How Long Does a Heroin High Last?

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A heroin high can last up to 30 minutes, but is typically much shorter. If it is smoked or injected, you’ll experience a more intense high, but it’s shorter lived versus when heroin is snorted. Regardless, a heroin high does not provide long-lasting euphoria, which is how people get addicted. When you reach that euphoric state, you want to chase it again and again; therefore, ingesting more heroin at a higher rate. This cycle is what leads to dependency, then addiction, and long-lasting, damaging effects on the body and mind.

The high from heroin stems from when dopamine is released, but not recycled back to the original cell it came from. As a result, the stored amount of dopamine gives the sense of heightened joy or “high.” Heroin’s addictive nature makes can quickly lead anyone down a dangerous slope. It doesn’t matter if you’re a first-time user, recreational user, or have battled addiction for years, heroin is dangerous at any time, in any form. What is viewed as a reward does not match the inherent risk.

However, people have been and continue to use heroin at alarming rates. It has been used for centuries around the world, in various forms. And in modern America, it plays a large part in the opioid epidemic the country currently faces. This is due largely to patients who have been prescribed pain medication find themselves addicted to the drug in the form of morphine or other painkillers. Once addicted, they then seek the high from other sources like heroin and other street substances.

The rise of pain prescription addiction puts millions of people in danger. It has changed heroin from a drug typically categorized as being part of our country’s inner cities and has now infiltrated suburban areas as well. In short, heroin addiction can affect anyone.

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Side Effects of Heroin

Heroin changes the physiology of your body and mind, which means your body can feel like it has adapted to the drug. For longtime users, this means you won’t be able to feel the same euphoric feelings as before, unless you take more than when you first started. Initial side effects of heroin are feelings of clarity and focus. You may recognize someone who is high on heroin by the surge of energy they have and how fast they are talking and moving.

Over time, these feelings can change as the brain’s communications change. Continued heroin use may cause you to experience hallucinations, paranoia, and aggressive behavior. During a heroin high, your blood pressure and heart rate will increase significantly, and you may suffer from vomiting or nausea. Once the high has passed, you’ll feel a sudden switch to more depressed feelings. These side effects include anxiousness, insomnia, and an increased agitated state. Because of this, there is often the urgency to get back to the “high” of the drug, rather than stay in the low phase.

This cyclical event is how drug dependency occurs and it makes the likelihood of overdosing more extreme. Drug dependency causes you to want to reach the high faster and more often, which means taking more of the drug. When the body doesn’t have enough time to process heroin before receiving another dose, it can cause a body and/or mind malfunction.

The breakdown of any drug doesn’t happen immediately. A half-life is used to reference how long it takes for drug to be reduced by half in the bloodstream. For heroin, there is fairly short half-life of about 0.2-0.8 hours. It also depends on how fast your body metabolizes the drug, which can be affected by several things. Your age, weight, health, and history with drug use are all factors in how long heroin will break down and be cleared from your system.

Constantly feeding a heroin craving leads to addiction, at which point you no longer have control over whether or not you will use. The side effects of withdrawal will form and the addiction will guide your choices.
Health Risks Resulting from Heroin
In addition to the side effects experienced from using heroin, there are other health problems you face as well. Their symptoms may not be as readily apparent, but often become more serious over time. These types of health risks include damage to the heart, trouble sleeping, and diagnosis of mental health issues such as bipolar disorder or depression.

Heroin use also leads to blood-related diseases like HIV and hepatitis C due to shared, dirty needles to administer the drug. It can also easily cause infection, bruising, and pain as a result of injecting the drug. Heroin addiction sufferers may also face anorexia due to a decreased appetite, paranoia, and hallucinations.

There’s no way to know how heroin will affect you at any given time. The body can be unpredictable. Each experience with heroin may be slightly different. There may be times when you experience few side effects and other times, when you feel them all. It doesn’t make one situation less harmful than the other; it’s simply how your body reacts to the drug.

A one-time use can be just as damaging or put you at just as high of a risk as someone who has been using for months. Using heroin comes at the cost of endless health risks and the potential for overdose. The best prevention against addiction is abstinence. If you already suffer from addiction, treatment is available to help you reach and maintain sobriety.

Speak with a heroin treatment specialist today.
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Heroin Addiction Treatment

It can be challenging to realize an addiction as it’s happening. For those who have been prescribed pain medication, all you know is that you don’t want to feel hurt or discomfort. The addictive nature of heroin may already have taken over before you realize the true impact.

Heroin will change the way you act, think, and behave. Depending on the side effects, it may be obvious once an addiction has taken place. But, in other cases, it may take time to put together that a problem exists. Heroin use often leads to trouble at work, in relationships, and sometimes with the law. Heroin use may make you seem unrecognizable to yourself in the mirror and unsure of what next steps to take.

