpatient. This has to do with the severity of the substance use that is being treated. 

Both inpatient and outpatient treatments offer multiple services, from personalized therapy, group therapy, detoxification, or medication; all are meant to help overcome addiction. When it comes down to it, the main difference between the two is that you are admitted into a stay at the facility with an inpatient. With outpatient, you will be traveling from your home or sober living situation into the center for care. 

Knowing the differences between inpatient and outpatient makes it a lot easier to decide which form of care would be best for you. As always, if you are not sure and want to speak to a medical professional more about your specific situation, call someone at Soba Recovery Centers to learn more.

Inpatient Care

When you decide on inpatient care, a huge team of supporters might be behind you that helped you get to this decision. It’s not easy to get up and press pause on the life that you live to focus on your health. Inpatient care means that you take a step back from your responsibilities to focus on recovery fully. 

With inpatient care, you are provided around-the-clock close monitoring because it will benefit you the most. The path to recovery is best done with support and care. 

Inpatient care will provide you with round-the-clock care from highly trained medical professionals who, trust us, know what they are doing! While you are undergoing care, you can feel safe knowing that the people taking care of you are trained to do so. Allowing yourself to be taken care of and helped is essential in the recovery process!

The last thing you want to do is relapse, and what goes hand-in-hand with relapse is a lack of self-care and focus. Being inside a recovery center whose main goal is to get you better, you have your full focus directed on yourself and your needs. 

We get that being a spouse, sibling, parent, employee, caretaker, whatever it may be, can be emotionally and physically taxing. You need to focus on yourself to move forward in your recovery, and inpatient care is there to help.   

How To Prepare

When you are preparing to enter an inpatient treatment facility, you should understand that you will be putting your life on pause. You have to make arrangements for anyone you care for, whether it be children or pets, to be taken care of. 

Anything that you are in charge of, you need to find someone to cover for you so that when you come back from the center, you aren’t placed directly back into chaos, expecting to take care of yourself and all your overdue tasks.

It can be difficult, but communicating with the people around you about your situation can help you prepare. You can release some of the stress you build up by simply telling people where you will be and what your goals are. This can help get some additional support from those around you, so they know why you might be asking for a bit more help. 

Some things you should add to your to-do list to prepare for inpatient care:

  • Make sure that children and pets have someone to take care of them.
  • Consider the price you will have to pay for the treatment and talk with providers to understand the financial obligations.
  • Speak with your employer about your situation and being off work while you are in the facility.
  • Pay any bills or meet due dates before entering the facility. 
  • Know what you can and can’t take with you to your rehab facility.
  • Know the rough estimate of how many days you will be away.
  • Find someone that can take you to and from the recovery center.
  • Make sure you give contact information to your family so they can reach out to you at the center and vice versa.
  • Bring a journal or pad to write in; it can help the time go by when you are without your loved ones. 

Everyone will have a different experience when it comes to their recovery and the treatment they undergo. Inpatient is meant to curate a recovery plan specific to your needs so that you will be successful. Not everyone will benefit from the same activities, procedures, medications, etc. 

While all treatment plans usually become individual as you make changes and adapt to your own needs, inpatient care wants to prioritize you from the start so that you have the full support needed to overcome addiction. 

What To Expect

When you arrive at inpatient treatment, there are a few things that you might expect to see: all white everything, sterile labs, metal beds, people in hospital bed gowns, and very harsh lighting coming from the ceiling. 

Wrong! An inpatient treatment facility is nothing like that of a horror movie hospital. Most facilities want to capture the feeling that you’re at your home-away-from-home. You should be comfortable at your inpatient facility because the goal is to provide professional treatment that will help you get out and live your best life. 

You should expect to be on a strict schedule, with around-the-clock care. That means that no matter what kind of care you need—physical, emotional, or psychological—you can get it at any point. You won’t be left alone if you don’t want to be. The staff is trained to work with your needs to make a recovery as easy as possible. 

Things you should be prepared for when at inpatient treatment are:

  • A strict schedule: Most of your days might seem rigid, but staying occupied can help when trying to overcome a substance use disorder. 
  • Daily, if not multiple, visits from professionals: Whether it be in individual or group therapy, you will see psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors throughout your day to monitor your progress and assist you in any way you need emotionally and mentally. Everyone serves a different purpose, and collectively they are essential in your recovery process. 
  • Medically assisted detoxification: The process of detoxing from a substance can be terrifying to think about going through alone, but with inpatient care, you are monitored and taken care of throughout the process. This helps to alleviate stress and make sure that you stay safe. 
  • Speaking with your loved ones: When you go to inpatient treatment, you aren’t cut off from your loved ones. You can carve out time to talk with them and see them (especially if you are there for long periods).

