How Long Does Heroin Stay in Blood, Urine, Hair

How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?

One of the most dangerous drugs at the center of the opioid crisis, heroin is largely considered the final link in a chain of progressively more addictive substances. While opiate users may start with prescriptions like Oxycontin or Vicodin, many eventually progress to heroin.

In fact, as of 2016, nearly 950,000 Americans admitted to having used heroin within the past year. That same year, 170,000 people used heroin for the first time, underscoring the rapid growth in popularity of this drug.

All of that said, it’s clear that heroin use poses a threat to users’ ability to obtain employment, as most employers only make job offers contingent upon a clear drug screening. This fact makes it difficult for habitual users to find any sort of meaningful work long term.

What’s more, someone who has already been in trouble with the law and must take regular drug tests as part of their proceedings cannot afford to test positive for heroin; the same is true for someone who is arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence.

No matter the reason for the drug screening, a user’s risk for testing positive depends largely on the type of test conducted.

Heroin’s Length of Stay in The Body

Employers and agents of the law are likely to use one of three types of drug screens: a urine test, a blood test, or a hair test. Each of these substances holds on to heroin for a different length of time, meaning that different testing methods have different implications for users.

Heroin in Urine

The most commonly used type of drug test for employment purposes, a urine test is the least expensive to carry out. Generally speaking, heroin will remain detectable in a user’s urine for about 3 days, though it can be as short as 1 day or as long as 4 days. Many different factors impact the actual timeline, but the 3-day mark is typically how long the drug can be detected.

Heroin in Blood

If someone is involved in a traffic accident or is stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence, it’s likely that a blood test will be used to ascertain whether they were intoxicated with some substance at the time of the arrest. Heroin will only be detectable in blood for about 6 hours because it is metabolized so quickly.

Heroin in Hair

The bain of every chronic user’s existence is a hair drug screening. This is because hair keeps a detailed, long-term record of the substances that a person ingests. That means that a hair drug test may detect heroin for up to 3 months after it is used.
Of course, there’s no possible way to explain away the presence of heroin in a drug screening on the part of the user, but there are some situations where heroin might parade as a legal (though still highly addictive) substance.

In addition to physical cravings, someone with an addiction issue will also spend a tremendous amount of time thinking about their drug of choice. These thoughts become a compulsion and impossible to control, which leads to drug-seeking behavior that can sometimes be criminal.

Feelings of depression, sadness, anxiety, despair, and the like are often at the root of substance abuse. The substance might temporarily mask these feelings, but they return once the high wears off, creating a vicious circle of drug abuse.

Taking a substance will temporarily stop the cravings and compulsion for it, but soon the same feelings return. In time, it takes more and more of the same substance to achieve the same effect it once had.

People addicted to drugs and alcohol may feel like they have no control over their drug use. Refraining from using or stopping seems to be an impossibility for them. The substance controls them, rather than the other way around.

Someone addicted to drugs or alcohol will continue to seek them out even if their addiction has made them lose friends, family, spouses, and jobs. Drug-seeking behavior can even lead to diseases such as hepatitis and HIV/AIDS.

Differentiating Between Heroin and Prescription Opioids in Tests

Opioids like morphine and codeine are incredibly commonly used in medicine, despite the fact that they hold highly addictive properties. Heroin has an important commonality with these legal substances: they are all derived from the opium poppy.

This means that if a person who has used heroin is screened for the drug toward the end of its detectable cycle, it may have already been metabolized in the same way that prescription opioids would be, which can muddy the waters in terms of detection. This isn’t hard to believe given the fact that all of these substances share a common ancestor.

For instance, heroin is broken down into morphine, and then further broken down into hydromorphone. A person who has been legally administered morphine or codeine will show those same alkaloids once those drugs have broken down. While this sort of situation is theoretically possible, it’s rarely an issue.

What’s more, any possible confusion can be easily cleared up when the subject is unable to provide a prescription or medical documentation stating that they have these alkaloids in their system for legitimate reasons. Often, a person will simply test positive for opiates, at which point a more comprehensive screening is completed.

Basically, a heroin user will face incredible difficulty explaining the presence of heroin in their drug screening, even if they do have a prescription for another opioid, because heroin is often detected in its original form rather than one of its alkaloids.

What’s more, studies show that couples who engage in these treatments together as opposed to attending a program alone have much higher rates of success, in terms of recovery. This all speaks to a new attitude toward addiction when it comes to a codependent addicted pair, and it might just help a greater proportion of couples maintain their sobriety jointly. 

If you are considering treatment for yourself or a loved one, call us today.

Seeking Help Before It’s Too Late

There’s no doubt about it; heroin is the kind of drug that ensnares users in an impossible grip of dependency.

Many people addicted to heroin simply feel helpless to their addiction and believe that their lives will always be governed by the drug. This leads many users to believe they cannot help but use heroin even when they know they may receive a drug test.

That’s simply not true, though. Even the most entrenched addicts can find their way back to a healthy lifestyle with the right treatment program. Different forms of therapy will be effective for different people, but the important part is to step away from the drug and seek help.

Heroin may not linger in the system as long as some drugs, but it’s not a question of “if” a chronic user will eventually screen positive for the drug, it’s a question of “when.” Whether this will happen during the process of seeking employment or as part of criminal proceedings is hard to know, but in either case, the user will face serious repercussions.

Life doesn’t have to be ruled by addiction. Users don’t have to spend the rest of their days in fear that their habit will be discovered. Effective and confidential help is available—contact Nexus Recovery today and set out on a path to sobriety.

If you or a loved one are suffering from alcohol or drug addiction, we’re here to help. Contact us today and speak with one of our trusted recovery advisors.

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