How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?

Heroin is a highly addictive opioid drug. Though illegal in the United States, opioid misuse has led to a ​national crisis, which has had devastating effects on those who abuse heroin and society at large.

When heroin is abused, overdose is common, and the ripple effects on friends, family members, and communities are significant. For example, heroin abuse can cause relationships to break down, account for crime, and increase hospital admissions. It can also destroy families and have a detrimental impact on children.

When answering the question, “how long does heroin stay in your system?” it is crucial to remember that this depends on the amount taken and the frequency the drug is taken. However, drug screening is an effective way to determine whether someone has misused heroin.

Fortunately, addiction treatment options are available for those struggling with drug abuse. Substance use disorder is a treatable disease, and with the right help and treatment, anyone can overcome their struggles with heroin. Treatment can also prevent addictions from arising.

What Is Heroin?

Heroin is a dangerous, illegal drug that belongs to the opioid family. It is made from morphine, a natural substance extracted from the seed of poppy plants, which grow in parts of Asia, Mexico, and Colombia.

Heroin is known as a semi-synthetic opioid because it is derived from morphine before being processed chemically. Due to its highly addictive nature and potential for misuse, it is not used in medicine.

Opioids work in the body’s central nervous system by providing pain relief and enhancing feelings of pleasure. Like other drugs in this group, heroin can cause the user to experience a euphoric rush and a detachment from emotional and physical pain. A feeling of bliss and tranquility follows this.

In its pure form, heroin is a fine, white powder. If other substances are mixed into it, street heroin can also be brown and grainy. It can also be a dark brown sticky, tar-like substance.

What Is Heroin Addiction?

Heroin addiction is characterized by an inability to stop using heroin despite its negative health consequences. It is easy to develop a tolerance to heroin, meaning that larger doses are needed to achieve the desired effect.

If someone has a heroin addiction, they will experience withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop taking it. The severity of withdrawal symptoms will depend on how long heroin has been abused.

Why Is Heroin Dangerous?

Repeated heroin use causes changes to both the physical structure and physiology of the brain. These changes enable a dependency to develop quickly. With repeated use, those who use heroin will be at risk of developing a heroin use disorder, which is a chronic disease. Heroin use disorders destroy lives because the main priority of those suffering is acquiring and using heroin, whatever the consequences.

Due to its addictiveness, severe risks of overdose and death accompany heroin use. It is also frequently cut with blood vessel clogging additives, leading to permanent damage of many vital organs, including the brain, lungs, kidneys, and liver. Decision-making, stress responses, and behavior control can all be impacted by heroin use.

Heroin is commonly injected into the veins, putting users at greater risk of contracting diseases like HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C due to using needles. It also increases the threat of blood poisoning, collapsed veins, and skin infections, especially if needles are shared.

Is It Easy To Detect Heroin?

To detect heroin, it has to be present in a user’s system in some way. So, how long does heroin stay in your system? To answer this, we need to consider its half-life.

Half-life refers to the time it takes for half of the drug to be flushed out of the body. Heroin can be challenging to detect in a person’s system because it has a particularly short half-life of approximately three minutes. It takes roughly five half-lives for the body to rid itself of a drug entirely.

Inside the body, heroin is quickly broken down by the liver into other substances known as metabolites. These metabolites linger in the body for much longer than heroin itself, making it easier to detect the drug in drug tests. For example, heroin metabolites such as 6-acetyl morphine (6-AM) and morphine will often be observed in tests, enabling those conducting them to distinguish the use of heroin over other drugs or opioids.

Drug Tests for Heroin and the Length It Stays in Your System

Below, we have shared a number of standard drug tests. However, it should be noted that blood and saliva tests aren’t as frequently used in detecting traces of heroin due to the short half-lives of the drug and its metabolites.

Blood Tests

As heroin is only detectable for up to six hours after consumption, it is not common for blood tests to be used when conducting drug tests.

Saliva Tests

Evidence of heroin use can be detected for up to one hour in a saliva test. Therefore, they have to be administered very quickly to be effective.

Urine Tests

Due to their cost-effectiveness and the fact that they are simple to do, urine tests are very common. A urine test can detect heroin in a user’s urine for up to three days. A urine test can also detect heroin metabolites.

Hair Follicle Tests

During a hair follicle test, a small amount of hair is taken from the scalp. In general, heroin can be detected in a hair follicle test for up to three months after consumption. However, some factors can interfere with hair follicle tests. For example, the windows for detection might be longer in those who have been using heroin for a while.

False-Positive Results

Drug testing for heroin can detect morphine in foods containing poppy seeds, such as muffins, seeded bread, or bagels. If a person eats any of these foods before a drug test, they may produce a false-positive result.

Certain medications can also produce false-positive results. For this reason, anyone being tested for drugs will need to inform the testing laboratory of any medications taken.

What Can Affect How Long Heroin Stays in Your System?

How long heroin stays in an individual’s system can be affected by a range of different factors. These include:

  • Length of addiction
  • Frequency of use
  • Liver problems
  • Drug interactions
  • Weight and body mass
  • Individual metabolism

What Are the Heroin Addiction Treatment Options?

