How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?

12 Step Addiction CounselorDetermining how long drug stay in the human body is not an exact science. According to the Department of Labor, the metabolites created by heroin are detectible via a standard drug test for a period of less than one day. The real question to ask when it comes to heroin addiction is this: How long is the use of the drug going to stay present in your life?

Some Decisions Last a Lifetime

Drug addiction can cause some individuals to ignore their vocational or education requirements and responsibilities. A college student with a bright, promising future may choose to experiment with heroin, now that she is away from home for the first time. She may suspect that casual use won’t really affect her life or education. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has found that there really is no way to predetermine who may or may not be subject to the disease of addiction, and our college student isn’t one of the lucky ones. She becomes addicted and eventually has to leave college. Her bright, promising future has turned into a bleak existence filled with a vicious cycle of drug use, regret, mental illness and more drug use to mask her disappointment in her life choices.

There are two ways her story can end. In the first ending, she refuses help and continues to use drugs. She faces criminal charges from time to time, and she has a difficult time holding a job, paying her rent, or paying fines and attorneys’ fees.

What she doesn’t understand is that there is help available for her, if she’ll only reach out and take an offered hand. Her parents know how to get her the help she needs, and they eventually convince her to try to stop using heroin and enter treatment.

Detox: The First Step to Recovery

Heroin can cause withdrawal symptoms that will vary based on certain conditions, including how much heroin an individual uses, how often, and for how long. Because heroin only stays in the system for less than one day, withdrawal symptoms can begin in as short a time as a few hours. Initially, the individual will begin to feel ill, as though they have the flu. He or she may have muscle cramps or bone pain, tremors or cold chills. These symptoms may gradually become worse as the compulsion to use drugs increases stress, which then exacerbates the symptoms. Most heroin detox periods last for only a few days, according the experts at the National Institute of Health.

Because detoxing from additive drugs is only the first stage of recovery and doesn’t constitute treatment, the recovering addict must continue with a full-scale treatment program in order to have the very best chances for success. The researchers at the NIDA have found that without an intensive treatment program, the chances are much greater that the user will return to using heroin.

Types of Treatment Available for Heroin Addiction

By the time a recovering addict leaves detox and begins the core of their treatment program, a simple drug test may not detect any traces of heroin or heroin metabolites. The cravings will remain for some time, and this is why treatment is so important.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Principles of Effective Treatment, there are several aspects to a solid recovery plan:

  • Treatment should be available when the drug user seeks help. By having treatment available immediately, the recovering addict can better withstand the cravings.
  • Treatment should last long enough to make a difference in the life of the recovering addict. There isn’t a magic number of days, weeks or months for addiction treatment.
  • Medications can help recovering addicts. When combined with therapy and counseling, some medications can help heroin addicts withstand the cravings and lingering withdrawal symptoms.
  • Coexisting mental disorders or illness should be simultaneously addressed during drug treatment. By addressing both the addiction and the co-occurring disorder, a treatment program can reduce the likelihood of relapse due to self-medication or other issues once treatment has ended.

Learn More

Our college student, having survived detox (although she wasn’t sure she would), has met with the staff of her treatment center. She has undergone a thorough assessment that found she not only suffers from heroin addiction, but she also has a major depression disorder. The treatment center immediately creates a treatment plan that consists of both evidence-based and holistic and spiritual aspects to help her recover from her addiction and change her life.

The heroin is out of her system, and active addiction is no longer a part of her life. She can’t go back to the beginning and change her mind about using heroin that first time, but she can take steps to find her way to the same destination. One of her goals after treatment is to go back to school. This time, she’ll concentrate on her studies and become the professional she always wanted to be.

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You don’t have to continue to struggle with heroin addiction. Get the help you need today; here at Axis, we can take your call at any time.