Fortunately, if you suffer from addiction or need help of any kind, there is treatment available for you. You can learn about your addiction and find ways to overcome it through coping strategies and other useful support tools to manage your sobriety on your own.

Treatment also provides a safe place for you to go through the detoxification process in the medical care of others. This process lasts several days and comes with pain and discomfort that can make it difficult to withstand alone. Without the help of a detox facility, you may face relapse and not continue to the next stage of rehabilitation. When the body has become addicted, to abruptly cut off the addiction can cause additional stress on the body. It’s highly recommended to go through detox under the supervision of professionals so your health can be consistently monitored along the way.

How to Choose Which Treatment Is Best for You

Once you’ve gone through detoxification, the next step is inpatient or outpatient care. Whether you are seeking treatment for yourself or if you are a family member doing research for a loved one, there are a few things to consider when choosing the right type of facility and care.

First, will inpatient or outpatient treatment likely be more successful in order to achieve sobriety? Inpatient care gives you the opportunity to step away from your current environment and focus on your sobriety without interruptions or possible temptations from outside influences. On the other hand, outpatient care gives you the chance to stay close to your family or built-in support system while you go through treatment.

Both types of care offer the same protocol of treatment, including one-on-one counseling, group therapy, addiction education classes, information on how to transition from rehab to the real world, and other useful tips and resources to help you along your journey.

Second, consider what type of environment is most suitable. Many inpatient treatment facilities are located in peaceful places in nature, which immediately provides a more ideal and calming environment to receive care. Chaos of any kind only adds stress to your treatment and if it can be avoided, it is beneficial for your physical and mental health.

Inpatient locations may still be in fairly close proximity to loved ones, if you are concerned with having your personal support close by. Or, the idea of temporarily moving away to somewhere new may be what you need for a fresh start. There are plenty of resources available that will help you make a decision that’s the right fit.

There are additional factors to consider as well, such as cost, program length, and other included benefits. However, the most important thing to consider is the quality of personalized care you will receive. Reviewing the benefits of both inpatient and outpatient care will give a general idea of what to expect while going through treatment and how to make it work best for you.

It’s important to receive what you need while you actively receive treatment, but also know what kind of resources are available to you post-rehab. Sobriety is an ongoing process and one that requires special attention regardless of the environment you’re part your in. One of the most impactful things you’ll learn in treatment is where your addiction stems from and how you will overcome it and maintain your sobriety.

Heroin Addiction FAQs

How long does it take to get addicted to heroin?

Not everyone who ingests heroin or opiates will automatically become addicted. However, these drugs are addictive by nature and can quickly cause a drug dependency that leads to addiction. There is no set number of dosages to measure by, but heroin use will eventually lead to addiction if continued for any length of time.

How long does it take to detox from heroin?

Typically speaking, the withdrawal process will last 5-7 days. However, this timeframe is determined by several factors, such as your current health, how fast your body metabolizes the drug, and how much heroin you have used. In the beginning, the withdrawal side effects will be at their most severe and then, will tend to taper off as the days go on. It is recommended to go through the detox process under the guidance of a treatment facility with medical professionals available.

What are signs I should look out for in someone who I think may be suffering from heroin abuse?

Changes in behavior are the most common ways of telling if someone is suffering from drug abuse. Often, they will experience extreme highs and lows; high energy and rapid talking when high on heroin and depressed feelings when they’re not. Also, have you noticed any drug paraphernalia in their home or car? Has their physical appearance changed drastically? If you are concerned for a loved one, you can talk with them about seeking help and/or request guidance from an intervention specialist who can walk you through some of the best ways to address the situation.

Is It Time for Treatment?

Heroin addiction affects hundreds of thousands of Americans every year. If you are suffering from this disease, there is help available for you. There is also help for those who are facing drug abuse or drug dependency. There is no “right” time to seek treatment. It could be when you feel yourself following a path that leads to addiction. It could be after years of fighting heroin abuse.

We are here to answer questions you may have about the entire process or learn more information about the treatment facilities available in your area. We want to support you in any way we can to achieve the sober living you need and the kind of life you deserve. Find out what you need to make the first step toward a new future, one that includes hope and strength, free of addiction.

Find hope. Find recovery. Begin a commitment to lifelong recovery today – for yourself, your friend, or for your loved one.
(888) 325-1995


National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). What Are the Long-term Effects of Heroin Use? Revised June 2018. Accessed April 5, 2018.

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). What Is Heroin? Revised June 2018, Accessed April 5, 2016.

NCBI. The Neurobiology of Opioid Dependence: Implications for Treatment. July 2002, Accessed June 6, 2016.

Better Health Channel. Heroin. Accessed June 6, 2016.

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