Heroin is an incredibly fast-acting drug with a small half-life, so how long does heroin stay in your system? It tends to exit the body quickly too. That can lead to a high that only lasts from a few minutes to half an hour; the short active time combined with the intense euphoria heroin is known for is one of the reasons this drug is so addictive and so potentially dangerous.

How long does a heroin high last?

The length and intensity of a heroin high depends on a variety of factors, including:

  • The amount and type of heroin used
  • The person and their tolerance to the drug
  • The method of use (i.e., smoking, injecting or snorting)

Heroin causes your brain to release extra dopamine, which is what causes the high. The pleasant feelings last while that dopamine is still present in the brain. When heroin is smoked or injected, the high that occurs tends to last a few minutes. Snorting heroin can result in a high that lasts from 15 to 30 minutes on average.

In contrast, the feelings that occur when you come down from a heroin high tend to last much longer — for several hours in some cases. That’s just one reason heroin addiction happens so quickly and is such a battle for many people. Individuals may immediately seek more heroin to return to that high.

man thinking by window about how does long heroin stays in your system
signs that point the way out of heroin addiction

When can heroin be detected in your system?

Just because the high is over doesn’t mean all the heroin is out of your system. Plus, modern drug tests often look for by-products of drug use rather than the drug itself, and the effects of drugs in your body can last much longer than the heroin does.

Common ways to test for certain substances in a person’s system include urine, saliva, blood and hair tests. Heroin has a half-life of approximately 30 minutes — meaning it takes only half an hour for half of a dose of the drug to metabolize through your system. That means tests that look for heroin in your blood or saliva are only useful for about five hours to two days after the last dose. Urine tests are also usually unable to detect heroin after about two days.

New tests, which look for by-products of heroin processing in the kidneys or other parts of the body, may be able to detect that the drug was used up to seven days after the last dose.

Getting help for heroin addiction now

While heroin doesn’t stay in your system very long, modern tests can tell you used the drug for at least a few days after the last dose was taken. Don’t wait to get caught in a drug test by an employer, school or law enforcement agency. If you’re struggling with heroin abuse or addiction, call us today at 877-284-0353 to find out more about heroin rehabilitation and recovery.



Response in 30 MINUTES or LESS