How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?

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If you’ve recently used heroin and you are looking for a job or have an upcoming drug test, you may be wondering how long does heroin stay in your system. If you end up testing positive for heroin use, that could bring some serious consequences for your life, affecting your employment, your income and your ability to provide for yourself and your family. In some cases, it can even lead to legal consequences.

Types of Drug Tests That Detect Heroin

The length of time it takes from your last use of the drug until you can pass a test depends on several factors. The main factor is the type of drug testing that will be administered and the type of sample that will be collected.

Keep in mind that the information below is a guideline that will be accurate for most circumstances, but there could be exceptions where you still test positive even after the times listed below have passed. If you are a heavy user experiencing drug addiction, then it is possible that you could test positive far outside of the time frames discussed here.

1. Blood Testing – Up to 12 Hours

Blood testing is a common method for determining whether heroin or other drugs are present in a person’s body. Heroin doesn’t stay in the blood for very long, however, so there is a fairly short window of time for this type of test to be effective. Because of this short frame of reference, blood-based drug testing can be useful for determining whether a person currently has the drug in their system and might therefore still be under the influence of the drug at the time of the test or just prior to it.

2. Urine Testing – Approximately 3-4 Days

Urine analysis is probably the most common form of drug testing as it is often less costly than hair analysis and can detect the presence of heroin for a longer period of use compared to blood and saliva analysis. However, unlike blood testing, urine tests cannot tell if you are currently affected by the drug. This method can only tell if you’ve been using within the past few days.

3. Sweat Testing – Approximately 1-3 Days

With this method, a patch is applied to the skin and left in place for one to three days to accumulate the subject’s sweat. Sweat testing for drugs is common in settings where large groups of people need to be tested simultaneously, such as in prisons. It’s faster, cheaper and more convenient than urine testing since privacy is not an issue that needs to be worked around.

However, studies using sweat testing patches were not able to accurately determine whether the subject was presently under the influence of heroin. Therefore, this type of test can see if you’ve been using in the past few days but not whether you are presently affected by the drug. Also, the test results can be skewed by environmental factors that increase or reduce the amount of sweat excreted, such as air temperatures, humidity and hydration levels.

4. Saliva Testing – Approximately 2-3 Days

Saliva testing is also useful for detecting some types of drug use, but the most effective detection window is typically only 48 hours. Some subjects will still test positive after two days have passed depending on factors like dosage, metabolism and hydration. Saliva testing can be done quickly and affordably, and unlike urine testing, no special precautions need to be taken to ensure privacy.

This method is also used in home drug tests. A swab on the inside of the cheek collects the sample, and then it is sent off to the lab.

5. Hair Testing – Up to 90 Days

Hair-testing methods are more expensive than other tests, but they can detect the presence of many types of drugs and their metabolites for up to three months, making hair tests the most effective testing method for determining drug use. A sample of hair is cut from the scalp, and the inch of hair closest to the root is tested.

Visible Signs of Heroin Addiction

Obviously, the best thing to do is to stop using so that it does not interfere with your ability to perform your job duties. If you struggle with heroin use disorder and are afraid that it could cause you to lose your job, then you will want to reduce the chances of being called in by your employer for a drug test.

Here are some signs of addiction that could cause your employer to have a reasonable suspicion of use. If you are showing any of these symptoms of heroin addiction throughout the workday, then there’s a good chance that you could be required by your employer to take a drug test. If heroin is detected in your system, you could be placed on suspension, and it could even lead to you being fired from your job.

  • Shallow breathing
  • Slurred speech
  • Euphoria
  • Small pupils
  • Excessive sweating
  • Heightened sensitivity to pain

Many employers have resources available to help employees struggling with drug addiction. If your company offers such employee benefits, contact your human resources department to see what they can do to help you get the support you need.

What About False Positives?

In some cases, it is possible for subjects to test positive for heroin even if they did not use the drug at all. The reason for this is that heroin is classified as an opiate, or OPI, and opiate tests can get a positive hit if other substances related to heroin are found in the urine or other sample.

