How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?

What Is Heroin?

Heroin is one of a group of drugs known as opiates. The drug has strong sedative (‘downer’) and painkilling effects. Most often Heroin comes in powder form. It can vary in colour from brown to white. Users can inject it, sniff it or smoke it on foil or in a tobacco-based joint.

Users of Heroin take the drug because it gives them a feeling of warmth and well-being. Larger doses can make users feel sleepy and very relaxed. Heroin is also a highly addictive drug and there is significant risk of overdose when using the drug. This can lead to coma and respiratory failure, leading to death.

The effects of Heroin can last anywhere from a few minutes to hours, but the drug can stay in your system for much longer. The end of a heroin high doesn’t necessarily mean it’s out of your body. Certainly, this drug can remain in the body for much longer than many people expect it would.

Heroin has various street names such as: Smack, Skag, Horse, H, Gear and Brown.

How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?

There are many variables that will determine how long heroin is detectable in the body. One important consideration is the type of drug test being used to do the testing (urine, saliva or hair) as each type of tests works within a specific timetable of detection.

Drug tests that check for heroin are actually checking for a selection of compounds that includes heroin, morphine and codeine. These are all opiates.

Heroin is only detectable within a short time-frame with some types of drug tests. Other types of drug tests can still pick up drug usage up to three months later.

Another important factor that will determine how long heroin is detectable in the system is the physical makeup of the individual. Here a number of variables combine – body mass, physical activity, state of health, hydration – making it virtually impossible to indicate an exact amount of time in which heroin will show up on a drug test.

Detection Times for Heroin

Heroin can be detected by various testing methods. Saliva drug tests are best for detecting very recent use or for impairment. Urine tests detect drug use in the last few days. A hair follicle test offers the longest history but can’t be used until a week after drug usage.

The most common type of drug test is the urine drug test. Here drug test manufacturers make test membranes for detecting heroin in 2 sensitivities. The less sensitive membrane OPI works with a cut-off of 2000 ng/mL, which is the US standard for Opiates tests. The more sensitive MOR membrane works with a cut-off of 300 ng/mL, giving it a longer detection window.

At Zoom Testing we offer the sensitive, 300 ng/mL Opiates Test for Heroin (MOR)

The following is an estimated range of detection times for Heroin using the three main types of drug test:
Saliva Drug Test: Up to 48 Hours
Urine Drug Test: 2-14 days
Hair Follicle Drug Test – up to 90 days

For more information on drug tests for Heroin, please contact Zoom Testing.

Photo Credit: “BP” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Symic

Zoom Testing is a leading UK drug testing company and a supplier of Drug Test Kits.

This post was originally published in 2014 and has been updated since.

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