If you've used heroin lately, you may wonder if you're at risk of failing a drug test. This can have serious consequences for your career or even your freedom, even if you just experimented with it or took it unwittingly. So, what are the chances of failing a drug test? How long does heroin stay in your system? What can you do before a drug test? You'll find the answers below.
Heroin and drug tests
The most basic drug tests usually have five panels to test for different groups of drugs, namely amphetamines, PCP, THC, cocaine, and opiates. The opiates panel tests for the presence of morphine, which heroin metabolizes into. This means that even the most basic drug tests will detect heroin use, although they do not indicate heroin specifically. For example, it could just have easily been opium, morphine, or codeine that you took.
There have also been cases of foods with poppy seeds triggering false positives, although this is less common with the new higher testing threshold.
In short, using heroin can cause you to fail a drug test. The only question is for how long.
How long does heroin stay in your system?
The answer to this largely depends on the drug test you need to take, so we'll address each individually.
Urine drug tests
Drug testing through urine is very common, yet many people regard it as a huge invasion of privacy. This is especially true these days, as you may be watched while giving your sample.
Once you give a sample, a technician will test its temperature and probably make a visual inspection to check for anything suspicious. If everything looks okay, the sample will then be tested with a simple EMIT screening device. These provide results quickly, but they can be inaccurate, so any positive result needs to be confirmed with a more thorough, and expensive, GC-MS analysis.
Generally speaking, you can fail a urine drug screening for up to four days after last using heroin. Even if it's been four or five days, it may be wise to use a detox drink a couple of hours before your expected test time.
Mouth swab drug tests
Some employers find mouth swab drug tests more convenient because they can be performed onsite and are less controversial than urine drug tests. These involve rubbing a swab around the interior of your mouth to collect saliva, which can then be tested with a single-use device.
These tests can vary in terms of sensitivity, but it's thought that you can fail one for up to three days after last using heroin. If you feel you're going to fail, it may be a good idea to use a detox mouthwash just before going to your test.
Hair drug tests
Hair drug tests are perhaps the greatest danger because of the 90-day detection period. On the plus side, they are unlikely to detect a single use, although this is not guaranteed. Fortunately there are special detox shampoos that can remove the telltale metabolites from your hair.