How Long Does it Take to Detox from Heroin?

Heroin is an extremely potent opiate that strongly impacts the brain's reward system. Read to learn more about heroin detox.

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Heroin Detox and Withdrawal

Heroin use poses a high risk of addiction. For someone addicted, going even a few hours without taking heroin may result in a range of unpleasant physical, mental, and emotional symptoms known as heroin withdrawal symptoms.

Heroin Detox

What is Heroin Detox?

Detoxification is the part of the heroin recovery process involving getting off heroin, often alongside various medications and different addiction therapy programs.

Some people may decide to go cold turkey (detox of heroin from the body without medical interventions). However, the person may experience severe withdrawal symptoms, which can make abstinence a problem. This necessitates the need to detox with professional addiction treatment services.

Heroin Detox Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms of heroin are a result of heroin dependence, as the immediate psychological and physiological effects of heroin on the body lead people to misuse the drug.

Some symptoms of heroin detox include:

  • Restlessness
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Uncontrolled leg movements

Who Needs Detoxification for Heroin Abuse?

Everyone suffering from heroin addiction needs detox treatment to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay.
At a detox treatment center, the heroin detox timeline (the time taken to end the physiological dependence on heroin) is usually between 4 and 10 days. Other factors like length of use, mental health, age, and weight can affect the total timespan.

How Long is the Heroin Withdrawal Timeline?

Heroin withdrawal symptoms timeline may be distorted for long-term users. However, symptoms typically begin to appear as soon as 6 hours following the previous dose. This may last a week for the acute phase of the withdrawal.

Depending on the length and intensity of use, heroin addicts in recovery may suffer Post Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS), which can last for months to years.

What is the Heroin Withdrawal Timeline?

The symptoms begin on the first day and intensify within 48 hours. On the third or fourth day, the pain felt by the addict in recovery is usually at the crux. After a week following the last dose, the symptoms and pain begin to taper off. At this point, former users may begin to feel physically normal. This is the acute withdrawal stage.

After acute withdrawal, withdrawal symptoms may fluctuate over several months.

When Does Heroin Withdrawal Start?

Heroin withdrawal typically starts within 24 hours from the last dose. The withdrawal usually hits hardest in the first couple of days. However, the length and symptoms of withdrawal differ from person to person.1

This should not deter you from seeking treatment because detox from heroin can be done in a safe and comfortable environment while efficiently managing the withdrawal symptoms.

How to Manage Heroin Detox and Withdrawal

Heroin withdrawal can be manageable in some cases, but in others, it can be severe and even life-threatening. First, it is highly recommended that you visit an established and reputable detox center for heroin detox to manage the withdrawal symptoms safely.

The severity of the symptoms of heroin withdrawal is a reason why you should not attempt heroin detox at home. Instead, contact a medical professional or look for a rehab facility. In addition to seeking help from professionals, you must try to maintain a positive mindset, eat healthy meals, engage in yoga or light exercises, practice journaling and reading, and stay hydrated.

Factors Impacting Length of Withdrawal

Several factors affect how long heroin withdrawal takes. Among the most significant are:

  • Length of time the user abused heroin
  • Amount of heroin they took each time
  • How frequently they used heroin
  • Method by which they took heroin
  • Presence of underlying medical or mental health issues

Medications Used in Heroin Detox

Heroin is an opioid, and withdrawal from opioids is a life-threatening condition. To manage this condition, a pharmacologic approach is needed.2

Three medications are typically used in the heroin detox process.3 They will be detailed below.


Methadone is a long-acting full opioid agonist approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat opioids, including heroin. It reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms during the heroin detox process and blocks the effects of heroin to help patients abstain from using.

Methadone must be received under the supervision of a medical practitioner.4


Buprenorphine has unique pharmacological features that increase safety in overdose cases, reduce the likelihood of abuse, and lessen the effects of physical dependence on heroin, such as cravings and withdrawal symptoms.5


Naltrexone is not addictive, and it is not an opioid. Although the drug does not alleviate heroin withdrawal symptoms, it is frequently used to lessen cravings in people who still experience them despite receiving treatment.6

How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?

The rate at which heroin leaves the body influences how long it takes for it to be undetectable in different drug tests. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved heroin drug tests for the blood, saliva, urine, and hair follicle. Heroin lingers on each of these for varying lengths of time.

It’s also worth noting that heroin stays in the systems of long-term, heavy users for far longer. This is due to the medication being kept in fatty tissues, which take far longer to be eliminated compared to drugs that are only in the blood and other body fluids.

How Long Does Heroin Last?

The half-life of heroin is roughly three to six minutes, which is incredibly short. Within this timeframe, heroin is broken down into morphine and 6-acetyl morphine.

Due to how quickly heroin is metabolized, these two compounds are more frequently found in drug tests than heroin itself. The half-life of morphine is two to seven hours, while that of 6-acetyl morphine is 25 minutes. It takes several half-lives for a medication to be eliminated from the body.7

Heroin in Your Blood, Urine, Hair, & Saliva

Here’s a timeframe of how long heroin lasts in your blood, urine, hair, and saliva:

  • Blood: 5-6 hours
  • Urine: 3 days
  • Saliva: Up to 24 hours
  • Hair: 3 months or more

If you were thinking of getting heroin out of your system fast, you may have to wait over 3 months, since there might still be traces in your hair follicle.

Heroin Detox

Finding Treatment For Heroin Addiction At Soledad House

It is best to detox from heroin at a detox addiction treatment center to get medical supervision and the required care from licensed health professionals. The major objective of a medical detoxification program is to keep you safe and secure throughout the process.

Therapy After Detox

Finishing heroin detox treatment means waking up with little to no withdrawal symptoms. However, you still have to treat the psychological addiction. This is essential for a full recovery.

In addition to using drugs to get off heroin, you will need to participate in different treatment therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy to help you maintain your recovery. This will help you develop a healthy and positive lifestyle to maintain recovery and prevent relapse.

Why Soledad House?

Thinking of going through the pain of withdrawal symptoms to recover from heroin addiction might discourage you from taking the first step. But you don’t have to worry about this at Soledad House. We have capable hands that can provide the medical care, love, and support you need to go through heroin detox, withdrawal, and recovery.

Take the bold step and get heroin withdrawal help today at Soledad House.