The metabolization, or breaking down, of heroin, occurs quickly in your system. Therefore, heroin does not last long in your body.
Heroin’s intense euphoric effects wear out within an hour of your last dose. However, heroin’s inactive metabolites may stay in the body long.
The answer to the question ‘how long does heroin stay in your system?” depends on various individual factors specific to the user. The dose and frequency of using heroin are the key factors influencing the retention of this substance in your body.
Drug tests can detect heroin traces in your system. However, the detection windows for drugs vary depending on samples such as urine, blood, saliva, and hair.
An Overview of Heroin Usage
Heroin is an opioid drug derived from poppy resin, a natural substance.
As you already know, it is commonly used as a recreational drug for its euphoric effects. It has excellent medicinal value in pain relief therapy and opioid addiction treatment.
Unfortunately, it is a highly addictive drug that gradually leads to dependence. In addition, taking this substance in excess or in combination with other drugs may cause fatal side effects.
Heroin is a highly addictive opiate drug derived from morphine. Heroin users often inject, snort, or smoke it. It’s the common prey to drug abuse that causes substance use disorders.
Misusing illicit heroin and prescription opioid painkillers is a major opioid crisis in the U.S. and Europe. Heroin and prescription opioids produce similar effects. For this reason, patients who become dependent on prescription opioids may turn to heroin for a high or to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Thus, it is worth learning how long heroin remains in your body. This knowledge helps prevent overdose on prescription opioids that contain heroin and administer treatment for heroin addiction.
Apart from that, if you are confused about your health conditions, you can easily consider drug addiction help from reputable healthcare who provide addiction help. Gain knowledge to make better decisions this time.
Heroin Effects on Your Body
Morphine in heroin interferes with brain activity, specifically its neurotransmitters, neurons, and receptors. Furthermore, morphine produces strong euphoria and pain relief effects.
According to a study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, the significant heroin metabolites are morphine and diacetylmorphine. Morphine binds to the opioid receptors and produces relaxation, drowsiness, and euphoric pleasure, slowing down the heartbeat and respiratory rates.
Heroin is more effective than using morphine pills. The levels of monoacetylmorphine (6-MAM) from heroin increase rapidly in your bloodstream, reaching their maximum concentrations after 2.0 and 4.3 min. It is followed by a gradual increase in morphine levels in the blood and reaches its maximum concentration between 12 and 21 minutes. Similarly, the effects of morphine from heroin last a long time in your body, while the actual heroin stays there for only a few minutes.
Heroin metabolizes rapidly, and its metabolites produce euphoric effects in less than a minute. Furthermore, smoking or injecting heroin can help one feel euphoric in five to twenty seconds.
The metabolization process
Heroin is rapidly broken down in the body. The experiments in vitro suggest that the ability to hydrolyze heroin rapidly is a phenomenon. Incubates found in the user’s liver, kidney, blood, and brain are highly active in deacetylating heroin.
Heroin reaches its half-life in just a few minutes after entering the body. In most cases, it breaks down into its metabolite, morphine, and other variations of the morphine-like compound, such as 6-diacetylmorphine.
Some research results have shown that morphine glucuronide is the major metabolite of heroin in urine.
How long heroin stays in your system depends on the frequency and amount of drug use.
It is critical to note that heroin in its original form stays in the body for only a few minutes. However, drug tests can trace the metabolites of heroin in your system for longer.
The half-life of morphine is about 7 hours and 6 to 30 minutes for 6-diacetylmorphine. Morphine that lasts longer in the body continues to produce euphoric effects in your body. Even so, the intense sensation of the euphoric effects of heroin is short-lived. For this reason, an individual seeks out another dose of heroin while the morphine from the previous dose remains active and effective in the body.
Drug Tests for Tracing Heroin in Your Body
Drug tests for heroin can detect its metabolites like morphine, diacetylmorphine, and others. It is almost impossible to identify heroin in its actual form in your system, as it quickly breaks down.