How Long It Will Last

Depending on your individual needs, you could be at inpatient treatment anywhere from several days to six months. The severity of your substance use disorder will affect how long you stay. 

Everyone’s journey is different. It’s hard to say exactly how long you will be there, so that’s why planning is important!

Outpatient Care

Outpatient care is often the next step you take after completing inpatient care. Hopefully, the rehab center (like here at Soba) you are coming from after inpatient will have outpatient services, so it’s easier to make the transition. Outpatient services don’t require you to be at the facility but allow you to come back onto the campus and receive continued care during your recovery.

This way, your transition back into the community isn’t abrupt and harsh. Going back into an environment that you relate to your addiction can be challenging and triggering. Having the ability to go to and from your recovery center for services allows you to hold yourself accountable while also understanding that recovery is hard and the urges will be there. Having somewhere that you feel safe going back to will be essential in your recovery.

For some, though, going into outpatient care does not come as a result of finishing inpatient treatment and is the first step that someone takes in their path to recovery. Typically outpatient services are more affordable while still offering professional and good quality treatment. 

Suppose you can’t stop working altogether or don’t have the ability to have your children watched for weeks. In that case, outpatient allows you to take the time to better yourself while also allowing you to maintain everything you need at home. We want you to succeed in all aspects of life, and these services may help you achieve your goals!  

Preparing For Departure From Inpatient

If you are coming to the end of your stay at an inpatient treatment facility, you might still feel like you aren’t ready to dive back into normalcy. Having somewhat of a buffer between leaving the facility and being on your own can help you build better habits with the help of counselors and psychologists. 

This kind of treatment is less time-consuming than inpatient, but you should still expect to see somewhat of a schedule and have a time commitment to it. Sometimes you can reach between 10-15 hours a week spent at the facility, not including time traveled to get there. 

Outpatient treatment does not offer 24-hour support and assistance, so you must have other people, whether a trusted loved one or a sponsor, available to you when you need help. Being monitored closely to having free will is sometimes enough to trigger a relapse, so outpatient helps monitor your progress and sobriety. 

Starting Off With Outpatient Care

If you have finally decided to seek help with your addiction, outpatient care can help by providing monitored detoxification, group and individual therapy sessions, and planning. 

You might be nervous to show up, but you take a step towards your recovery each day that you do. Outpatient care staff are trained professionals who show up every day to help you throughout your recovery, so take advantage of all the support you can get from us!

What To Expect

When you begin the outpatient treatment, you learn ways to cope with your addiction. We know that we are sending you back off into the community at the end of our sessions, where we can’t keep an eye on you. Outpatient services often offer various learning opportunities surrounding addiction, relapsing, coping mechanisms, and more so that you are better equipped to be on your own afterward.

With outpatient services, you can maintain your normal lifestyle of spending time with your family, attending work or going to school. You can learn ways to incorporate what you’ve learned at outpatient into your everyday life in what some might feel is a more organic way. You are never entirely taken out of your life and placed in a facility. Therefore you still have to take care of your everyday obligations. 

With outpatient services, you should also accept early mornings or late nights. Many of the meetings and events will happen at “off” times to accommodate work and school schedules. Staying committed and having the support of those around you can help you to be successful throughout your outpatient services

Comparing the Two

With both outpatient and inpatient services, you will find personal advantages and disadvantages that you may find. It’s good to understand how they compare so you can figure out which service will benefit you most. 

Of course, speaking to a professional who works at one of these recovery centers, like Soba Recovery Centers, is another way for you to gauge if inpatient or outpatient treatment is right for you.


There are many advantages to both inpatient and outpatient, but if you are someone who likes to see it spelled out clearly in a listicle, this is for you:

Inpatient Treatment

  • 24-hour professional assistance.
  • Set a schedule for activities and sessions.
  • Ability to see your family and speak to them frequently.
  • Personalized treatment that can be monitored.

Outpatient Treatment

  • Less of a time commitment.
  • Can be more affordable.
  • Ability to stay at home and work while in treatment.
  • Teaches coping and integration through your current experiences.


Like all services, you might find that some advantages are disadvantages, and that’s okay. You must do what’s best for you, so understanding what you want from your treatment can help to make that decision easier. 

