How Long Does Heroin Stay Your System

How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System

The University of New Mexico reports that New Mexico historically has one of the highest rates of opioid-related deaths in the United States. If you are a New Mexico resident, you have probably read newspaper articles about heroin use in your community. You may even have friends or family members who use or once used heroin. 

Heroin is an opioid created from morphine, a natural substance in the poppy plant. Opioids such as heroin work by bonding with the opioid receptors in a person’s brain. Heroin creates euphoria and pain relief but is dependence-forming and can contribute to adverse health outcomes when used. However, people who use heroin can achieve recovery. Often, recovery involves taking advantage of professional treatment and a supportive community. 

What Are the Side Effects of Heroin in the System?

When a person uses heroin, the substance enters the brain and binds to the brain’s opioid receptors. These receptors are involved in feelings of pleasure, pain, controlling heart rate, breathing, and sleeping. 

Short-term side effects of heroin use include: 

  • Flushed skin
  • Dry mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Heavy feeling arms and legs
  • Difficulty focusing or remembering things
  • Itching
  • Being “on the nod,” which is a state between consciousness and semi-consciousness
  • Long-term heroin use can lead to conditions such as: 
  • Collapsed veins for those who use needles
  • Damaged tissue in the nose for people who snort heroin
  • Insomnia
  • Heart infections
  • Constipation
  • Stomach cramps
  • Abscesses
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Mental health conditions

How Long Are the Effects of Heroin Felt?

Heroin affects every person slightly differently. Because of this, it is impossible to determine precisely how long heroin will affect a person. 

An excellent general estimate is that the effects of heroin will start a few minutes after a person uses heroin. After an initial euphoric feeling, heroin causes a person to feel tired and relaxed. These effects typically last from four to six hours after heroin use. 

Factors That Affect How Long Heroin Stays in a Person’s System

A few different factors can alter the time heroin stays in a person’s system. The size of the dosage of heroin will play a role in how long the effects of heroin are felt. Similarly, the quality of the heroin will affect how long it stays in a person’s system. Heroin is often mixed with other substances to make it seem like there is more heroin. Pure heroin will have a more significant effect than heroin “cut” with other substances. 

A person’s tolerance to heroin also plays a role. Those who have been using heroin regularly will build a tolerance to heroin and need an increased dose to feel the desired effect. In addition, a person’s individual metabolism will affect how fast the heroin leaves a person’s system. 

The presence of other illicit substances or medications can also affect how long heroin stays in a person’s system. Other substances can increase or decrease the amount of time heroin affects a person based on the characteristics of those substances. 

How Long Can Heroin Be Detected in the Body?

Heroin detection will depend on factors related to the individual. For example, some people metabolize heroin more quickly, and its presence is not detectable for as long. However, there are general guidelines regarding how long a person can test positive for the presence of heroin. 

You can expect heroin to show up in a urine test 24 hours after the last time a person used heroin. 

When it comes to blood tests, heroin is typically detected anywhere from 48 to 72 hours after the last time a person uses heroin. 

Hair follicle tests can detect if a person has used heroin for up to three months after the last time heroin was used. 

Method of Heroin Use

Heroin can be smoked, snorted, and injected. Individuals wanting to experience the most intense rush will choose to inject heroin, which causes an intense rush almost immediately. The other methods affect a person a few minutes after use. 


Heroin Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms happen when a person ends heroin use. This condition occurs because a person’s body becomes accustomed to the presence of heroin. Without heroin in a person’s system, the body needs to adjust. This process usually takes around a week.

It is possible to withdraw from heroin alone at home, but this method is not recommended. Withdrawal includes intense cravings for heroin. It is difficult to resist the temptation to use heroin and make the cravings and other symptoms end. 

Heroin withdrawal resembles a bad case of the flu. However, at times, symptoms can become fatal. This is rare, but it does occur. If you are in a licensed treatment facility, you can be sure that the staff will be ready to treat even the worst withdrawal symptoms. Common heroin withdrawal symptoms include: 

  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Pain in muscles and bones
  • Intense cravings for heroin
  • Cold flashes
  • Restless legs

If you attempt to withdraw from heroin, you can do a few things to increase your chances of success. One is to stay hydrated. This can be difficult if you are experiencing nausea or diarrhea, but staying hydrated will give your body its best chance of recovery. 

Likewise, you should do your best to eat food high in nutritional value. You may not feel like eating, but your body will need nutrients replenished as it works through withdrawal symptoms. Healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are examples of foods to include. Also, green and white tea can aid your liver in processing the remaining toxins from heroin use. 

A supportive community can aid your recovery. People should check in and make sure your recovery is going well. Friends and family can offer encouragement that will motivate you to continue detox. One of the best ways to get support is to go to a detox center. 

At a detox center, medications can be used to decrease a person’s withdrawal symptoms and cravings. These medications give a person the best chance of making it through withdrawal, a problematic first hurdle in a person’s recovery journey. 

When a person completes detoxification, it is recommended that they continue treatment to give them the best chance of success. There are inpatient treatment options that involve living full-time at a treatment center to receive recovery care. However, for some, outpatient treatment options are the best method of care. A treatment center will provide individualized care and evidence-based therapy that gives you the tools needed to achieve recovery. 

Addiction Treatment For Heroin At Shadow Mountain

Shadow Mountain Recovery Centers is proud to offer individualized recovery care for residents of New Mexico and beyond. Our team is equipped to provide treatments that help a person find healing and hope. If you or someone you care about is in need of treatment for heroin use disorder, contact Shadow Mountain at 800-203-8249 to learn more about our wide variety of heroin addiction treatment options. 

FAQs About Heroin Use

How long does heroin affect a person?

Heroin effects can vary slightly from person to person. This variation depends on a person’s metabolism, their tolerance to heroin, how much heroin they have used, the quality of the heroin used, and the presence of other illicit substances. 

Generally, the effects of heroin last from four to six hours. 

How long can heroin be detected in a person’s body?

Generally, heroin shows up in a urine test for 24 hours after a person uses heroin. Blood tests can detect heroin for 48 to 72 hours after heroin use. Hair follicle tests can detect if a person has used heroin for up to three months after heroin was last used. 

Is heroin withdrawal fatal?

Heroin withdrawal is seldom fatal. If it is, it is usually related to dehydration after a person experiences extreme nausea and vomiting. Individuals seeking recovery from heroin use can overcome withdrawal symptoms and find healing and recovery.