How long does heroin last?

The most intense peak effects of heroin have a duration of about 2 hours and the overall “high” wears off about 4-5 hours after administration, leaving a feeling drowsiness, relaxation and disconnection. More on duration of heroin effects here.

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How long does a heroin “high” last? Usually, heroin lasts for a few hours, peaking after about 2 hours after administration. But what are the most common effects of a heroin “high” and how does heroin leave you feeling? Plus, how does heroin work on the brain?

Here, we review how long it takes for heroin to start acting, its effects on the body and brain, as well as the timeline for drug testing for this strongest of opiates. Then, we invite your questions and/or comments about the effects of heroin or getting help for heroin addiction at the end.

Heroin effects on the body and brain

Heroin is converted to morphine when entering the brain. Opioid receptors located throughout the central nervous system bind with morphine cells and act to affect pain perception and reward. However, heroin also affects areas that control automatic processes critical for life, such as blood pressure and respiration, and can lead to slowed breathing or heart rate.

Regular heroin use results in changes to brain functions. For example, repeated use of heroin results in tolerance, when more drug is needed in order to achieve the initial effect. Further, addiction (accompanied by physical dependence) is characterized by the psychological urge to use heroin and continue use despite negative life consequences. Heroin use can lead to changes in behavior, personality, and psychology…the hallmark symptoms of heroin addiction.

Heroin duration of action

Heroin’s duration of action depends on the route of administration. Even though snorting and injection are the most common way to take heroin, heroin metabolism differs when compared to ingested or smoked heroin.

For example, intravenous use of heroin onsets usually occurs within 20 seconds and the duration of effects would be around 4 hours. Furthermore, when smoking a dose of about 20mg of heroin, the peak onset of effects will take place about 10 minutes later, lasting only 5 minutes, while overall duration of effects is almost 5 hours.

How long do heroin effects last?

The most common effect of heroin is euphoric feeling and a subjective rush of vitality, accompanied by a physiological increase in body temperature. The euphoria may last as little as 45 seconds to as long as several minutes. The most intense peak effects have a duration of about 2 hours and the overall “high” wears off in about 5 hours after heroin administration, leaving a feeling drowsiness, ofrelaxation and disconnection to the rest of the world.

How long does a heroin high last?

The stages of heroin “high” are different for each individual, however users describe a similar process. At the beginning -only seconds after administration of heroin – comes nausea followed by the “hit”, also know as the “rush”. Depending on a user’s tolerance level, (the ability of the body to resist to heroin effects) the “rush” may last from 10 to 20 minutes. During this period, the user may have the strange feeling as if the body is made of liquid and the skin is burning hot, with heat coming from the inside. But when these effect wear off, the body starts to feel heavy, including the head, legs, arms etc. This stage, accompanied with dizziness may last from 30 minutes to 2 hours. The last phase does not have a clear end of heroin “high”, simply because it is different for each user.

Heroin high effects

In addition to euphoric effect, there are serious consequences to your health after heroin use. Breathing becomes shallow, problems with defecation emerge, concentration level drastically change, and perception and cognition are affected. The body temperature rises and you can lose sex drive.

If the heroin was injected, users may feel burning and itching feeling on the skin. Also a person who has just started taking heroin, may need to vomit or will feel nauseous. Following the “rush”, users have difficulties breathing, with big pauses between breaths. Users during this time may either become very alert and active or go into a latent sleeping state. The pulse rate becomes irregular and puts the user’s life into danger. This is the phase where overdoses of heroin can occur after concurrent use or repeated dosing, leading to unconsciousness, coma, or even death.

Heroin detection in the body

Heroin is an opiate that has the ability to accumulate in the human tissue and fat, slowly entering the blood stream over time. Heroin is detectible in hair follicles up to 3 months after use. In a tested urine sample, heroin will be present starting from 2.5 hours to 2 days after use. When it comes to heavy heroin use, morphine metabolites can be detected even as long as 7 days after last administration. Heroin metabolites remain in the blood for 5-6 hours in the saliva, again depending on the dose and chronic use.

How long heroin lasts questions

Do you still have questions about the duration of action of heroin? We invite your questions and comments about how long heroin stays in your system in the following section. We will try to provide ar personal and prompt response to all legitimate queries.

Reference Sources: National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration: Morphine (And Heroin)
Hazardous Substances Data Bank TOXNET: Heroin
National Institute on Drug Abuse: Heroin
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. I used to inject heroin but have recently started smoking it on a pipe (rather than chasing) but it is keeping me awake which never used to happen when I was hitting it. I have been doing about a gram a day which is a lot more than when I was hitting it. I am thinking it might as be cut with caffeine or something like that, does anyone have similar effect? Any feedback would be helpful

  2. If you are a recovered adddict but you use just once like one day, are you gonna be sick after that? Im suspicious that my SO is using when he goes back to his hometown

  3. Hello, I am writing a book and there is drug use. If a person is woken a few hours after injecting themselves, would they be functional….or would they be more sluggish?