Inpatient Treatment

  • Being away from your family and friends for long periods.
  • Explaining your absence to your employer, which can be very stressful.
  • It can become expensive.
  • Often encourages outpatient treatment services after the fact to help with transitioning back to normalcy.

Outpatient Treatment

  • You have times where you aren’t being monitored, which can cause anxiety for some.
  • Your home life might not be helpful in your recovery as it could be triggering.

Get Help At Soba Recovery

The first step towards recovery is asking for help. We know how hard it can be to get there, and we here at Soba Recovery Centers want to ensure that we make it as easy as possible for you to get the help you deserve.

We offer inpatient services and intensive outpatient and outpatient services in San Antonio, TX, and Mesa, AZ. Our staff are trained professionals who want to help you, so don’t be afraid to give us a call with any questions.

No matter which services you end up taking part in at Soba, you can feel good knowing you’re in the right hands.



Effectiveness and Cost-effectiveness of Four Treatment Modalities for Substance Disorders: A Propensity Score Analysis | NCBI

Types of Treatment Programs | National Institute on Drug Abuse

Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient Programs: Assessing the Evidence | NCBI

How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?

Heroin is an opioid drug made from morphine, which comes from the seed pod of poppy plants. It is illegal in the United States and many places worldwide because it is hazardous, sometimes causing overdose and often addiction in those who use it. It’s not usually a drug that people choose to start using and is classified as a Schedule I drug. People often work their way up to it, finding it very hard to quit using and recover. 

Heroin is a fast-acting drug, meaning that sometimes it’s not so easy to detect it if it hasn’t been consumed recently. The effects of using heroin can last up to 30 minutes. The drug and its metabolites can stay in your system for up to 4 days. Of course, depending on the test you are taking, you might be able to detect the metabolites in your system for up to 90 days. So while heroin itself will break down, the metabolites will store themselves in your body for longer. 

Quitting heroin can be extremely difficult and dangerous to do on your own, so understanding the drug’s risks can help you make more informed decisions. Monitoring a loved one trying to detox from heroin can be challenging, so placing them in inpatient care is often an easy way to feel more comfortable about their condition. At Soba Recovery, we want to help you understand and learn how to support those struggling with addiction.

Feeling Heroin’s Effects

When people use heroin, they experience a rush of euphoria that is unlike anything else. This sense of euphoria is often unable to be reached without the drug, making it easy to become addictive. Once heroin enters your brain, it is converted to morphine and binds to opioid receptors

Along with an intense feeling of euphoria, side effects of heroin include flushing of the skin, dry mouth, nausea, severe itching, and “heavy” in the arms and legs. During the comedown after using heroin, you will feel slow. You might be drowsy, have a clouded mental state, and your heart rate and breathing slow. 

It doesn’t take long to feel the effects of heroin, and depending on how you have ingested it, the timeline could change. The euphoric feeling will last for up to a few minutes, followed by other peak effects for 2 hours. After 3-5 hours, the high will wear off, but the comedown then ensues. Once the high is gone, you are left to feel very tired. 

Overdosing on Heroin

Street heroin is often combined with other drugs like cocaine or ketamine and poses a severe risk for those ingesting it. The risk of overdosing on heroin is too high, considering that the mixing of drugs, which is very likely, could cause even more of a lethal combination. Heroin will depress the respiratory system and slow the heart rate down, leading to serious side effects like comas. 

If you are someone who uses heroin frequently, you might take more of it when it’s not yet out of your system, causing an accidental overdose. Some symptoms of an overdose are:

  • Very shallow breathing
  • Weak pulse
  • Discoloration
  • Low blood pressure
  • Confusion and delirium
  • Coma
  • Tiny pupils

If you have come across someone who seems to be overdosing, call an emergency medical professional immediately if you don’t have Naloxone, which will help reverse the effects of opioids. 

How Long Heroin Lasts in Your System

Heroin is a very rapid-acting drug, which enters the body and exits the body pretty quickly. It metabolizes into 6-acetyl morphine and morphine, which enter the brain and act on receptors that are related to pain suppression, euphoria, and dysphoria. Typically, heroin is only detectable for a few days after the last use of it, but it really depends on the kind of testing you are getting done. 

  • Blood: The 6-AM assay test allows for heroin metabolites to be detected in the blood, though this is mainly useful when testing people who have recently passed or been in accidents to determine if street heroin was used or prescribed opioids for pain
  • Urine: Urine tests are most frequently used when trying to test for heroin in the system. Heroin will be detected in a urine test for up to 4 days after last use, and in some frequent users, it could be for longer, depending on how much heroin has built up in their system.
  • Saliva: Saliva tests are very accurate, but only if you are using them very soon after the last usage. It might not be as useful to use a saliva test if you are testing for a timeline of a few days.
  • Hair: If you are tested for heroin in your system using a hair test, it will show in the results for up to 90 days after last using it. If you are a constant user, it might show up in your hair for much longer than 90 days.

