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

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