Seeking addiction treatment takes strength and courage, so well done for beginning this journey. Luckily, there are a wide variety of American addiction centers to choose from to suit each person’s addiction recovery needs.

Many people wishing to detox from opioid drugs will attend a rehab treatment center to secure the best support available, avoid relapse, and have a safe experience. Medical assistance, including professional medical advice, is available at treatment facilities to ensure the process is completed safely and carefully.

The treatment process involves a combination of behavioral interventions, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and medications to ease unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. As heroin withdrawal symptoms can be very uncomfortable, many people are susceptible to relapse at this time. This is why professional treatment programs are important.

After detox, it is vital to continue to treat any underlying mental health conditions and psychological addiction. This can be done by attending support groups, therapy, counseling, and lifestyle interventions.

Heroin addiction can be terrifying. Many people will feel like they have lost all control and are stuck in a vicious cycle of substance abuse. However, treatment options are available, and beginning this journey to overcome addiction is rewarding.

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Samantha Kelly​

Director of National Business Development & Admissions Coordinator

I am a dedicated and passionate professional with extensive experience in business development Admissions and marketing. I have an incredible passion for showing others that there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel if someone truly wants it.
Being in recovery myself I understand the struggles of addiction and alcoholism. I Started this Career path in 2009. With multiple years of experience, I bring a multi-faceted approach and am always seeking new ways to make a difference in the lives of those I work with.

Kim L. Buckner

Facilitator

As a Substance Abuse Motivational Speaker, Pastor, Peer Advocate, and Facilitator. Kim helps clients avoid relapse by understanding their triggers. Those people, places and things that can cause craving, as well as internal triggers like feelings, thoughts, or emotions. Kim also clients with identifying and building healthy relationships now that they’re clean and sober.

Kim’s background includes extensive experience as a motivational speaker and work in faith-based organizations helping youth and adults alike. He says he is motivated by giving back to the community, understanding, and not judging who she comes into contact with. Kim’s favorite quote is by Dr. Raymond Johnson: “The respect given to others rebounds to the giver to deny the scared in the Other is to deny it in oneself.”

Caty Burns

Clinician

Caty graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minors in Counseling and History. Throughout her undergrad, she worked at the local CASA program, supporting volunteers advocating for children who had experienced abuse and neglect. Caty worked for seven years at a community mental health center (CMHC), partnering with children, adults, and families.

During those seven years, she taught life and coping skills as well as behavior management, provided case management and peer recovery services, and facilitated treatment teams that included the client, family, providers, and community members. I have also worked at an IOP providing group therapy services. She is currently working towards my Master of Social Work.

In her free time, Caty enjoys reading, especially historical fiction, spending time outdoors and having movie nights with her family. Disney World is her happy place, and she dreams of living among the elephants.

Madison Knowles

Mental Health Therapist

My name is Madison Knowles, I am a Mental health therapist at NPAC. I am a single-mother of two and I have a daughter who is globally delayed and has been diagnosed with autism. I have been in this industry since I was 16 years old, as I was fascinated with human behavior. I obtained my masters in applied behavioral analysis and started off working with people with disabilities. I then found my love for counseling when I worked with juveniles who had mental health and substance use issues. I then decided to go back for my mental health therapy license after that and working in a forensic treatment center. I went on to obtain my therapy credentials and since 2017, I have also been working on my PhD in forensic psychology in which I am currently working on my dissertation. I am inspired by change and how resilient people can be. My favorite inspirational quote is “Some will, Some won’t, So what, NEXT!!!” This quote has inspired me to try, try, and try again no matter how hard life gets, someone will give you a chance eventually. As a therapist at NPAC, I have been given the opportunity to work with diverse populations such as in substance use and mental health and I am known for my work with people on the schizophrenic spectrum as well as with other clients with other severe conditions including personality disorders.

Megan Carmona, LMHC

Lead Therapist

Our Lead Therapist, Megan, is a bilingual Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in working with adults who struggle with addiction, anxiety, depression, and trauma. As Lead Therapist, she provides individual, family, and group therapy sessions to our clients.  Megan says “I am very passionate about therapy, especially about supporting my clients in exploring their strengths and identity. My goal is to provide individuals with the tools that can help them achieve independence in coping with their challenges and facilitating personal development.” In her free time, Megan enjoys watching docu-series and playing video games with her family. Her dream is to own acres of land so she can care for vulnerable animals, especially old dogs, cats, and horses. 

Kristen Bensley

Primary Clinician

As Primary Clinician, Kristen works with all aspects of our clinical team, from case management to primary therapy.  She has broad experience working in the mental health field. Prior to joining our team at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic, Kristen was part of the team awarded the Evernorth Behavioral Health Center of Excellence Designation by Cigna. She says her motivation is to help people rediscover who they are and become excited about the future and all the possibilities life offers. Kristen’s favorite quote is: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Ronn Daigle, MSW

Therapist, Utilization Review Clinician

Ronn Daigle services as a Therapist and Utilization Review Clinician at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has been working in the field of substance use disorder treatment since 2011, with experience in all facility-based levels of care. Ronn earned, both an Associate of Arts in Psychology (2013) and Bachelor of Science in Human Services, with an Addiction Studies Concentration (2015) from Indian River State College. 

