How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System??

This article discusses how long does heroin stay in your system for a drug test.

  • It is a recreational drug as opposed to a drug used for medicinal purposes.
  • This drug is an illegal drug derived from morphine.
  • It does fall under a class of drugs called opioids and is a schedule I drug.
  • Various forms of heroin exist.
  • Most people are familiar with the white powder form of heroin, but brown, black, and black tar forms are also available.

Black tar heroin is modified, usually because extra acid or water is in the sample. Unlike other types of opioids, it is not used medicinally but strictly as a recreational drug.


  • The half-life refers to how long it takes for half of the drug to exit the body.
  • For a medication to leave the body, it takes multiple half-lives.
  • Unlike other drugs in the opioid family, heroin has a half-life of around 3 minutes, much shorter than other opioid drugs.
  • This drug has an amazingly short half-life (about 3 minutes). So, for most people, the drug itself is eliminated from the human body very quickly.

In general, most of this drug is cleared by 8 to 9 hours after the last dose.


The problem with passing a heroin drug test is usually not the drug itself. Instead, it is the telltale metabolites the body uses to metabolize it. Drug tests often look for these molecular substances rather than heroin. The most common heroin metabolite is known as 6-AM (6-Acetylmorphine). It converts heroin to morphine, also an opiate. Most drug tests look for opiates. Therefore these types of tests will come back positive for opioids.

  • However, metabolites of heroin can be detectable in the blood for up to 12 hours.
  • In urine, for at least 2 to 3 days after taking the drug.
  • Heroin lingers longest in the hair follicle. With hair follicle testing, traces of heroin can come up for up to 3 months after exposure.
  • Specific heroin metabolites, such as “6-AM“, may be detectable for 24 hours or more.

Other Factors

In addition, certain factors can delay or speed up the clearance of heroin from blood and urine. Heroin is cut with a variety of substances. These substances include sugar, caffeine, starch, baking soda, talcum powder, powdered pain meds, and, scarily enough, rat poison. What is added to heroin can affect its impact on the body and how quickly it exits it. How potent the heroin is and how much a person takes also impacts how long it remains in the body.

  • The rate of clearance of heroin from the body varies with the purity of the drug.

Age is another factor that can affect heroin clearance. Younger people usually have a faster metabolism than older individuals, and they’ll typically clear the drug more quickly. Genetics is also a factor. Some people have higher or lower levels of enzymes that break heroin down, which can speed or slow down its breakdown and elimination from the body.

Factors like height and weight can affect the time heroin remains in the body. For example, a smaller, shorter individual is likely to retain it in their system slightly longer than a more prominent individual or someone overweight or obese.

Kidney and liver function also have a modest impact on heroin clearance. These are the organs that bear most of the burden of metabolizing and eliminating drugs, including heroin. One study found that impaired liver function due to liver disease had minimal effects on the clearance of heroin. However, reduced kidney function slightly delayed heroin clearance from the body.

The mode by which a person consumes heroin modestly impacts its clearance as well. Snorting it leaves behind fewer detectable breakdown products than smoking or injecting it. However, the metabolites created by smoking hang around in the body slightly more extended than after injection, so how someone uses it affects its clearance time.

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