Opiate Addiction: How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?

The rush from heroin is what draws people in and causes them to continue using the drug until they are addicted. That short period of intense euphoria may only last a few minutes, and the hazy, world-without-worry feeling that follows may only last from two to five hours, but it’s enough. Enough to risk going through at least three days of intense withdrawal symptoms, followed by weeks of challenging cravings, to experience that bliss.

If you or someone you know is suffering from a heroin addiction, please contact us today to find how you can help, and start a path to recovery.

How Long Do the Effects of Heroin Last?

Opiates like heroin enter the bloodstream almost immediately. Within 20 seconds or less of injecting heroin, it causes that rush. When smoked, the rush happens just as quickly, but is less intense. Even snorting, though also less intense than injecting heroin, affects the user within two minutes. With all forms of use, the effects peak at approximately two hours, and wear off after about five.

Heroin is a street drug, and purity levels are inconsistent. It might be cut with inert substances such as starch, sugar, or powdered milk. It may also be mixed with other drugs such as cocaine, ketamine, methamphetamine, Fentanyl, or a host of others. All of these factors, including purity, dosage, and other variables such as a user’s age, weight, form of ingestion, body metabolism, and level of chronic use will affect the drug’s intensity and length of the high. Many users describe that first heroin experience as the most intense, and a high that they chase, but will never again attain. As with any drug, the more you use, the more your body becomes tolerant, so the less intense each experience is. You end up taking more and more for a smaller effect, until you are just taking it to avoid the pain of withdrawal.

How Long Does It Take to Detox from Heroin?

Detoxification is the only way to rid your system completely of heroin. Because heroin accumulates in fatty tissue, it can take up to a week, or in some cases longer, to fully rid your body of the drug, and during that time, heroin can often still be found in urinalysis. There are so many variables in how the drug affects people, especially chronic, long-term users, that it is difficult to predict how long you will feel symptoms of withdrawal.

Every addict’s experience with detoxification is different. Chronic users can start to feel withdrawal symptoms anywhere from six to twelve hours after their last dose. There is a range of symptoms one may experience: sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, irritability, runny nose, chills and goosebumps, cramps, muscle and bone pain, tremors, and elevated blood pressure and heart rate. Those going through withdrawal can experience insomnia, depression, anxiety, confusion, intense cravings for heroin and other feelings as the drug leaves their system.

Many continue using to avoid these negative effects, but addicts must look beyond the withdrawal symptoms. They must look to the future—which may seem like forever, but the worst of these symptoms usually resolve in approximately three days. Look forward to the days ahead where your body is free of a substance that has been imprisoning you for so long. There are long-term effects from heroin that you can’t forget, and the craving for heroin doesn’t go away. You will always be an addict, but you can be an addict in recovery.

Medically Supervised Detoxification and Recovery

A medically supervised detox is the safest and kindest way to take that step towards recovery. When you choose to start your healing journey in a drug treatment facility which offers safe and supervised detoxification, the caring staff will ensure that you have privacy and are kept as comfortable as possible, with medications that relieve pain and manage stress. They will help you through any medical complications that may occur during those first few days of withdrawal and the emotional pain of detox, and see you to the next step in this journey. Once heroin is gone from your system, you can begin to focus on your rehabilitation and recovery. There is a life ahead, where pain isn’t masked, and hope is possible.

We invite you to contact us at any time to learn more about heroin or other opiate addictions, the detoxification process, and how to start the journey to recovery.