How Long Does A Heroin High Last? Effects & Comedown

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on March 22, 2023

People who use heroin will experience an intense high feeling that can last for hours. Afterward, there will be a crash period that may include uncomfortable physical and psychological symptoms.

How Long Is A Heroin High?

Heroin is a highly addictive substance that is derived from the opium poppy flower found in Asia. Heroin abuse leads to an intense, pleasurable high for hours.

The length of a drug high is influenced by a number of factors including method of abuse, overall health, type of heroin, and more.

How Long Heroin Lasts

Heroin can be used in a number of ways. Methods of drug abuse include intravenous injection, snorting, and smoking the drug.

When heroin enters the body and binds to the brain’s opioid receptors, it quickly produces feelings of intense pleasure, satisfaction, and painlessness.

The euphoric heroin high is a short-term effect. It usually begins about 30 minutes after it’s administered and may last three to five hours depending on several factors.

Factors That Affect The Length Of A Heroin High

There are many factors that contribute to how long a heroin high lasts including the type of heroin used and the method of administration.

Type Of Heroin

Heroin comes in liquid form, powder form, and a sticky tar-like substance called black tar heroin.

The purest form of heroin is known as China white heroin. This formulation is oftentimes cut with the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl, and the high can last for several hours.

Heroin cutting agents are often used during the manufacturing process. This may dilute the drug’s purity and affect the high’s overall intensity and length.

Method Of Administration

There are several ways to use heroin, depending on its form. Intravenously injecting heroin with a needle is the most common method of abuse because it provides an instant and intense high.

Other ways to use heroin include:

The longest high will be achieved when the drug is smoked or injected; whereas, the high from sniffing heroin may not last longer than two hours.

Polysubstance Abuse

When heroin is combined with other substances such as cocaine, alcohol, marijuana, or other prescription medications it can affect the duration of the high.

For example, mixing heroin and alcohol, while very dangerous, may extend the duration of the high as both are considered central nervous system depressants.

Other Contributing Factors

Below are some additional factors that may influence the amount of time heroin stays in the body.

Influencing factors include:

  • amount of heroin taken
  • tolerance level
  • height and weight
  • age
  • genetic factors
  • liver and kidney health
  • hydration level

Effects Of A Heroin High

Opiate or opioid drugs, such as heroin, can produce physical, mental, and behavioral side effects when abused over time.

Effects Of A Heroin High

The immediate physical effects of heroin will include nausea, a drop in heart rate, slowed breathing, dry mouth, drowsiness, constipation, pain relief, and feelings of euphoria.

Over the long term, heroin abuse may lead to sexual dysfunction, liver and kidney disease, heart infections, insomnia, irregular menstrual cycle, and more.

Effects Of A Heroin High On The Brain

When heroin enters the brain it binds to opioid receptors responsible for sensations of pleasure. Opioid drug abuse alters the limbic system, which can reinforce drug-taking behavior.

Similar to other opioids, heroin use will change neurochemical activity in the brain stem, which affects subconscious bodily functions like breathing and heart rate.

Heroin’s neurological effects can alter decision-making skills, mood, and stress response.

Long-Term Effects Of Chasing A Heroin High

Over time, chronic heroin use will almost certainly lead to physical dependence and heroin addiction.

Heroin abuse is extremely dangerous and may lead to many harmful consequences for a person in the throes of addiction.

Dangers of long-term heroin use include:

  • brain damage
  • infertility
  • decreased sex drive and erectile dysfunction
  • collapsed veins
  • skin abscesses
  • incarceration
  • increased risk of bloodborne diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis
  • life-threatening heroin overdose
  • development of mental health disorders

Symptoms Of Heroin Comedown

Heroin comedown, also known as a heroin crash, occurs when the amount of heroin in the body starts to diminish to the point where people will feel a range of unpleasant symptoms.

The comedown will begin around five or six hours after the drug was last used, and may continue up to a week depending on the severity of a person’s withdrawal.

Heroin withdrawal symptoms may include muscle aches, nausea and vomiting, intense cravings, depression, hallucinations, insomnia, and severe abdominal pain.

Treatment Programs For Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction is difficult with a high risk of overdose, but help is available in the form of evidence-based or holistic treatment at a drug rehab center.

Treatment services may include:

  • medication-assisted treatment (MAT) using methadone or buprenorphine
  • medical detox
  • dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring disorders
  • behavioral therapy for substance use disorders
  • aftercare

Find Heroin Substance Abuse Treatment Today

If you or a loved one are in need of a heroin addiction treatment center, call our helpline today. Our team can assist you in your journey to long-term sobriety.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on March 22, 2023
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