Does heroin show up on drug tests?

Yes, heroin can be detected on drug tests. Learn about heroin drug testing, types of tests, detection times, and how heroin test results are verified. More here.

5
minute read

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:

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  • 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:

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  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

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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

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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.

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  • 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
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.

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  1. Was tested, after they told me my samole was not enough to test. After i got Insurance, and would no longer pay them $150.00 a month per visit. And right after i asked to see another Dr. the Dr. came in the room. I told him my brother was sick and was dying. He then told me the Dea contacted him. To tell him i am usi g herion. Well that is just not true. So i adked him how could that be. He gives me morphine sulfate, fenttora. Said i need to fi d another Dr. got up and walked out of the room. I saud wait a min. Can i have at least 800 mg of ibuprofen . I asked for the number so i could clear this up! He said look it up. I then ask to see the report. He only would show me the line where it said herion.not giving me a copy. I ask for the labs number. The asst . Said she had it home. This all sounds a bit made uo to my hustand myself. Ols advise!

  2. Hi i have a question I did heroin last Monday and that was the last time i used and I have a 12 panel drug test this wensday will i pass and i drink like4 water bottles a day

  3. If I used heroin 1 time in a very small dose between 60 and 65 days ago will it show up on hair test..same for cocaine..a very small dose about 65 to 70 days ago

  4. Yes i just recenetly took some herion and needed to ta take a drug test for me to get my suboxonescbut i dont want to show possitive for it what can i do to not show a possitive on my drug test i have my test at 430 this afternoon

  5. What does heroin show up as on a drug test. If I am prescribed hydrocodone 7.5/325 and was given IV morphine, and also prescribed oxycodone from the hospital, will they be able to tell that I have also used heroin separately? Please help I have a test this morning with Pain Management.

  6. I have been clean 75 days and just took a hair folical drug test for 90 days and cut my hair right before the drug test to 1 inch. Her ion and meth were what I was doing will I be clean on the test?

  7. My probation officer said I had a dirty urine for heroin on May 9th. I used on April 25th over 2 weeks. I told him to retest it what will my results show. After about 16 to 18 days have passed how could it still show dirty for heroin?

  8. My girlfriend used heroin about 60 hours before she went into her methadone clinic & she had a swab test will she fail her test still

  9. I have a nephew that is addicted to meth but told everyone he took an estasy pill on a urine test will the meth and estasy pill show up as the same thing or will it show differently

    1. Hi Nancy. Meth and ecstasy are two different substances, so on a drug test they will show up as different things.

  10. I used heroin on Sunday evening. I did a .3 i have been usi g once a week for past month. I have to urine test at my methadone clinic tomorrow friday morning. Will the heroin i did sunday show up still?

    1. Hi Angel. Heroin is detectable on a urine drug test from several hours after use up to 2-4 days after use. However, heavy and/or binge use can make this detection window longer.

  11. I recently got a false positive heroin test from my methadone clinic. I haven’t used in over a year and a half but that time frame I had a script for Xanax so that was the only other thing becides my methadone I took but my test said heroin metabolite (ng/ml) 2 and morphine (ng/ml) 1. It was from a mouth swab. I don’t know anything about what the numbers mean but it says the cut off for them was at (ng/ml) 1 so I was at the cut off an barley over for the other. If anyone knows what these numbers mean or about false positives please let me know because I can’t get any answers from my clinic, it’s crazy because they couldn’t or maybe wouldn’t even tell me what the numbers meant, would apppreciate any info thanks

    1. Hi Shay. Try to remember what have you eaten or taken. Sometimes, poppy seeds added to cakes, bagels, and other pastries, can contain traces of opiates and cause a false positive opiates for as long as two days after consumption. I suggest that you retake the test.

  12. I am not a heroin user, but my family has accused me of this. Now I have a legitimate prescription for an opiate pain med how can you differentiate between the two? Will it say Heroin on the test, I just don’t want anything to cause a false positive. Again I am not a heroin user so I need to prove this. Thank you

  13. Hi. I’m pregnant and used heroin once already that my OB was aware of. I stopped for almost 100 days but slipped aND started shooting again (2-3 bags a day for the last month). However I just stopped. If I’m 31 weeks pregnant and I don’t touch it again will my baby still test positive? I know they can test the baby’s urine, meconium or placenta..also I am prescribed fiorocet which I was told has codeine in it..I’m wondering if they do test the baby will they be able to tell I was doing heroin again or will it just come up as opiates?

  14. I like to know if you pass A’home test kit for heroin can you pass a test that gets sent to the lab also my question is if I pass a home test kit that mean I’ll be able to pass a laboratory piss test

  15. Swim tested positive for fentanyl and morphine but also heroin. How does the lab differentiate from the 3? Is it possible to contest the results? The test was performed on an autopsy and the cops tried to make it look like an overdose. However I know it wasn’t. What are normal levels for a heavy user?

  16. I just yesterday was informed by a drug testing facility that a hair folicle drug test performed on me tested positive for heroin. However, I am not a user and have spent every moment since then trying to figure out how traces/ dose of this drug has been detected in my system. After much thought I think the answer lies in passive exposure. Recently I moved in with a uncle with whom is battling addiction to this drug. Anyhow as he and I share a bathroom I came to notice about two weeks ago a bottle of vitamins in his medicine cabinet called testo boost. Curious about this vitamin I took one single pill and thought nothing of it. Fast forward to yesterday I learned from him that that medicine bottle, which had that single vitamin has been used by him to mix heroin. This now I believe explains my exposure. So I guess my two questions are this 1: would the hair folicle test have indicated that it was a very level of dosage? 2: would it indicate that it the level of this drug was so minimal that there is no evidence of patterned of usage?

  17. Is their any kind of medicine off the shelf yu buy will cause yu to show up heroin or are their certain types of food yu eat will show it up

  18. I took I urine test for CPS and they said I was positive for herion. The test results said herion 90 ng as the level. I am on methadone but I did not do herion. I know the test was wrong. Is 90 ng even high enough of a level to be considered a positive for herion…..I got screwed. I did a hair follicle test to prove I didn’t do herion and wat do ya know, no herion I. My hair….

  19. 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?

  20. 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?

  21. 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

  22. 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

    1. 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.

  23. 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!

  24. My friend tested positive for heroin and negative for marijuana. She has never done heroin, but does smoke pot. How is this possible?

    1. 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: http://addictionblog.org/ebooks/the-definitive-guide-to-drug-testing/

  25. 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?

  26. 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?

  27. 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!

  28. 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?

  29. 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?

  30. 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?

  31. 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

  32. 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

    1. 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.

  33. 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.”

    1. 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…

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