Heroin is one of the fastest-acting drugs, offering almost instant pain relief and euphoric feelings. However, the consequences are drastic and could last a lifetime.

How long does heroin stay in the body?

According to the American Addictions Centers, heroin has a half-life of only 30 minutes, meaning that half of the substance consumed has already taken effect and left the body after 30 minutes.

Heroin offers a quick high, bringing prompt relief from emotional or physical pain. Although the substance takes effect quickly, it doesn’t always leave with the same speed. Heroin can be detected in the body for up to three months, sometimes even longer.

Blood: heroin can be detected in blood a few hours after usage, but tests are rarely conducted on blood because heroin leaves the system so quickly. However, some blood tests reveal traces of heroin after two days.

Saliva: the presence of heroin in the saliva is similar to blood- detectable within hours but gone speedily.

Urine: heroin can be detected in urine about five to six hours after the usage for up to two days.

Hair follicle: hair follicle tests can identify heroin up to three months after the last usage. Newer tests can detect heroin even longer.

How does heroin affect the body?

Numerous factors contribute to how long heroin stays in the body. Like any substance, the impact is influenced by a person’s age, weight, metabolism, hydration, genetics, the volume of substance consumed and whether the heroin was cut with another substance.

The effects of heroin on the body are subject to a person’s health, too. A well-functioning liver and kidneys will handle the substance differently than a chronic user’s.

How long heroin stays in the body also depends on how long someone has been impacted by a heroin addiction. Chronic users have larger amounts of heroin in their body and some of it is stored in the body’s fatty tissues, meaning it can be detected a long time after the last usage according to the American Addiction Centers

What are the short-term effects of heroin?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the good and bad short-term effects of heroin include the following.

  • Pain relief
  • Pleasurable feeling
  • Dry mouth
  • Heaviness in the arms and legs
  • Itchiness
  • “Brain fog” and difficulty concentrating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Shifting in and out of consciousness

What are the long-term effects of heroin?

Legal costs: According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, heroin is classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning that it has no identified medical or legal use in the U.S, and has a high potential for abuse. Heroin use could result in jail time, legal fees, a revoked license and more.

Physical and medical issues: Heroin is an illegal substance for good reason. Heroin use can cause insomnia, collapsed veins, heart infections, abscesses, indigestion, cramps, constipation, liver and kidney disease, mental health disorders, sexual dysfunction and irregular menstrual cycles as stated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The effects increase the more heavily the substance is used, and many of these conditions could escalate and become life-threatening.

Damage to relationships: No one knows better than someone who uses heroin that drug abuse causes catastrophic harm to family and friends. To continuously obtain heroin, users often burn bridges in relationships. 

Whether it’s borrowing money they can’t pay back or missing commitments to get high, heroin can quickly cause friction between loved ones. Opioids and opioid withdrawal can cause irritability and frustration, too. Additionally, the need for treatment can bring up hostility in relationships.

Costs to society: Heroin is one of several opioids, all of which can have severe consequences when misused. The high rate of abuse and overdose has led the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to declare the problem to be an epidemic. An article published in Medical Care estimates that the total cost of the opioid crisis exceeds 78$ billion a year in healthcare, lost productivity, treatment and criminal justice costs.

According to the Heroin Research Report, heroin is also responsible for increased crime, violence and dysfunction in families, workplaces and schools and has contributed to the spread of HIV and AIDs. Moreover, a study published in Pediatrics found that a baby is born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (addicted to opioids) every 15 minutes. 

Overdose: Overdose is a very real and permanent side effect of heroin usage. A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics found that over 14,000 people suffered heroin-related deaths in 2019.

Heroin is highly addictive, meaning that greater and greater doses are required to reach the same high. A single use is enough to become addicted so the best way to avoid an overdose is to get treatment immediately.

Get started with recovery

There’s no denying that the short and long-term effects of heroin are devastating. Though heroin may only be detectable for days or months after the last use, heroin’s impact could stick around for a lifetime.

Despite the strong effects of heroin on the body, there is hope for recovery. At October Road you can find trauma-informed treatment programs catered to your needs. Call now to get started and regain your freedom, 888-201-5086.


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