Factors that affect how long heroin lasts

Heroin is often pushed out of your system through your kidney in the form of urine, but it also exits through sweat, saliva, and even feces. Your weight, body mass, and metabolism will impact the rate at which heroin is pushed out of your body and for how long you might test positive for it. If you are unwell, you might take more time to get the heroin out of your system, making you test positive for it for longer.

  • Frequency: How long heroin will be detectable is determined by how much heroin was actually taken. If it’s your first time using it, you won’t have high amounts of it in your system, so it should flush out within a few days if you don’t take it anymore. If you are a chronic user, it can last for a week or more in your system and be detectable by a test.
  • Drug interactions: Heroin is often mixed or cut with other drugs, like fentanyl, cocaine, or ketamine. This can create a drug cocktail of sorts that could be extremely dangerous, especially if you are unsure what the heroin is mixed with.
  • Drug Purity: With street heroin, the purity level you are getting with some doses could end up being stronger than others. These levels will impact how long the drug stays in your system. 

Getting Heroin Out of Your System

Unfortunately, there is no way to speed up the process of heroin elimination. The only way to get heroin out of your system is to stop using it. Your body needs to flush out those toxins naturally, and if you keep taking more, you will never be free from addiction. The best way to get heroin out of your system is to join a detox program and ask for support from your loved ones. 

It’s almost guaranteed that they want to see you get healthy!

Get Help with Soba Recovery

For monitored, professional, and dedicated help, visit us here at Soba Recovery Centers. When you struggle with an addiction to heroin, you know just how hard it can be to ask for help, let alone get it. We want to offer you personalized care to fit your needs and help you in your path to recovery. 

Soba Recovery Centers are located in San Antonio, Texas, and Mesa, Arizona, where we have various treatment options, from partial hospitalization, inpatient care and sober living. There’s something for everyone here, and if you are serious about wanting to get help, we will get you to where you want to be! We want to help you, so feel free to reach out to a representative if you have any questions or concerns.



Heroin Drug Facts | National Institute on Drug Abuse

What Are The Immediate (Short-Term) Effects Of Heroin Use? | National Institute on Drug Abuse

Naloxone Drug Facts | National Institute on Drug Abuse

Clinical And Forensic Diagnosis Of Very Recent Heroin Intake By 6-Acetylmorphine Immunoassay Test And Lc-Ms/Ms Analysis In Urine And Blood | NCBI

How Does Heroin Affect the Brain?

People who use heroin know of the effects that this opiate has throughout the body, but the effects on their brains might not be so well understood. 

Heroin is a central nervous system depressant that, when snorted, injected, or smoked, enters the body and attaches itself to opioid receptors that work to alter your brain’s reward system. You might get a rush of euphoria when you first use heroin, as it attaches to cells that impact pleasure and pain.

This Schedule 1 drug is highly addictive, and while it gives you many short-term physical side effects, it also has a long-lasting impact on your brain’s chemistry and ability to function.

What Is Heroin?

Heroin is an opioid that is created when morphine is taken from the seed pod of the opium poppy plant. This drug needs a warmer climate to thrive in, so it’s often grown in places like Colombia, Mexico, Southeast Asia, and Southwest Asia. 

Heroin can look like a white or brown powder, or it can be black and sticky, which is known as black tar heroin. No matter the kind or form of heroin you find, it will have lasting effects that are hazardous to the longevity of your life.

Signs of Heroin Use

It’s easy to tell whenever someone isn’t really acting like themselves. If you suspect that a loved one might be using a drug like heroin, there are some signs that you could look at. 

Often it is hard for someone who uses heroin to speak up about their struggles because, 1. they might not necessarily want to stop using, and 2. It can be extremely scary to admit that you need help.

If you notice some of the following signs, it might be time to talk to them about what you can do to support them:

  • Depression and euphoria; severe mood swings
  • Hostility, agitation, restlessness, and irritability towards others
  • Possession of burned tools, like needles, spoons, and syringes
  • Missing shoelaces or belts
  • Wearing long pants and shirts during warmer weather
  • Extreme itching and scabbing of the skin
  • Chills, goosebumps, or sweats
  • Regular nausea, vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Track marks on their arms and legs

How Heroin Affects Your Brain

Your brain naturally produces and releases opioid chemicals that help to relieve pain. They aren’t going to be strong enough to help stop chronic pains but these bursts of opioid chemicals when you’re in pain help to take some of the discomforts away. 

