Heroin is an opiate drug made from morphine. It is not legally available by prescription in the United States, although it is available on a limited basis in Canada, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom to treat heroin addiction.
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Using heroin brings a high risk of overdose and dangerous interactions with other drugs and prescribed medications.
Knowing how long it could be active in your system can help you understand the risks and variables.
Heroin is classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning that it’s a drug with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for misuse.
Because heroin is so fast-acting and has such a short half-life, it can sometimes be difficult to detect in standard drug screenings.
The effects of the drug last for about 30 minutes, but the metabolites produced as the drug is broken down are detectable on standard drug screening tests for around one to four days.
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How Long Does Heroin Stay In Your System?
Blood: Up to six hours
Urine: Up to three days
Saliva: Up to 24 hours
Hair: Up to 90 days
How Long Does It Take To Feel Effects?
Heroin sold on the street is manufactured illegally and differs widely in strength, purity, and what other substances it is mixed with.
People who take heroin recreationally use it in many different ways, each of which can affect how soon and how long its effects are felt. Heroin can be smoked, injected, or snorted.
The effects of heroin are felt swiftly. Depending on the dose, a wave of intense euphoria lasts 45 seconds to a few minutes, with the other effects peaking for one to two hours and most effects wearing off in three to five hours, although sedation can last longer.
Common effects are a surge of euphoria followed by a drowsy twilight state alternating between wake and sleep.
Physical effects include constricted pupils, feelings of nausea, flushed skin, and dry mouth, and a feeling of having heavy hands and feet.
How Long Does Heroin Last?
Heroin has an extremely rapid half-life of two to six minutes and is metabolized to 6-acetyl morphine and morphine.
The half-life of morphine is one and a half to seven hours and the half-life of 6-acetyl morphine is just six to 25 minutes.
It takes four to five half-lives for a drug to be effectively eliminated from the system.
Heroin and 6-acetyl morphine enter the brain more readily than morphine.
In the brain and nervous system, these substances act on receptors involved with euphoria, pain suppression, depressing breathing, drowsiness, dysphoria, and rarely delusions and hallucinations.
Urine tests are the most frequently used type of drug screening because they are less costly and easy to administer.
Heroin can be detected on a standard urine test for between one to four days after the last use.
Research has also shown that the 6-AM assay test, originally developed as a urine test, is sensitive enough to detect heroin metabolites in blood.
Such tests may be useful for following traffic accidents or overdoses to distinguish between recent heroin use and the therapeutic intake of opioids for pain relief.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that high levels of the heroin metabolite 6-acetyl morphine can be detected in saliva samples.
Such tests may be a better indicator of heroin use than urine screens in some situations. However, such tests must be administered fairly quickly after the last use in order to be effective.
Heroin can be detected by hair follicle tests for up to 90 days after use.6 People who have been using heroin for longer periods of time may have much longer hair detection windows, however.
False Positive Testing
Eating foods containing poppy seeds such as muffins or bagels can lead to a false-positive result for opiates on a drug test.
Poppy seeds contain trace amounts of morphine and codeine. While most of this is removed during processing, the tiny amount of opiate residue left is enough to trigger a false-positive result on many drug tests.
Consuming poppy seeds may lead to a positive test result within two hours of consumption and are detectable in urine for as long as 60 hours, depending on the amount ingested.
Certain medications, including quinolones, rifampin, and diphenhydramine, can also trigger false-positive results for opiates on enzyme-mediated immunoassays (EIAs).
Because these tests have good sensitivity and lower costs, they are often used in employment and medical drug screenings.
Such tests are, however, more prone to false positives, requiring confirmation testing.
Try to avoid food or medications that are known to trigger positive test results and inform the lab about any medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, that you are currently taking.
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