  4. My daughter relapsed and shot heroin at 8pm, it’s been almost 24 hours and she’s still high nodding off! She says it was bad dope. When will it go away and she sobers up??? This is not normal

  5. No I got no I got is told me no I got is told me I have been on Suboxone for more than 2 years now if I don’t have it I get very sick when I do not have it which is been the case for the last month I have been using heroin one to two times daily no more than $20 worth of day but when I do not have it I get violently sick throwing up diarrhea nausea hot cold all the typical addiction signs why is it such a small amount it’s causing such a difficulty

  6. How often does an addict smoke heroin? How many times a day? How long until drug wears off? I need some information to understand patterns of behavior from my husband. I’m trying to help and be supportive in hopes he will eventually seek treatment. We have young children and I need help. Any information is greatly appreciated.

  7. Im 54 years of age and used opiates since the age of 20. Approx 10years ago the urine samples I was submitting to my doctor started coming back from the lab as opiate positive after 4 or 5 days of not using. it then went to 6,7,8,9 days and now 10days of not using is the borderline for my urine sample coming back clean or not. I regularly asked the doctor if they had improved thier detection methods but eventually he said nothing had changed in that department. The only possible explanation given by the doctor was the fact that Ive been using for so long may mean there is a chemical imbalance in my brain. I doubt if my new doctor even believes me. Can you offer up some explanation? I smoke heroin maybe 3 days weekly, Approx half a gramme each day. Im 5ft 7in & 10 stone 7lbs. My diet could be better but I doubt it would be a factor. In fact when the samples began coming back opiate positive after 10days my diet was definately pretty good so thats not a factor. Can someone please shed some light on this situation as I know of no one else with the same problem.

  8. I have a weird feeling a friend of mine is on heroin she has so many symptoms sleeps weird hours her hands are dry and itchy one afternoon I picked her up and as soon as she got in the car she said she had to throw up and then when she got back in the car she started rubbing her legs and her hands on her legs I found tampons and cotton swabs in my trash but the tampons were gone I asked her if she threw him down the toilet she said no and then she said yes she locks the door and then shes in the bathroom for about 2 hoursshe even lied and said her mother didn’t have the same phone number and I checked and she doesshe’s always late one day I came in when she slept over and she was like sitting up I thought she was reading a book she had black stuff on the cotton swab Q-tips shesaid it was mascara.and she denies it

  9. Hey, I have an addiction to anti-depressants and anti-parkinson’s drugs, and I’m going to try heroin soon, do any of you have a number I could call or know someone I could talk to help me with my addiction? Please, I don’t want to get hooked on heroin too…

  10. What is a normal dose of heroin for an everyday user, like what point or however it’s weighed would they need to for their “daily fix”

  11. I have a friend who is 25 weeks pregnant and still snorting heroin. She does about 2-3 bags a day, and is weaning off still. What I’m wondering is when does she need to be off of it so it won’t show up in her or the baby’s system when she has him? I know it can show up in her placenta as well

  12. Hey Dan! You’re wife was no doubt on heroin, which produces much more of a sedative effect. Rather than oxycontin which is an energetic faded experience

  13. Y husband started using heroin 5 months ago. He is going in the bathroom every hour & stays in their for 20 minutes smoking it. He is spending around 500.00 a week on drugs
    How severe is his habit? Also in the morning time he goes to work all pepped up & excited. Appears to be overly energetic. All day he is like that. Then around 10:30pm he goes to the bathroom again but this time he cant hardly stay awake. Do people take other drugs with heroin to counter act the nodding off during the day?

  14. My boyfriend has been clean from heroine for two years. Last night he was loaded on something: nodding off in the middle of sentences, sitting down, and he would nod off standing up in the bathroom. I also caught him in a weird squat position with his eyes closed and maybe he fell asleep on the toilet. this was around four am. when he woke up at 11 he was still a little dazed and slightly batting his eyes to long.
    I have no experience with any drugs, but I confronted him about it and he said he was on xanex. I have researched both drugs and I can’t figure out if what he says is true

  15. My loved one is currently high on H and I am oblivious to this stuff. He’s sitting up with his head back and breathing very deep with a snoring sound and then pauses and does it again.. Is this normal????

  16. My son (39) has OD three times in three months –tells me that he only did the heroin then. Is he addicted to heroin? The hospital said he did not need detox (St . Charles hospital on long island, ny) he needs help and is willing to get help, now–but there is no one to take him !! I am so upset!!