Ronn additionally earned a Master of Social Work degree in 2021 and is a current Registered Clinical Social Work Intern working toward licensure (LCSW). He describes himself as detail oriented, and solution focused.

Ronn says: “There is nothing more fulfilling than working with someone who doesn’t believe in himself or herself, and being there in the moment with them when the belief begins. We work with individuals who come to us at a point and time in their respective lives where they do not believe that change for others is possible; let alone for themselves…throughout the process they eventually come to a point where they realize that change is not only possible, but achievable.”

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI

Assistant Clinical Director

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI is the Assistant Clinical Director at Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic who specializes in the treatment of LGBTQ, addiction, as well as mental health disorders ranging from depression and anxiety, to Bipolar Disorder, trauma, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and eating disorders. Erika utilizes a number of modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Mindfulness amongst others. Erika has been in practice for close to a decade and has earned her license in Mental Health Counseling, as well as being a Master’s Certified Addiction Professional. Erika has worked with many individuals including couples counseling and family therapy, and is fluent in Spanish.
 
Throughout my years of practice, one of the things I enjoy helping people find is inner peace. Whether you are in the deepest parts of depression, overrun by your anxiety, controlled by your addiction, or there are certain issues in your life that are negatively impacting your ability to function, and have a happy, healthy life, maybe now is the time to talk about it. I am a big believer in empowerment, working hard in therapy, and utilizing different techniques to help you regain that inner peace that may have been lost along the way. I want to work with you as a team because with two people, absolutely everything is possible. I want to be there as a therapist, to help build you up, support you, but also help you be honest with yourself and accountable. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, my biggest goal for you is going to be simple….for you to no longer need my services. Why? Because if you no longer need my services, it means that you have regained your peace, you have regained your strength, you have regained your confidence. It means that you now have the tools to address any issues that try to derail you, and best of all, you will have the insight to overcome and thrive. So let’s begin this journey together, and get you to the place you want to be, emotionally, mentally, psychologically, and in your sobriety.

Aurelio Ayuso, MSW, LCSW, CAP, ICADC

Clinical Director

Aurelio has worked with those that suffer from the disease of addiction in adults and juveniles alike for over 10 years, beginning in the United States Navy where he proudly served for 20 years, working with those that were succumbed by addiction due to trauma and continuing his passion for helping those in need locally in Central Florida.

He specializes in both Addictions and Trauma, he has worked first as a therapist then as the clinical supervisor to both the Juvenile and Adult Drug Court programs in Brevard County. Aurelio has been instrumental in developing substance abuse treatment programs directly tailored to help those that also suffer from complex trauma due to their addiction. He has been recognized by several organizations for his forward thinking and ability to tailor treatment to individuals in the most restrictive environments.

Mr. Ayuso received his Graduate Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker as well as Certified Addictions Professional in the State of Florida, and Internationally Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor. Aurelio specializes in the treatment of Addiction, Trauma, and Abandonment using strength based strategies deeply rooted in Solution Focused, and Mindfulness Therapies. At the Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic he passionately develops holistic curriculums that foster the belief that through addressing the mind, body, and spirit together, the Disease of Addiction can be addressed successfully.

Robert Lehmann, MHSA

Chief Operating Officer

Bob Lehmann is the Chief Operating Officer at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has a Master’s Degree in Human Services Administration with a concentration in Mental Health Administration and over twenty-five years of experience as a senior executive at addiction and mental health treatment facilities.

One of the reasons for his commitment to excellence in addiction treatment was his experience related to family members who suffered from the disease of addiction. Bob has been actively involved in community organizations throughout his career. Recently he was one of the founders of the Florida Addiction Treatment Coalition (FATC) and is its present Vice President. FATC was designed to bring together treatment executives in Florida to advocate on behalf of treatment facilities and the clients they serve adhering to a foundation of integrity and service excellence.

Jose R. Toledo, M.D.

Medical Director

A well-rounded and accomplished individual, Jose R. Toledo, M.D., is the Medical Director of Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a neurologist with 25 years of experience and has been in private practice since 1991 on the Treasure Coast of Florida. He completed his neurology training at the State University of New York and his Fellowship training at the University of Pittsburgh in Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology.

He also completed 24 months of acute inpatient psychiatry at the Western Missouri Mental Health Center, University of Missouri in Kansas City. In 2008, Dr. Toledo participated in and was certified in the continuing medical education activity entitled “Buprenorphine and Office-Based Treatment of Opioid Dependence” from The Medical University of South Carolina during which began his quest to found and head Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a brain specialist with particular competence in addiction medicine and out-patient detoxification treatment and integrates the fields seamlessly. He is certified to prescribe Buprenorphine (Suboxone). He incorporates his background in neurology into the addiction field. Dr. Toledo is member/fellow of The American Medical Association, The Florida Medical Association and The American Society of Addiction Medicine