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Heroin Drug Testing

Depending on the type of heroin drug testing, heroin can be detected in the users system for up to 4 days after there last use. Urinalysis is the most frequently used and least expensive form of heroin drug testing used by employers, courts, schools, drug counselors and rehab centers today. The results are taken from your urine sample providing information and indication of recent heroin use. It is fast, accurate, and easy to perform.

During heroin drug testing, heroin breaks down into codeine and morphine. Codeine breaks down into morphine. The opiate drug tests look for codeine, morphine, and 6-acetyl-morphine. The presence of 6-acetyl-morphine is relatively conclusive of recent heroin use, but is only detectable for a few hours after use. The presence of codeine can be the result of either heroin or codeine use. The presence of morphine can be the result of the use of heroin, codeine, or morphine. Relative levels of codeine and morphine can help determine their origin.

Many opiates are detectable with hair tests (the same which are detectable in a urine test) and are included in the standard set of substances tested for by many companies. The standard hair screen takes the most recent 1.5 inches of growth and uses those for testing. That provides a detection period of approximately 90 days. If an individual's hair is shorter than 1.5 inches, the detection period will be shorter. In addition to hair tests for heroin drug testing, in the past few years new technologies have been developed which allow for saliva testing for the presence of opiates such as heroin.

There are five primary types of heroin drug testing: urine, blood, hair, saliva, and sweat. Heroin can be detected in the users blood for an unknown period of time, in the users saliva for an unknown period of time, in the users sweat for an unknown period of time, in the users urine for 2-4 days, and in the users hair for up to 90 days. There are several substances which can cause a false positive during heroin drug testing. These substances include: poppy seeds, Tylenol with codeine, most prescription pain medications, cough suppressants with Dextromethorphan (DXM), Nyquil, kidney infection, kidney disease, diabetes, liver disease, various quinolones and antibiotics.

Heroin Drug Testing: Urine Tests

  • Are the least expensive of the test methods ($7-$50 for home version).
  • Are considered an intrusive method of heroin drug testing.
  • Can be done at home (for example by parents) though require lab verification for accurate results.
  • Detect use primarily within the past week (longer with regular use).
  • Can be affected by abstaining from use for a period of time before the test.
  • Are often temperature tested to insure sample integrity.

Heroin Drug Testing: Saliva Tests

  • Are a little more expensive than urine heroin drug testing, but less than hair or blood. ($15-$75).
  • Are considered a relatively un-intrusive method of drug testing.
  • Are becoming more common.
  • Are easy to administer but require lab processing to ensure accuracy.
  • Detect use primarily within the past few days.
  • Can detect more recent use than other testing methods.
  • Have no nationally accepted standards or cutoff concentrations for detection, making results greatly dependent on the specific product purchased. This could also make results less-reliable and/or acceptable for legal cases.
  • More reliable for detection of meth and opiates, less reliable for marijuana.

Heroin Drug Testing: Hair Tests

  • Are currently several times more expensive than urine tests ($100-$150).
  • Are considered a relatively un-intrusive method of drug testing.
  • Detect substance use over a longer period.
  • Do not usually detect use within the past week.
  • Require a sample of hair about the diameter of a pencil and 1.5 inches long. They can not be done with a single hair.
  • Test positive a little more than twice as often as a urine test. In a recent study, out of 1823 paired hair and urine samples, 57 urine samples tested positive for drugs of abuse; while 124 hair samples from the same group tested positive.
  • Are not significantly affected by brief periods of abstinence from drugs.
  • Can sometimes be used to determine when use occurred and if it has been discontinued. Drugs, such as opiates (codeine, morphine, heroin) lay down on the hair shaft very tightly and are shown not to migrate along the shaft, thus, if a long segment of hair is available one can draw some "relative" conclusions about when the use occurred. However heroin, although very easy to detect, is able to migrate along the shaft; making it very difficult to determine when the drug was used and for how long.
  • Claims to be able to reliably differentiate between opiate and poppy seed use.
  • We've heard that many hair tests now check for more than the NIDA 5, and include at least Cannabis, Ecstasy/MDMA, Heroin, Opiates, Methamphetamine, Amphetamine, Phencyclidine (PCP), Benzodiazepines, & Barbiturates.

Heroin Drug Testing: Blood Tests

  • Are the most expensive method of testing.
  • Are considered the most intrusive method of heroin drug testing.
  • Are the most accurate method of testing.
  • Are the least common method of testing (most likely due to cost).

Heroin Drug Testing: Sweat (Patch) Tests

  • Are considered a relatively intrusive method of heroin drug testing because they require the wearing of a patch for an extended period of time.
  • Are still relatively uncommon.
  • Are controversial in terms of accuracy. There is some reason to believe that surface contamination (such as cannabis smoke) can cause a false reading.
  • Can detect use which would not trigger other tests. Because of the short detection period for many drugs in urine, single use of many drugs longer than a week prior to using the patch will not cause a positive urine test. Because the skin patches are gathering sweat over an extended period of time, it is possible that any use during that time will produce a positive result.  
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