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How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?

Heroin is an illicit opioid people often snort, smoke, or inject in order to get high. Heroin is extremely short-acting with a half-life of only about 6-15 minutes, which means it only stays in your system for just a few hours.[3]

Struggling with Heroin Addiction? Get Help Now

However, heroin can be detected on drug tests for longer than it stays in your system. Here are the heroin detection windows, broken down by test type:

  • Urine: 1 day
  • Blood: Up to 6 hours
  • Saliva: Up to 6 hours
  • Hair: 90 days or more

Understanding how long heroin stays in your system could help you stay safe. For example, if you know heroin persists for a few hours, you should avoid taking more drugs during that time frame. Knowing how long heroin lasts could also help you understand when you’re likely to fail an employment or law enforcement test for drugs.

If you are searching for how long heroin stays in your system, you are likely struggling with heroin use or addiction, or you know someone who is. Professional treatment is available and can help you on the road to recovery.

How Heroin’s Half-Life Affects How Long It Stays in Your Body

A drug’s half-life refers to the length of time it takes for the body to reduce the drug’s levels by 50%. Heroin’s half-life of between 6 and 15 minutes is extremely short compared to most other drugs. [3]

Because the half-life is so short, that means the amount of heroin in the body is cut by 50% every 6-15 minutes. As such, within one hour, the heroin in a person’s body is already down to about 6% of what it was at the time of use. And within two hours, it’s nearly entirely eliminated.

How Long Can Heroin Be Detected on A Drug Test?

Because heroin only stays in your system for a couple of hours, the detection window for this opioid is also very small.

Heroin can only be detected in urine for about one day, blood and saliva for about 6 hours, sweat for two weeks, and hair for about three months. [4]

Heroin Detection Window

Type of TestDetection Window
Urine1 day
BloodUp to 6 hours
SalivaUp to 6 hours
SweatUp to 14 days
BloodAbout 90 days

Factors That Affect How Long Heroin Stays in Your System

Although heroin generally stays in your system for just a few hours, the exact amount of time depends on many factors, such as:

  • Liver and kidney functioning
  • Heroin purity
  • Amount of heroin used
  • Frequency of use
  • Age
  • Height and weight
  • Body fat content
  • Hydration
  • Genetics

Additionally, individual factors affect how long heroin is detectable in various drug tests. These influences include:

  • Type of drug test administered
  • Patient health
  • The use of other medications
  • Patient nutrition
  • Average dose of heroin used 

Since heroin drug testing time frames can be so variable, it’s difficult to predict just how long you’ll fail a test after using the drug. If you’re worried about losing opportunities due to drug use, it’s best to look into treatment options and quit using heroin for good.

What Happens if You Fail a Drug Test?

Drug tests are used in a wide variety of settings. You must be asked to give a sample before getting a job offer, and you might need to offer another sample to keep your job after you’ve been in an accident. You might also face a drug test if you’ve been in an automobile accident or altercation, and doctors might run drug tests if you’ve collapsed and no one knows why.

Organizations like the Department of Transportation create cutoff values, so experts will know when their subjects have “failed.” If the testing facility uses these rules, a value of 10 mg/mL of heroin metabolites in your urine is a failed test.

If your test detects heroin, the job or opportunity you wanted could fade away altogether. If law enforcement is involved, the consequences could be even more severe.

Heroin is a Schedule I substance per the Controlled Substances Act, so it has no currently accepted medical use. If law enforcement officials get involved in a car crash and you test positive for heroin, they could use that fact against you in court.

How Does Heroin Affect the Body?

Heroin is associated with a rapid, intense euphoric high. It is a short-acting drug considered to have significant abuse and addiction potential because of its rapid onset of effects, rush of pleasure, and short-lived high.

As discussed by the DEA, heroin use causes these effects: [3]

  • A “twilight state” where one falls in and out of consciousness
  • Drowsiness
  • Respiratory depression
  • Constricted pupils
  • Nausea
  • Warm flushing of the skin
  • Dry mouth
  • A feeling of heaviness in the extremities

Heroin can cause physical dependence and addiction. With repeated use, the body can adapt to the drug, causing a person to experience distressing withdrawal symptoms that typically feel like the flu. 

How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System? Too Long

Heroin is a powerful, illegal drug that exits your body very quickly. However, it can be detected in your blood, urine, and other physical samples for six hours or longer if you’re using the substance. A failed test could mean a lost job or, in a worst-case scenario, jail time.

Rather than researching how long heroin stays in your system so you can cheat your next test, look for ways to reduce your drug use and build a healthier life.

Heroin withdrawal can be managed in a medical detox setting, followed by comprehensive addiction treatment. Reach out to enroll in treatment today.

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Medically Reviewed By Dr. Alison Tarlow

Dr. Alison Tarlow is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the States of Florida and Pennsylvania, and a Certified Addictions Professional (CAP). She has been a practicing psychologist for over 15 years. Sh... Read More

Updated March 19, 2024
  1. Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings. (2009). World Health Organization.
  2. Drug Plasma Half-Life and Urine Detection Window. (September 2022). ARUP LABORATORIES.
  3. Heroin. (November 2022). Drug Enforcement Administration.
  4. Opioid Testing. Testing.
  5. Clinical Drug Testing. (August 2022). StatPearls.
  6. Interpretation of Opiate Urine Drug Screens. HealthPartners.
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