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How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System? - Urine, Saliva & Hair

Believe it or not, when heroin was first invented in 1874 by English chemist Charles Romney Alder Wright, it was promoted as a solution for morphine addiction. Morphine had become a major problem after the American Civil War, with thousands of wounded soldiers becoming addicted after being prescribed morphine for pain relief.

Along with being used to treat pain, heroin was given to mothers during childbirth to relieve stress and relax the body and was a common ingredient in everyday remedies like cough syrups and antidiarrheals. 

Fast forward to the 21st century, and heroin became an even greater epidemic, with heroin addiction tripling from 2002 to 2013. To put the gravity of the issue into perspective, 33,000 people died due to opioid overdoses in 2015 alone.

As healthcare professionals and addiction specialists continue to combat this epidemic and assist those impacted by opioid dependence, accurate drug testing becomes even more essential.

Thankfully, there are many devices on the market that can determine if heroin has been ingested or injected by an individual, and healthcare professionals now know the length it takes for heroin to leave your system.

Testing Windows

There are many factors that can influence how long heroin metabolites can be detected in the human body, including a percentage of body fat, whether or not the individual has built up a strong tolerance for the drug and the amount of opium the person uses per dose.

Generally, however, healthcare professionals and addiction treatment specialists adhere to the guidelines below:



Urine screen

24-72 hours

Saliva screen

24-36 hours

Hair follicle screen

Up to 90 days

As you can see, heroin stays in urine for only a short amount of time, and in saliva for even less. Hair follicle tests, however, are extremely accurate at identifying historical heroin use and can provide test administrators with a clear idea of how much heroin a patient uses and how long they have been using the drug.

Types of Tests

There are four main categories of drug tests that can be used to detect heroin metabolites in the body— three of which we mentioned above.

If you’ve wondered “How long does heroin stay in your system?” it’s important to understand each testing method, as the type of screen used is directly linked to the answer to this question.

  1. Urine Tests

Urine heroin tests are best for situations where an employer, physician, or legal representative needs to determine if an individual has used heroin recently. 

For example: 

If an employer suspects that a heavy equipment operator was under the influence while operating machinery the day prior, a urine heroin test would be an adequate screening method.


One of the most important things to be aware of before purchasing urine tests is the possibility of false results. Many people use cheating methods to fool urine screens, including providing a fake urine sample or doing detox cleanses to rid the substance for their system. 

  1. Saliva Tests

Saliva heroin screens are considered to be a step above urine tests, largely due to the fact that they are harder to hoodwink. Saliva tests are completed by having a trained professional swab the inside of the mouth for 2-3 minutes. Since the test administrator is with the individual being tested the entire time the screen is being completed, it is far more difficult to use cheating tactics.

  1. Hair Follicle Tests

For those who require a more detailed account of an individual’s drug use, or who are concerned that too much time has passed and thus the drug may no longer be present in the person’s urine or saliva, hair follicle screens are recommended. These tests are completed by collecting a small portion of hair (approximately 150 strands) from the back of the head. Body hair can also be used if the individual is bald. When completed by professionals, these tests are completely supervised, so cheating is virtually impossible.

  1. Blood Tests

Blood screens are usually the most accurate and conclusive form of drug testing. However, these tests can only be administered by laboratory or healthcare professionals. They also are not very effective at testing for heroin because the drug has a short half-life. It is usually out of the user’s blood within 5 hours.

How Long Does A Heroin High Last?

The deadly effects of heroin are well hidden at first. A person’s first heroin high will produce feelings of euphoria and will eliminate any pain, depression or stress the individual has been experiencing. It can have an extremely calming effect, with many users reporting that they feel warm, or like they are in a dream-like state and completely disconnected from their surroundings. These feelings of euphoria generally only last a few minutes, then give way to a darker period of low-energy and drowsiness which can last for hours.

The heroin high experience does change with repeated use as the body builds up a tolerance to the drug. This means that the user has to take more in order to produce the same pleasant effects. This is how heroin dependence begins, and soon the body will go into withdrawal without it. Withdrawal from heroin is severely distressful for those who experience it, with symptoms including chills, shaking, intense abdominal pain, muscle spasms, depression, diarrhea, and nausea.

Screen for Heroin With Countrywide’s Industry-Leading Devices

Our opiate drug tests are 99% accurate. They are also FDA Cleared, 510K approved and CLIA waived. We offer both urine heroin tests and hair follicle tests, allowing our customers to choose the method that will best meet their needs.

Do you have questions or concerns about our heroin screening devices? Contact us today.