How Long Does a High Last?

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The high of illicit drugs such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine vary depending on the type of drug, how it’s ingested, and your history of use with the drug. A high occurs when dopamine is released in the brain, but not recycled, which results in excessive amounts being stored. This chemical disruption affects the brain’s functioning and causes the intense, but temporary feelings of euphoria. So how long are you high for? Drug highs are short-lived yet addictive.

The feeling is so heightened that those who consume and use drugs want to achieve the high as many times as possible, as quickly as possible. This often results in accidental overdoses because the body doesn’t have enough time to metabolize the drug. If overdose doesn’t occur, drug addiction will. Not every drug will produce the exact same high, but there are many similarities in terms of half-life and the universal power of addiction.

Heroin High and Half-Life

The half-life of a drug references how long it takes for it to be reduced by half in the body. Heroin, as an example, has a fairly short half-life of approximately 0.2-0.8 hours. This is significantly lower than many other opiates. Despite this small amount of time, heroin may still be detectable in the system for up to 72 hours after the last use.

For anyone who suffers from heroin dependency or addiction, it can be detected up to a week in the system by a urine test. Hair or saliva samples can show traces of it for even longer periods of time, though may not always have the accuracy of a urinalysis.

The statistics of a half-life vary slightly because of the multiple factors that affect metabolization. Age, weight, and state of health all determine how long heroin will remain in the system and allow you to achieve the high. The way heroin is ingested also affects the intensity and length of time of a high. Smoking or injecting heroin allows the drug to directly enter the bloodstream, which results in a more intense high. Snorting heroin on the other hand doesn’t reach the same magnitude, but the feeling lasts longer, sometimes up to a half hour. The high, in any form, is short in comparison to the long-lasting effects heroin has on the body.

Crystal Meth High and Half-Life

Crystal meth is a stimulant, which means it may make you feel invincible. A high from crystal meth may last several hours where you feel full of energy, more confident, and euphoric. This feeling of joy is manufactured and is only temporary. What’s worse is that when the high is over, the withdrawal phase introduces uncomfortable and painful side effects to deal with as a result.

Methamphetamine has a half life of 12 hours. Within a day, the drug will likely have passed through your system completely. The highest highs are followed by the lowest lows, which disrupts your brain’s functioning and leaves you wanting more. This cycle also is what leads to drug overdoses. When your body takes on more than it can handle, it shuts down and causes severely adverse side effects, including the risk of seizures, coma, and potentially death.

Cocaine High and Half-Life

Like heroin and crystal meth, cocaine is also a powerfully addictive drug. This stimulant produces feelings of euphoria with a short-lived high of 5-10 minutes. This is when the drug is injected or inhaled. Snorting cocaine releases a high that may last up to a half hour.

Five to ten minutes is hardly any time at all, especially for someone who is dependent on drugs. This temporary but addictive part of cocaine entices leads to drug binges or ingesting more and more of the drug in shorter and shorter periods of time. This behavior quickly encourages drug dependency, which can just as quickly turn into full on addiction.

The drug itself can remain in the system for up to 72 hours and sometimes longer with chronic use. A urine test can detect cocaine in the system for up to a week for those who are addicted. Cocaine can be detected by a blood test for up to 48 hours and up to several weeks by saliva or hair samples.

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The Power of Drug Addiction

Anyone is susceptible to drug addiction. What once was assumed as a larger problem in inner-city neighborhoods has expanded to suburban areas and affects people regardless of age, gender, race, or past history with drug use. Many people who become addicted to drugs, such as heroin, first struggled with addiction to prescribed pain medication.

The opioid epidemic in America continues to infiltrate more communities. It has caused people who are truly in pain suffer from addiction in an attempt to alleviate their symptoms. Even when prescribed legally by a doctor, these types of drugs are still addictive and must be used per the recommended dosages.

When dopamine is stored in the brain due to drug use involving heroin or cocaine, it changes the physiology of the brain. It affects how you think, feel, and act. The body becomes used to this “new normal” and thinks it needs the drug to function as usual. From there, it becomes easier to form habits or start to self-medicate. This leads to drug dependency, which ultimately, turns into addiction.

The high from stimulants like cocaine allows people to feel hyper-focused with what is perceived as mental clarity. You may talk faster, have more energy, and feel extra alert. However, as a result, drug use also results in side effects like vomiting, nausea, anxiousness, aggressiveness, or paranoia.

The subsequent withdrawal from drugs includes side effects like insomnia, lack of appetite, and depression. These drastic highs and lows are hard on the body physically and mentally. The craving to get back to the high point becomes too overwhelming, which leads to the vicious cycle of addiction.

Battling Drug Addiction with Treatment

The cycle may seem never-ending, but there is help. Detox and rehabilitation treatment is your opportunity to set a more positive path for your future. It’s your chance to stop the cycle. Addiction will only continue to progressively harm your body and mind unless you seek help.

The first phase of treatment is drug withdrawal, which is the beginning of detoxification. This usually takes up to a week to complete. The side effects are painful, and the cravings are strong. However, with the right kind of help to guide you, it’s achievable. It will take time for your body to begin readjusting to life without addiction.

In these first few days, the side effects are their most intense. Relapse is common during this time, especially if you are trying to detox alone. The best option is to seek treatment in a rehab facility, a place that can carefully monitor your health and well-being. You will receive the medical attention and emotional support necessary to get through the detox phase.

Once you have completed detox, inpatient or outpatient care follows. Most people start with inpatient care. This option allows you to fully concentrate on your health and sobriety, free of distraction and temptations. It is during this time that you’ll learn about the causes of your addiction. You’ll start healing once you identify the root of the problem and learning ways to overcome it. The goal is to reach sobriety but also to sustain it after treatment is complete.

Outpatient care may follow your temporary stay in an inpatient facility. It can help you as you transition back to your daily life. In some cases, people choose outpatient care only. This may be due to previous rehab history or the strength of a support system at home. Both types of treatment include many of the same protocols including therapy, both individual and group sessions, education about addiction, and coping skills and activities that will help you learn to sustain a sober lifestyle.

Though the process is similar for every person who enters rehab, the program is customized for you. It is based on your pace, your health, and the decisions you make about your sobriety and future.
Breaking Free from Addiction
Addiction is powerful. The highs you feel when dependent on drugs distorts reality. The reality is that addiction to any drug has major, negative consequences on your health for the long-term. It can cause irreversible damage and create problems in other areas of your life.

Today you can decide not to be a prisoner to your addiction for a day longer. There is treatment and support available ready to help you get started on your recovery journey. You deserve a sober, healthy, and happy life. We’re are here when you’re ready.

Find hope. Find recovery. Begin a commitment to lifelong recovery today – for yourself, your friend, or for your loved one.
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Addiction BLog. How Long Does Marijuana Last? July 2014, Accessed February 13, 2016.

High Times. How Long Does a Weed High Last? Revised June 2018. Accessed February 13, 2016.

Weed Effects. How Long Does Weed Last? How Long Marijuana High Last? Revised June 2018, Accessed February 12, 2016.

Herb. How Long Do The Effects Of Being High On Weed Last? February. 2017, Accessed February 14, 2016.

Alternate. Cannabis 101: How Long Does A Marijuana High Last? Revised. Feb. 2018, Accessed February 13, 2016.

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