Heroin is classified as Schedule I Substance by FDA which means it is an extremely addictive drug with no known medical use. It is among the most commonly abused drugs in United States. Because of the severe mental and physical side effects associated with heroin abuse and addiction, its treatment and rehabilitation needs to be given utmost importance. How long does heroin stay in the system? The addicts and their loved ones often tend to ask this question. Longer the drug stays in the system, greater is the damage produced by it. Having knowledge about the effects, mode of action and half life of the drug can help to understand the situation of an addict in a better way.
Table of Contents:
- 1.What is the half life for heroin?
- 2.How long does heroin stay in the body?
- 3.How is heroin metabolized and excreted by the body?
- 4.Which tests are used to detect heroin in the system?
- 5.How to remove heroin from the system faster?
What is the half life for heroin?
Half life of a drug is the time taken by the body to degrade half of the drug into its break down products. How quick a drug will be detoxified by the body depends upon its half life. Heroin is a drug with a very short half life of typically 30 minutes. It means that after 30 minutes, the heroin is reduced to half the amount originally taken but it does not mean that it will be completely eliminated from the body after 60 minutes.
It will be reduced to 1/4th after that time. It shows that even with short half life, it takes some time for the body to completely eliminate the drug from the system. Some studies even suggest that heroin has a half life as short as 3-8 minutes.
How long does heroin stay in the body?
Heroin is a fast acting drug that produces its effects as soon as it enters the body. Injecting it is a faster method to feel its effects than snorting since the drug is directly entering the bloodstream and being transported to the brain. How long does heroin stay in the system is influenced by a lot of factors so the half life of heroin is likely to vary from one person to the other. These are the factors that influence half life, metabolism and elimination of heroin:
- Individual variations:
A number of factors determine how fast a person will be able to metabolize the drug such as:
- Age: Elderly people take more time to metabolize the drug since their body functions and metabolism work slower than a young person.
- Body Mass Index (BMI): The height and weight of a person influence the time taken to metabolize the drug. So a person who has taken low amount of drug with respect to his Body Mass Index is likely to metabolize it faster.
- Genetic disposition: Genes determine the metabolism of a person. So a person with good metabolic system will be able to break down the drug much faster than a person with poor metabolism.
- Diet and hydration: Diet and hydration can facilitate the process of detoxification of the drug a great deal. People who take good diet and stay hydrated get rid of the drug sooner than the ones who don’t.
- Liver and kidney function: Liver is concerned with the detoxification of the drugs while the kidney excretes the waste products from the body. If the liver and kidneys of a person work the way they should be working, the half life of the drug is usually shorter.
- Amount of the drug taken:
Greater the amounts of the drug taken, longer it takes for the body to detoxify it. The body can only metabolize a certain amount of drug at a given time no matter how fast the metabolic system of a user might be. So when the drug is taken in dangerously high amounts; overdose symptoms are produced since the body fails to detoxify the drug as fast as it is being consumed.
- Duration the drug was abused for:
Users who have a long history of heroin abuse are more likely to retain the drug in their body even after months of quitting the drug. This is because when high amounts of heroin are administrated in the body regularly, some of it may be stored in the fat cells. As a result, it takes significantly more time to remove all of it. However, infrequent users get rid of the drug soon after it is quit.
- Quality of the heroin consumed:
High quality heroin (pure heroin) stays in the system for much longer periods of time since it takes longer for the body to break it down. Generally, the heroin consumed by the addicts is cut by the dealers by adding different substances such as sugar, boric acid etc to increase the quantity so that type of heroin is not very potent.
It shows that the time duration for which heroin stays in the body is highly variable depending upon the person and other factors. It is important to understand individual needs and provide a treatment accordingly. SloRecoveryCenters assess a patient before devising a treatment plan to assure a speedy and successful recovery.
How is heroin metabolized and excreted by the body?
Heroin is first broken down into morphine and then in a number of other substances that are excreted mainly via urine. So it is possible to detect usage of heroin by taking a urine test. However, how fast it is broken down depends upon above mentioned factors.
Which tests are used to detect heroin in the system?
A number of tests can be taken to detect heroin in the system of the user. The following tests are approved by FDA:
- Urine tests:
A sample of user’s urine is taken and tested for heroin breakdown products. Heroin can be detected in the urine of the user up to 3 days after the last usage. Urine test is easy to perform and cost efficient so it is most commonly used. However, it has its limitations since it is only effective up to 3 days.
- Blood tests:
Blood test is only effective within the 12 hours of heroin intake and even lesser for some individuals. Since it is a fast acting drug with short half life, it leaves the blood soon after producing its effects. So blood test is not a suitable choice to detect heroin when user has used it a day ago or longer.
- Hair tests:
Hair test is an effective way to determine long term usage of the drug. With time, heroin tends to accumulate in hair follicles that can be tested for the presence of drug. However, it is not suitable if done right after heroin intake since it takes some time for heroin to build up in the follicle. It can be a test of choice if the person is a regular user or he has taken the drug months ago. It is possible to detect heroin via hair tests up to 90 days of last drug use.
- Saliva tests:
Saliva test is usually not performed for the detection of heroin in the system due to its short effective period. For a saliva test to be accurate, it is important that the user has taken the drug an hour ago. For some users, it is possible to detect heroin in saliva for up to 20 hours.
How to remove heroin from the system faster?
A number of simple changes in the lifestyle can help facilitate the process of removal of drug from the body. To speed up the process, it is important to take following measure:
- Avoid the drug:
As long as the usage of the drug is continued, it is not possible to clear it out of the system. The first step towards having a healthy body is quitting the drug immediately. Rehabilitation centers can be helpful in this regard.
- Eat healthy and stay hydrated:
Good food is known to have a positive effect on metabolic system. Faster the metabolism, quicker is the process of removal of heroin. Drinking plenty of water can also assist kidneys to remove heroin metabolites.
- Do exercise and adopt active lifestyle:
Exercise and yoga can greatly stimulate metabolic system making the process of removal of drug easier and faster.
- Take supplements:
Some supplements can be helpful to facilitate the process of removal of drug. However, it is important to consult the doctor regarding this matter to guide you about right type of supplements.
Recovery from heroin addiction is a long journey that is full of struggle and unpleasant experiences. But the result is worth all the pain. If a loved one is suffering from heroin addiction, get them the help they need.