    1. Hi Karen. Why don’t you call the number on our site to speak with trusted treatment consultants. They can help you find a treatment program that fits your son’s needs.

  17. im on a methadone script&get tested 2weekly(urine)where you urinate in a pot and it tells you then and there exactly what is in your system everything from weed,benzodiazapines,heroin,cocaine,crack cocaine,methadone,bupronorphine(suboxone),oxycontin&from experience benzo’s last approx 2weeks unless a daily user then it can take four weeks to get out of the body doing cold turkey,cannabis can stay in6weeks and thats just from one joint,but heroin usually3/4days and it doesnt show up in your system,but all metabolisms are different and can vary quite abit,also these on the spot tests are more expensive&even show up the correct temperature your urine should be in the pot i its just left the body,whereas sometimes they just get you to urinate in a sample bottle and send it off to the lab and you get the results at your next appointment..i am in England also so dont know how widespread these on the spot tests are but im sure if my methadone clinic can get them any worried parents out there should be able to get hold of them if they are concerned a relative is using&wish to find out on the spot&believe me they are very accurate..

  18. It’s not likely, but Heroin can stay in your sytem for more than a week. I was a heavy user, and when I got clean I started taking regular drug tests at the dr. It was still showing up in my urine test two weeks later.

  19. and it has been a few hours since my last shot .. my arms and veins are like a war zone… im scared and ready to quit for good, i relapsed little over year ago after 3yrs clean and cant stop… its so hard this time and im 44 yr old… im really scared this time

  20. Good info…. thank you everyone…. i been shooot D & C for 2-3 days with no sleep, what is the best thing to drink and eat to start helping my body to recover, feel scared to go to sleep

  21. Want to know how manny days heroin wares off while your taken mathadone cause might give me a drug test …i only want to come out clean with only my body si how manny days it stays in your body like i said i .. only want to come out with methadone and they are gunna do the saliva test…want to know how manny days i have to take i can come out clean now iam drinking cranberry juice “”so how manny days it well last in my body ‘the heroin want to come out cleane only methadone on my body please tell me it last 2_3 days i hope when i go get test heroin be gone

  22. How long might a non-regular user who infested 1 g of heroine over 3 days expect to have metabolites found in a mass gas spectrometer test ? I realise we all have unique bodies . From what I read above Am I correct to understand that heroin may not be a great pain reliever say compared to Dilaidid or morphing ? That pain relief is a secondary effect of euphoria ? Please explain – thanks for factual and reliable answers – they can be hard to come by and I surely can’t ask my doctors !

    What is the difference between the powdered heron and the tar? Is the powdered more easily adulterated maki g it less safe ? Not that any is safe as you never know the strength or what you’re actually being given Dangerous ! But I am curious, does it have anything to do with where it’s produced ? Do the different kinds act differently in a persons body ? Thanks again for the education ! Public service appreciated

  23. My boyfriend accidentally snorted heroine last night, someone told him it was blow. He is conscious and coherent but wondering what if anything I should look out for in the next day or days?

  24. First time smoking been doing pain pills for years due to traumatic loss of a leg and severe back pain. Just did my first little chunk off of a piece of foil. Slight head rush but it did take the with drawl symptoms away. Wondering How long will it be before the ugly with drawl start again

  25. I just smoked a small 5$ piece of heroin also first time trying it an I feel so good n high like I ate 10 xanax bars an smoked weed too lol my ? Is how long does this high last cuz I didn’t know I’d be this high an laid back an I gotta drive in about an hour will I at least sober a lil bit omg I like the high but I need it to disappear fast please help I’m all alone an never tried it before so I have no1 to for the record I only got a 5$ piece to try an yes first an last time I’ll stick to xanex sometime answer please thanks

  26. I just shot up and I am on methadone and lately when I use after I shoot up my body really hurts it almost feels like it’s so itchy tht it hurts why is this happening I have never felt that befor I also get really hot and red in my face and my chest can anyone help ?!

    1. Hey Mark. I suggest you call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 for an assessment of overdose risk, or check into hospital.

  27. Questions about heroin! If someone does heroin say on a Friday and don’t do again over weekend or after they’ll still be high / because that’s what I’m being told and I don’t believe that. I don’t know much about this drug except it is horrible and help is appreciated

  28. Someone very close to me was administered narcane to bring them back to life last night. I was woke up at 330 in the morning with a call from the emergency room because they were there. What should I do to get specific instructions on how best to provide aftercare help. The person received ephenedrine to restart their heart.

  29. How long are eyes dilated when using heroin? I saw my daughter doing the heroin nod, and confronted her. She blew up, cussed me told me she hates me, and she got her boyfriend to tell me she was not high. (He is a non user) he said he can tell by her eyes.. I know what I saw, and I am very experienced at seizing the nod. So how long are eyes dilated before she hoed into the nodding mode. I am pretty sure she was using. Thank you

    1. Hi Peggy. Heroin, like other opioids and opiates, actually causes pupils to constrict or get smaller, and not dilate or get bigger after use.

