How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System

Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC
Reviewed by Terri Forehand RN
Drug Test

Heroin effects may last anywhere from a few minutes to hours, but the drug can stay in your system for much longer. Many people are surprised when they hear that the end of a heroin high doesn't necessary mean it's out of the body. In fact, this drug can remain in the body for much longer than many people expect it would.

Heroin in the Body

Heroin is an opiate. Opiates enter your blood stream easily and will accumulate in fat tissue. Drugs that remain in fat tissue will continue to enter the blood stream slowly over time. This is why you may feel the high from opiates longer than other drugs. However, this also means that your system holds on to the drug longer, but it doesn't always show up on drug tests.

Hair Follicles

While a urinalysis is the most popular way to test for drug use, testing hair follicles is also increasing in popularity because of its ability to detect heroin use after many months. The reason for this is that many drugs, especially heroin, will remain in the hair for up to three months, according to ExpoMed.


Generally, heroin can show up on a urine test for as little as two and half hours or as much as two days, according to MedlinePlus. However, heavy users can fail a drug urine test for as long as seven days.


Blood tests are another way to detect drug use, but it's the least reliable. Many opiates, like heroin, leave a person's blood stream within 6 hours, according to a drug treatment center.


Saliva also has a short detection time. Depending on how the drug was consumed, it can be detectable for as little as an hour or for as long as 24 hours. It takes longer for it to be undetectable when the person has been using heroin for a while, and has taken a large dose.

Factors that Affect the Duration of Drugs in Your Body

The above lengths of time that it takes for heroin to leave a person's body are averages. Every individual is different and certain factors influence how long the drug stays in the body:

  • Height
  • Weight
  • Metabolism
  • Amount of consumption
  • Quality of drug

Speeding Up the Body's Processing of Heroin

While there is no fail-safe way to ensure that any drug gets out of your system quickly, there are plenty of theories about how to speed the process up. If you're trying to speed up your body's processing of heroin, consider the following theories.

Drink Water

Water will flush your system out, according to Beverly Potter and Sebastian Orfali. The idea is that since heroine is water soluble, the water will soak up the drug and you will eliminate it quicker through your urine.


Potter and Orfali also suggest exercise. Exercising helps speed up your metabolism, which helps detoxification. It also burns fat, which is holding some of the drugs. You should do aerobic exercise twice a day for at least 30 minutes a day.


To completely rid your body of heroin after being dependent on it, you'll likely need detox. There are many withdrawal effects that could make you very ill. It's important to seek medical supervision while detoxing from heroin, in case of any complications during the process.

Get Help

There is help for those who struggle with heroin and other drugs. Reach out for help within your own community or contact the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Hopeline at (800) 622-2255.

How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System