Heroin is a highly addictive illegal opioid that is derived from morphine. Heroin is made from morphine which is a natural substance that is derived from various opium poppy plants that are commonly grown in Southeast and Southwest Asia, Colombia, and Mexico. Heroin is synthesized from morphine by acetylation of both 3 and 6 positions and metabolized in the human body to active opioid compounds first by deacetylation to 6 Monoacetylmorphine (6MAM). The substance can be found in many different forms. It can be various shades of powder ranging from white to dark brown depending on what it is cut with. It can also be seen as a black sticky and gooey substance that is known as black tar heroin. People generally snort, inject, or smoke heroin.
How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?
Heroin has a short half-life of 60 to 90 minutes, requiring people who use the substance to use it several times a day to maintain the desired effects. It is rapidly converted into 6-AM and morphine. Heroin is most commonly intravenously injected. This allows rapid entry into the central nervous system, resulting in a fast onset of euphoria and other effects. Heroin and 6-AM appear in the oral fluid within 2 minutes after a person uses the substance. The heroin half-life is about 30 to 60 minutes after heroin is smoked, concentrations in oral fluid decrease greatly. 6MAM can be eliminated in urine very fast and it is only able to be detected for less than 8 hours after a person uses heroin. While other studies mention that the heroin drug test detection time in urine is up to 48 hours.
Drug Testing for Heroin
There are a few different ways a heroin drug test can be performed. Oral fluid is a simple method that has been found to be effective in identifying heroin in users. Drugs generally appear in oral fluid through diffusion from the blood (injecting heroin) or deposited in the oral cavity from smoking, snorting, or ingesting the substance. The best way to test for heroin is through a person’s saliva. Saliva is a useful way to detect heroin in people because it is easy to collect, detects recent drug use, and difficult to adulterate since the collection is being observed by the person collecting the sample.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, recent data determined that a very high prevalence of 6-acetylmorphine (6-AM) which is a metabolite of heroin, in saliva specimens testing positive for morphine. When testing urine, 6-AM is not tested unless over 2,000 ng/ml of morphine are present. This greatly reduces the number of heroin users identified in a urine analysis. Urine is another method to test for heroin use but it is not as effective. Urine is the most widely tested specimen in drug testing. One benefit of testing drugs in urine is that urine drugs are generally highly concentrated so it gives an accurate reading. Another benefit to a urine drug test is urine can be tested and then retested by another laboratory if necessary.
Another method for detecting heroin in the body is to use a standard hair test. It takes about 5 to 7 days from the time of drug use for the portion of the hair containing the drug to grow above the scalp. A hair analysis is useful because there is a wider window of detection with a strand of a person’s hair. Heroin is generally undetectable in urine 72 hours after a person uses it. Opposed to a bodily fluid test, a hair test can detect heroin over the course of days or even months. It is 6-10 times or 85 percent more effective in identifying heroin than a urine analysis. This ensures that a person who uses the substance cannot evade the test by simply abstaining from the drug for a few days. A few other advantages of a standard hair test are it is non-intrusive, a person can’t evade the test with substitution or tampering with it, and there is greater accuracy because the test can be repeated.
Factors That Affect How Long Heroin Stays in Your Body
Drugs vary by their elimination half-lives, which is the time required for the blood levels to decline by 50 percent. Some people may be wondering, how long does heroin stay in your system? The length of time that heroin stays in a person’s body is dependent upon an individual’s age, gender, physical condition, and clinical status. For example, a person who has an unhealthy liver, a disease, or is using another drug with heroin can enhance the toxic effect heroin has on the body. This is because it slows down the elimination process. Under other clinical conditions, the process might speed up.
If you are wondering how long does heroin stay in your urine, the length of time heroin can be detected varies due to a person’s hydration levels, dosing, metabolism, body mass, urine pH, and duration of use. The more hydrated a person is the more diluted the drug and their urine will be. Conversely, a person may attempt to dehydrate themself to have more concentrated urine in order to mask the drug. Also, if a person takes a low dose of heroin the level of the drug in their urine might be too low to be detected. Finally, metabolism is unique to each person and is largely dependent on a person’s genetics, age, sex, ethnicity, liver impairment, and environmental factors. Therefore, the length of time heroin stays in a person’s body is largely dependent on each person.
Getting Help For Heroin Addiction
Overcoming heroin addiction can be painful. No one should have to go through the excruciating detoxification process on their own. Finding a high-quality rehabilitation clinic can help. At a rehabilitation facility, a person who is addicted to heroin will receive support from trained medical professionals who will provide medical treatments as well as mental health counselors who will offer behavioral therapies. They will be provided with medications to ease the pain associated with heroin withdrawal. Both behavioral therapies and medications have been found to help a person who was addicted to heroin regain normal brain function and behavior.
- Addiction Treatment Options. Sunshine Behavioral Health.
- Drug-testing methods and clinical interpretations of test results. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
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- Interpretation of Opiate Urine Drug Screens. Health Partners Institute for Medical Education.
- Interpretation of oral fluids for drugs of abuse. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.
- National Roadside Survey Pilot Test Oral Fluid and Blood Analytic Procedures. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.
Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.
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