For example, methadone, an OPI medication commonly prescribed during heroin addiction treatment, can set off a false positive for heroin use. Always make sure to keep documentation from your physician for any medications you are using just in case one of the tests gives a false positive result.

Following the prescribed dosage from your doctor is also necessary. If you are taking more of the medication than prescribed or you are taking it longer than prescribed, you can still fail the test and will not be able to use your medication as justification.

The cutoff levels are another factor that could cause a false positive drug testing result. Each test is looking for specific compounds and chemicals inside the tissue or fluid sample. In most of these tests, it is not a matter of whether any amount of the compound is present. Rather, it detects the amount of the compound up to a certain level, known as the cutoff. If the cutoff is set very low, then even a trace amount of the drug or a compound similar to it can generate a false positive result.

Government-based drug tests are only allowed to test for specific drugs with relatively high cutoff levels, making it easier to pass these tests. However, private companies might use labs that have lower cutoff levels, resulting in stricter testing.

How Often Do Companies Test for Drug Use?

Most states allow for private companies to test employees for drugs at any time, but there has a been a push in recent years to protect the privacy of employees from random drug testing.

However, drug tests are not only allowed but might even be required in certain jobs where safety is a major concern, such as vehicle and heavy equipment operators. Drug impairment can greatly reduce employee productivity levels and create negative interactions among employees and customers. Drug use can also cause accidents resulting in property damage, facility shutdown, injury and death.

It has been estimated that drug use disorders cost businesses $81 billion per year in damages, lawsuits and lost sales. While a drug test might seem like an inconvenience or an invasion of privacy for employees, it is a necessity for businesses to ensure that their employees are not coming to work under the influence of illicit drugs.

Many companies perform drug testing for the following reasons:

  • As a pre-employment condition: Job applicants who pass the initial screening and interview process are often given a provisional job offer dependent on them passing a drug test.
  • To confirm reasonable suspicion of use: When management observes suspicious behavior that indicates possible intoxication or drug use, a drug test might be administered.
  • To determine an accident cause: Any time a major accident occurs that results in property damage or injury, a test is likely to be required to determine if the employee was under the effects of drugs.
  • As part of a regular schedule of periodic tests: Some companies test employees according to a schedule, such as every quarter or every year.
  • To act as a deterrent: Many companies will randomly assign drug tests on an ongoing basis, which can affect any employee at any time.
  • As a return-to-work condition: Employees who have missed a long period of work due to drug rehabilitation treatment or other reasons might be required to take a test prior to being put back on the work schedule.
  • As a condition for a promotion: When an employee is promoted to a higher position or to another department within the organization, a drug test might be required.

How to Test 100% Clean Every Time

How long does heroin stay in your system? It depends mostly on the type of drug test being used and the cutoff levels used by the testing facility. Other factors can come into play as well, such as how often you use and how long you have been using. Your dosage, hydration levels and even your body’s metabolism can also affect how long heroin can be detected within your sample tissues and fluids.

There are many ways that people try to beat drug tests, but as these tests are becoming more finely tuned, it is more difficult than ever to get a false negative result. The only reliable way to truly beat the test is to stop using heroin once and for all.

The Road to Recovery

The road to recovery is not quick or easy. Overcoming heroin addiction is a life long journey, and there will always be the possibility of relapse when precautions are not taken to keep yourself clear of temptation. You truly will need to completely change your lifestyle and work on becoming a new person if you want your system to be clear of drugs for good.

Many heroin users have gone before you. Many have struggled to overcome their addictions but have completely transformed their lives, finding long-term employment and building lasting relationships. If you make up your mind to do the things necessary to overcome addiction, you can change your life, too. Haven Detox is here to help. Our 28-day residential program is focused on helping you or your loved one overcome your addiction and begin your road to recovery. Call us today for more information on our programs