Heroin is the stronger version of these opioid neurotransmitters. When it binds to these receptors, it releases a surge of dopamine that helps to calm you and make you feel better. 

Once your brain has gotten a slight taste for this influx of happiness, it becomes harder for your brain to release natural opioid chemicals, making it essential (to your brain) that you consume more drugs to achieve this feeling again.

Short-Term Effects

Shortly after using heroin, the main thing you will notice is how you physically feel. You may feel warmth under your skin or heavy in your arms and legs. Some short-term effects of heroin on your brain are:

  • Drowsiness and fogged memory: For several hours after using, you might be quite drowsy and tired. You might also struggle with some mental clearness which can feel like brain fog.
  • Slowed breathing: This change in respiration can be extremely dangerous, as if there is a lack of oxygen getting to the brain, it could lead to severe brain damage.
  • Depletes attention: Constant usage of heroin can easily lead you to be very inattentive. You might struggle with paying attention or participating in conversations as you cannot listen to what they are saying.
  • Confusion: When you use heroin, you won’t be coherent. It might be difficult to converse with others, and you might not understand what is happening.  

Long-Term Effects

When you use heroin for a long period of time, it eventually begins to take a toll on your overall well-being. 

Long-term effects of heroin include: 

  • Blood clots
  • Lung infections like tuberculosis or pneumonia
  • Collapsed veins and abscesses
  • Damage to the blood vessels that lead to the liver, lungs, and kidneys
  • Infectious diseases such as hepatitis or HIV
  • Fatal overdose

Issues in the brain and cognition can also be a long-term effect of heroin abuse. Lasting effects on your brain of using heroin are:

  • Cognitive impairment: When you have used heroin long-term, harmful proteins begin to build up inside the brain.
    Heroin use creates inflammation in the brain which can cause structural changes that will cause you to experience mental decline, memory loss, confusion, and personality changes similar to those in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Deteriorates white matter: White matter, which is essential in communication between the brain and spinal cord, starts to deteriorate when you use heroin for extended periods of time.
    This then impacts your memory and focus negatively and can make things a lot harder to function. Less white matter in your brain can make regulating your emotions, behavior, and stress very difficult.
  • Long-term imbalances: The physical shape of your brain will alter with long-term heroin use. This throws off many functioning systems in your body. Neurological imbalance can cause strokes, infections, dementia, and seizures. 
  • Respiratory suppression: This is when your brain is not getting enough oxygen, leading to brain damage

Treatment For Heroin Overdose

There are ways to help you and your loved one in the case of an overdose. Understanding how to react when an overdose is happening around you could help save a life. 

Having Naloxone, an opioid receptor antagonist medication that can quickly reverse the effects of an overdose. Narcan is fast-acting and works by binding to opioid receptors in your brain, preventing heroin from activating them.

Narcan is great to have, but heroin addiction treatment is going to be what truly saves you. Getting help at a recovery center will provide you with the best treatment and set you up for success further down the line of your recovery. 

Getting Help At Soba Recovery

If you or a loved one are struggling with heroin addiction, you are not alone. You must know that there are ways for you to get help. Soba Recovery Centers, located in Mesa, Arizona, and San Antonio, Texas, are here to make things easier. 

The hardest step in your recovery is going to be the one where you ask for help. 

Soba Recovery offers many different addiction treatment programs and services for every kind of individual. Our treatment is meant to be personalized to you and your substance use to make sure you get the help you need. 

Everyone deals with their substance use differently, so it makes sense that treatments for people will vary. We work with you to provide the best treatment possible for you, so if you need to ask a few questions first, just reach out to a Soba representative!

We offer inpatient and outpatient services for our patients at Soba Recovery. You are welcome to stay with us for as long as you need at our inpatient to become a healthier you and those who struggle with using heroin. It can be difficult to deal with the effects of withdrawal, and we offer detoxification services so that you don’t have to go through it alone. 

Getting help can mean you have a chance at living the life that you deserve. 



Heroin Drugfacts | National Institute on Drug Abuse

How Does Heroin Affect The Brain?: Heroin’s Effects On The Mind | American Addiction Centers

Brain White Matter Integrity In Heroin Addicts During Methadone Maintenance Treatment Is Related To Relapse Propensity | NCBI