The urine test is the most common drug test for heroin. A urinalysis generally detects drug use only in the previous 2–3 days for most drugs. Heroin can be detected in urine for up to 72 hours.
One of the recent studies has demonstrated that the 6-AM assay test, originally developed for urine, is also sufficiently sensitive to identify 6-AM in blood.
Drug tests on blood, saliva, or hair can also detect this drug’s metabolites. However, the detection window for heroin will fluctuate for each test depending on several individual factors concerning the user.
How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?
Usually, determining the half-life of a drug is the standard criterion for determining how long a drug stays in your system.
The half-life of a drug is the duration it takes to reduce to 50 percent of its concentrated dose. A drug in your system passes through a cycle of several half-lives before disappearing from the body.
However, the half-life of a drug is not the same for all users.
On average, the half-life of heroin is only a few minutes. In less than 10 minutes, heroin entirely breaks down into its metabolites; two significant metabolites of heroin are morphine and 6-diacetylmorphine.
Of these two chief metabolites of heroin, 6-diacetylmorphine stays in your system for less than 2 hours. A potentially active morphine form will remain in your system for up to 12 hours.
Morphine has an average half-life of two to four hours. The half-life of a drug will fluctuate from person to person. It is because everyone metabolizes heroin and other drugs differently.
Here is the average time. Morphine, the main metabolite of heroin, is detectable in different systems of your body. According to a report published by American Addiction Centers, morphine can be detected in the:
- Blood: up to 12 hours after the last dose
- Saliva: up to four days after the last dose
- Urine: up to three days after the last dose
- Hair: up to 90 days after the last dose
Several factors exclusively concern the individual user of heroin that influence the effects and elimination of this drug. Here are some of the factors:
- Body fat content
- Duration of using heroin
- Health of the liver and kidneys
- Other opioids used before
- Amount of heroin used
- Consumption of alcohol
- Smoking weeds
- Hydration levels of the body
- Medication in use
The effects of morphine from heroin increase if you consume alcohol. If you use alcohol, it will take longer for the metabolites of heroin to clear off your body.
Also, using heroin and alcohol simultaneously can cause dangerous and fatal side effects.
Similarly, morphine and 6-diacetylmorphine from heroin may interact with some of the other medications you use. They include:
- Opioid-based drugs like methadone and oxycodone (Oxycontin)
- Central nerve system depressants like Valium and Xanax
- Antidepressant medications
- P-glycoprotein (p-GP) inhibitors
Like every other opioid drug, heroin can cause fatal overdose issues.
Taking a large amount of heroin at short intervals may lead to an overdose. Similarly, even a small dose of heroin can produce overdose effects in someone who has little or no tolerance for opioids.
Most cases of heroin overdose result from using heroin and alcohol or other opioid drugs. It can also result from a cross-interaction with other medications used by a heroin user.
Prominent symptoms of a heroin overdose are a low heart rate, dull brain activity, and a low reparatory rate. An extreme overdose of heroin can cause a person to stop breathing and die.
Heroin overdose affects several different body parts and systems. Feelings of brain fog and drowsiness can linger for several hours. Some of these effects are more obvious than others. Common symptoms of an overdose are:
- Weak pulse
- Bluish nails or lips
- Reduced breathing frequency
- Pinpoint pupils
- Delirium or disorientation
- Severe drowsiness
- Dry mouth
- Low blood pressure
- Spasms in the intestine or stomach
- Recurrent loss of consciousness
A range of different heroin addiction treatment options is available at deaddiction rehab and detox centers.
The Final Thought
Heroin lasts in your system for only a few minutes. However, the metabolites of heroin stay in your system for a few more days.
On average, heroin metabolites stay in the urine for up to 4 days after the last use. Morphine from heroin stays in your blood and saliva for up to 12 hours.
Hair tests can show inactive morphine particles in hair follicles for up to 90 days.
Recommended reading list: