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For those seeking addiction treatment for themselves or a loved one, the helpline is a private and convenient solution. Caring advisors are standing by 24/7 to discuss your treatment options.
Calls to any general helpline (non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) for your visit (IP: will be answered by American Addiction Centers (AAC) or a paid sponsor.
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Does heroin show up on drug tests?

Yes, heroin does show up on drug tests.

When you take heroin, the effects may last from few minutes to several hours, but the drug can stay in your system for much longer than many users expect.

How is heroin detected, and what steps should you take in case you have a positive drug test for heroin? Find the answers to these questions and more in the following article. At the end, we welcome your questions or personal experiences about heroin drug testing. In fact, we try to respond to all questions personally and promptly.

Why order a drug test for heroin?

A drug test is a procedure during which a biological specimen taken from samples such as urine, hair, blood, or breath is used to determine the presence or absence of drugs in the system. Drug testing for heroin is usually performed for the following reasons:

  • Pre-employment testing
  • Random testing for work, legal, or school
  • Return-to-duty drug testing for illicit drugs
  • Reasonable suspicion or cause testing
  • Post-accident testing
  • Follow-up testing for medical reasons

Drug testing for heroin in work environments

Workplace heroin testing programs are designed to detect the presence of heroin. Drug testing is a method of prevention and a deterrent from illicit drug abuse, which is why it is often part of a comprehensive drug-free workplace program. Why do employers drug test?

First, heroin is responsible for a substantial loss in employee productivity. Naturally, employers and want to know what is affecting your work performance. Testing for heroin is a way to identify possible signs of heroin addiction. Further, drug testing aims to prevent employees from coming to work incapable of performing their work-tasks in a safe and responsible manner.

In some organizations. drug testing is required for all employees. In fact, both federal and non-federal workplaces are allowed by law to have drug testing programs in place. Still, any workplace drug-testing program should comply with applicable local, state, and federal laws.

There are several reasons why drug testing might be required, such as:

  1. Compliance with federal regulations, insurance carrier requirements, and/or with customers .
  2. Compliance with reinforcing the organization’s “no drug use” position .
  3. Identification of employees with substance use disorders and referring them for assistance .
  4. Establishing boundaries and rules for discipline or firing .
  5. Improvement of safety.

Types of heroin drug testing

Heroin can be successfully detected in the body of individuals who take the drug, using the following types of drug tests:

1. Hair follicle tests to detect heroin

Hair follicle testing is an effective way to detect heroin after many months since last use. Many drugs, especially heroin, remain in the hair for up to three (3) months, or longer (depending on the length of hair sample).

2. Urine tests for heroin

Heroin is detectable on a urine drug test from several hours after use up to 2-4 days after use. Heavy users can fail a drug urine test for as long as seven (7) days after using heroin.

3. Blood tests for heroin

Blood tests are another way to detect heroin drug use, but are considered to be the least reliable . Many opiates, like heroin, leave a person’s blood stream within 6 hours of dosing and are difficult to detect within this short window of time.

4. Saliva testing for heroin

Heroin has a short detection time when using saliva or oral fluid drug tests. After taking heroin, the averge detection period ranges from 5 to 48 hours.

Heroin detection in the body

Heroin stays in the body for a short period of time. It’s half-life is somewhere around 10 minutes, and it’s out of the the user’s system within 3-4 days. However, heroin may still be detected in the user’s body even after this period via drug test. The detection window for heroin greatly depends on the type of drug test.

  • Blood testing usually only detects use of heroin for up to 1 DAY after use.
  • Urine tests can detect traces of heroin from 1 – 4 DAYS after use.
  • Hair follicle tests may detect levels of heroin for up to 90 DAYS or longer.

Other factors that influence the detection period of heroin include:

  • the amount of heroin used
  • frequency of use
  • how long you have been abusing the drug
  • level of heroin purity
  • physical tolerance to heroin

Heroin might still be detectable in the user’s system for longer periods in cases such as:

  • Taking higher-dose of heroin
  • Daily heroin use or multiple use per day
  • Slow metabolism
  • Use of additional substances(medications) that cause slower heroin processing

Heroin cut-off levels

Different types of drug tests have different cut-off levels which vary by drug. A heroin cut-off should be optimized to detect the presence of the drug in any biospecimen or sample, but should also minimize the number of false positive results by being too sensitive. Here are some basic guidelines for heroin cut of levels for urine and hair screens.

1. Urine cut-off levels: The cut-off level for initial urine tests for heroin is 2000 ng/m.

2. Hair cut-off levels: The standard hair screen takes 1.5 inches of growth as a sample for testing. The detection period of 1.5 inches hair sample is approximately 90 days. If the persons hair is shorter than 1.5 inches, this detection period will be shorter as well.

NOTE: A negative test result doesn’t always mean the person has not used heroin or that s/he is drug free. In some cases, the drug may be present in the body with a concentration lower that the defined cut-off.

Positive drug testing for heroin

If your heroin drug test comes back positive, there are several things you can do:

  1. Ask if you can retake the test.
  2. Require the laboratory to retest your sample again.
  3. You can ask for a hair drug testing sample to be performed (usually you have to cover the costs).

Laboratories have the highest credibility when it comes to confirmation of urine samples for drug testing. Positive test results that indicate the presence of heroin might have to be double checked because of certain foods, food supplements, beverages, or medicines that may affect the testing results.

Heroin testing discussion

Do you still have questions regarding drug testing for heroin? Please share your questions and comments in the section below. We are interested in hearing from you and will do our best to respond to all legitimate enquiries with a personal and prompt response.

Reference Sources: NIH: What are the long-term effects of heroin use?
SAMHSA: Drug Testing
SAMHSA: Plan and Implement a Program
Leave a reply

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

Decriminalization/legalization is necessary, it needs to be backed up with public health announcements explaining exactly why it is needed. Its not in any way condoning the abuse of addictors, it is done bc the alternative, the drug war, has made things infinitely worse on almost every level, to include making drugs abundantly available to any & all that wants them. We need to pull LE out of the drug biz - that will free up a lot of resources currently chasing their collective tails. When the laws create more harm and cause more damage than they prevent, its time to change the laws. The $1 TRILLION so-called war on drugs is a massive big government failure - on nearly every single level. Its way past time to put the cartels & black market drug dealers out of business. Mass incarceration has failed. We cant even keep drugs out of a contained & controlled environment like prison. We need the science of addiction causation to guide prevention, treatment, recovery & public policies. Otherwise, things will inexorably just continue to worsen & no progress will be made. Addiction causation research has continued to show that some people (suffering with addiction) have a "hypo-active endogenous opioid/reward system." This is the (real) brain disease, making addiction a symptom, not a disease itself. One disease, one pathology. Policy must be made reflecting addiction(s) as a health issue. The war on drugs is an apotheosis of the largest & longest war failure in history. It actually exposes our children to more harm & risk and does not protect them whatsoever. In all actuality, the war on drugs is nothing more than an international projection of a domestic psychosis. It is not the "great child protection act," its actually the complete opposite. The lesson is clear: Drug laws do not stop people from harming themselves, but they do cause addicts to commit crimes and harm others. We need a new approach that decriminalizes the disease. We must protect society from the collateral damage of addiction and stop waging war on ourselves. We need common sense harm reduction approaches desperately. MAT (medication assisted treatment) and HAT (heroin assisted treatment) must be available options. Of course, MJ should not be a sched drug at all. "Prohibition goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded."
Ivana @ Addiction Blog
Monday, August 22nd, 2016

Hi mrm42. You speak the truth! But, laws and politics don't seem to work this way. We have the example of Portugal, where the personal use and possession of all illicit drugs was decriminalized back in 2001. This drug policy has been cited as proof that softening drug laws does not increase illicit drug use or the consequences of drug use. The U.S. War on Drugs is clearly failing by far...
m lewis
Thursday, August 11th, 2016

hi I really need to know wear I can get a test kit can u tell me wear I can get one please im so desperate
Ivana @ Addiction Blog
Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

Hi M Lewis. You can buy at-home drug test kits online. There are many companies who sell and deliver them. Otherwise, you can ask your doctor for a drug test to be performed in a laboratory.
Thursday, August 18th, 2016

My cousin took herion on Tuesday 1 bag and Wednesday 1bag he has a urine test either this Thursday or Friday will it show up please get back to me ASAP
Thursday, August 25th, 2016

I did 8 bags Sunday afternoon I had a UT and mouth swab test on Wednesday I know the UT showed up hot cause I took a 12 panel at home first thing Wednesday morning and it was POS for opt.... Later that morning I took a UT at the clinic..(sent out to labs) then later around 3pm Wednesday my PO came by and gave me a mouth swab test and sent it out to the labs ....... Will my swap test be POS ??? She just told me to put it in my mouth I did not move it around and it was barely touching my cheek I drank lots of water and brushed my teeth beforehand .how long does heroin stay detectable in saliva...... Did I pass or fail??? I go to jail if I fail thanks hope some one can help
Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

I'm on a pain contract. my urine test came back positive for my pain meds but also heroin. they are gonna send it off for further testing. what should I expect? and is there anything else that would trigger that to be positive for heroin other than heroin?
Lydia @ Addiction Blog
Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

Hi Danny. Poppy seeds that are added to cakes, bagels, and other pastries, can contain traces of opiates and cause a false positive opiates. Download our FREE e-book to learn more on the causes of false positive and what to do:
Saturday, November 5th, 2016

So if heroin doesn't show up but there's a ton of morphine that shows up and you know that someone has used? Is there a way to tell how much was consumed by the amount of morphine found in their system?
Saturday, November 12th, 2016

First off I haven't used in 2months , and before hand all I ever did was snort them, I have never used a needle, anyhow I haven't used in 2 months but I did snort 4-5 lines Thursday and fri I popped a couple adderall and i have to take a urine test Monday, will it show up in my urine if I drink alot of water?
Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

What color does the dipstick turn from inserting into heroin bag?
Lydia @ Addiction Blog
Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

Hi Lisa. Did you carefully read the instructions? It should be written there.
Monday, December 19th, 2016

Hi. I am looking for a saliva test for home use that will distinguish between heroin and methadone. The only ones I can find come in bulk for businesses at over $200. I need just a few and more inexpensive. Cannot find one anywhere that distinguished the two drugs. Help would be appreciated. Thanks!
Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

My husband's urine was sent to the lab to confirm the opiates in his body were actually Morphine Sulfate. This was through probation. However, he is using heroin. He at the time was an IV user with a relatively slow metabolism. Will the immunessay lab detect morphine sulfate or heroin?
Lydia @ Addiction Blog
Friday, February 3rd, 2017

Hi Devon. Depends of the test. It may show both.
Friday, February 17th, 2017

If I passed 2instant drug test then when it went to lab & they said there was morphine & I only used alittle the day before wouldn't my level of morphine have to be very low?
Saturday, April 29th, 2017

My friend tested positive for heroin and negative for marijuana. She has never done heroin, but does smoke pot. How is this possible?
Lydia @ Addiction Blog
Thursday, May 4th, 2017

Hi Dianne. First, maybe, there's some mixed up in the tests. Also, ask your friend what food she ate before the test. For instance, poppy seeds (added to cakes, bagels, and other pastries) can contain traces of opiates and cause a false positive opiates for as long a two days after consumption. I suggest that you and your friend download our free e-book 'The Definitive Guide To Drug Testing' to learn more about false positive, here:
Friday, July 21st, 2017

Ok I know my boyfriend is a meth user but i know hes been using heroin and has been for 2 years now! He has all the symptoms eyes rolling behind head nodding out itching runny nose track marks ect... ive also found the crumbles of heroin all over my house and other types of heroin paraphenilla . ive drug tested him twice and all that shows up is marijuana meth cocaine and msds !!! Wtf?? Ive been educating my self on heroin addiction for two yrs now! Whay am i missing is the heroin synthetic why isnt it showing up??? Help please!
Sunday, August 13th, 2017

If you get a test specifically for heroin, is there any other drug that would show positive on that test
Ivana @ Addiction Blog
Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

Hi Briana. Depends on the test. They don't usually come to be heroin-specific, but can test for opiates only. In that case, any opiate drugs including heroin, morphine, opium, smack...will come up.
Thursday, August 17th, 2017

I am needing to know what kind of drug screen test that I need to buy to get to test my daughter for heroin
Ivana @ Addiction Blog
Thursday, August 17th, 2017

Hi Jennifer. You can check out your local Walgreens aisles for at-home drug tests. There are many varieties that test for a number of drugs and range in price from $15 to $80. Check out the link here: Still the best, and most reliable test results can be acquired through laboratory drug testing.
Friday, August 18th, 2017

Hello.. I had to take a hair follicle test . i used heroin a handful of times in 90 days . i am a once a week user and only use up to 2 bags per use do i have any chance of passing this test? Also will it come up as opiates or actual heroin. I told them I took pain pills and am very nervous how the results will come back
Lydia @ Addiction Blog
Thursday, August 31st, 2017

Hi Kristy. Heroin usually remains in the hair for up to three (3) months. If you want to learn more about drug testing, download our free e-book:
Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

I have been using heroin for rhe laat 3 days and did my laat doae about 30 mins ago. I am not uaing anymore due to a drug test ser for rhe 6th of Oct. I am 5'6" tall 143 pounds and 49 years old. Will I fell my urine test on Oct the 6th. Truly have to pass this drug test. Are there things I can do to get my body clean by then
Lydia @ Addiction Blog
Thursday, September 28th, 2017

Hi Marie. Heroin usually stays in the system up to 3-4 days. But, this detection frame is longer for long-term users. If you want to learn more about drug testing and cheating methods, download our free e-book here:
Sunday, October 22nd, 2017

If I have been using heroin and I was taking Percocet for pain and the pain got so bad I used heroin and I need to take a drug test for my doctor is it going to show the difference between the Percocet and the heroin and if so what can I take that will mask the heroin on my drug test will they show the same?
Friday, October 27th, 2017

I've been clean for 3months but I'm on methadone I did a shot of 40units Tuesday will I come out dirty Fri...
Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

I have custody of a little boy. The state took him from his father. They did a hair folicle test on the baby. He came up positive for heroin. How much heroin has to be in your system for it to show up in a hair test?
Lydia @ Addiction Blog
Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

Hi Stephanie. Heroin can be found up to 90 days in a hair test. But, keep in mind that some foods like pastry with poppy seeds may lead to false positive. I suggest that you consult with an expert about this, and you may want to download our free e-book on drug testing to learn more:
Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

If I took Heroin on 11 27 27 at 7 pm and had to take a ua the next day will it already be matalized in to morphin
Saturday, December 16th, 2017

Can the urine test for herion . Tell if it from a male or female urine???
Sunday, December 31st, 2017

I’ve been a snorter of mainly benzodiazepines for years & lost my sense of smell. Will I ever b able to smell again????