  30. So my buddy swim (someone who isn’t me) started using heroin when he was 17, at that time he could use one pack (or $10) worth of dope and be high for a good 5-7 hours, and that was snorting it. About 6 months down the road he started to IV the dope and would have a rush for about 10 min or so, and a total high of about the same time 5-6 hours. He eventually fell out 3 times and decided to quit, cold turkey I may add. From then on he was clean for approx 31/2 – 4 years, never touched any other opiates or hard drugs the whole time. As of today he’s 22 and started using again about 6 months ago, the strange thing is he was clean for almost 4 years and now he says that the first time he used this time around the high was nothing like it was before. He said that the high wasn’t nearly as strong (maybe half as strong if that) and that it didn’t last anywhere near as long either (5 hrs compared to 10-15 min at the max). This left him very confused as to why after 4 years that it seemed like he was experiencing a very high tolerance. So my question is, why is he experiencing this? He never gained a tolerance up until he quit when he was 18. So why all of a sudden does he have such a high tolerance, and what might be causing it? Has maybe the drugs gotten weaker all over the country? Or did he gain some sort of tolerance somehow?

  31. My niece who is an admitted heroin user (started with oxy..) and recently came out of a long term (one month) rehab is now living with me. I have noticed erratic behavior, she has not paid my rent has promised, is presently working. Since I suspect she is using even though she claims not, I went through her trash and found aluminum foil with a “black like” ashy substance on it. She claims she never injected heroin, but smokes it. Did I find remnants of her smoking heroin? The foil in about 4″x4″ and covered in a black ash.

    1. Hello PC. You can only be absolutely positive that she’s using again if you drug test her. You may need to check her in again if she is using. I’d suggest you call the helpline number displayed on our site to get in touch with our trusted treatment providers. One of the best things is that their treatment centers will take back a recovering addict that was treated in one of their facilities, if s/he relapses, and for free. I believe they can truly help her quit substance abuse once and for all.

  32. My husband is herion addict for many many years. He cleans up for few days an back at it. Although he doesnt have veins he muscles the injection. Hes been high these last few days but hes acting different .could heroin be mixed with something else. He not nodding. Hes being loud talking too him self hitting him self.. I feel very unsafe around him. I usually don’t feel like this.. Im scared.

    1. Hello Irina. Because of its very short half life, heroin does not stay in the blood for long. Blood tests would likely only be effective within a day of taking the drug, at which point a urine test might be more accurate. Heroin can be detected in urine for 1-2 days, while a hair sample test can be detected for up to 90 days since last use.

  33. Miguel there is no way to make them come down it has to run it’d course. Nodding Dan is a sign of opeeit use hope I spelt that right

  34. Hello Dan. A simple home drug test can confirm your doubts. Such changes in energy are not natural, I agree you should look further into this matter. Good luck!

  35. My girlfriend was an addict and has been clean for ten months but the last month and a half have been different with her. Some days shes REALLY happy then some days she’s in bed by 9. Tonight she keeps nodding off and slurring her words and doing things so strange. And now she’s sleeping but her breathing has a 12-15 pause in between breaths. Is she using heroin ? Or Oxy Contin

  36. My sister and her boyfriend were recently found dead and a heroin overdose is suspected. However, the coroner has stated they did not find marks on my sisters body. A man that was in their apartment at the time they were found later told me and my father he had used with them, but that my sister and her boyfriend had taken morphine tablets earlier. My questions are as follows:
    1) If someone who is not a regular user shoots heroin, is it possible to not be able to find the injection site?
    2) Is it possible for 2 people who have taken morphine tablets to OD on @ 3 cc’s of heroin?

    The man that was with them had disposed of all of the paraphernalia, and was held for questioning but released. We live in Ohio and my understanding is it is difficult to prosecute people for supplying and/or administering drugs that kill others. I am hoping this happens, but am not holding my breath. My sister is gone, her boyfriend is gone and that is what happens when you mess with drugs. I will never understand why this man would have given them this crap if he knew they had already taken morphine, it’s seems like that would be like double dosing.

    Thank you in advance for any answers you can provide.

  37. Hello Albert. Heroin can show up on a urine test for as little as two and half hours or as much as two days after you’ve used. I’d say you’ll be fine, but there are many factors that can influence how long the drug stays in your system.

  38. I injected about a quarter gram of heroin Sunday afternoon and have a urine lab screen Thursday morning at 10:00am. Can I pass my urine screen?

I am ready to call
i Who Answers?