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How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?

How long does meth stay in your system? Read on to find out more about how meth affects the body.

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What is Meth?

Methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth, crank, or ice, is a potent and highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It is known for its rapid action and gives a similar high to cocaine. Due to its addictive nature, meth has become the second most popular illicit drug used, only second to marijuana (which is still restricted at the federal level).1

Meth is a white, bitter-tasting, odorless crystalline powder that can be easily dissolved in alcohol or water or made into pills and crystals. The pills are sometimes called yaba, and the crystals are called ice or crystal meth.

Meth Consumption

Depending on its form, meth can be ingested orally, injected, dissolved, or snorted. As soon as meth is used, it creates a rapid secretion of dopamine, making the user feel a surge of pleasure and increased activity. This makes the user crave the feeling again. Because it is so powerful, a small amount of methamphetamine can result in dependence and addiction, leading to severe short-term and long-term health issues.

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Drug Classification

Methamphetamine belongs to the class of stimulants and is a Schedule II drug. This means meth has a high potential for misuse and is currently accepted only for medical use in FDA-approved products. 

If you have meth yourself or are selling it, the consequences can lead to imprisonment or a large fine.

Short-Term Effects of Methamphetamine

The effects of methamphetamine can last for many hours, and it can take up to four days for the substance to completely leave the body. The short-term effects of methamphetamine include:
  • Rapid breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increases heart rate
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Elevated body temperature and blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils
  • Fatigue
  • Increase energy, alertness, and wakefulness.

Long-Term Effects of Methamphetamine

The long-term effects of methamphetamine include:
  • Anxiety
  • Dental issues (meth mouth)
  • Itching and skin soreness
  • Insomnia or sleep disorders
  • Hallucinations
  • Memory loss or changes in brain function
  • Weight loss
  • Violent behavior

The long-term effects of meth may last for months or years after the individual quits.

Is Meth Addictive?

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), meth is highly addictive and affects the body’s central nervous system. This can lead to various meth side effects, including convulsions, headache, stomach pain, confusion, chest pain, and difficulty breathing.2

Statistics on Methamphetamine Abuse

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in a 2018 study, the rate of overdose involving meth and other stimulants has significantly increased and is bound to increase still.3
From 2015 to 2018, an estimated two million adults age 18 and over reported meth use within the past year, with 52.9% having a meth use disorder.4

Signs and Symptoms of Meth Addiction

The constant use of meth can lead to addiction. The symptoms of meth addiction to look out for include:
  • Cravings
  • Problems controlling behavior
  • Trying to stop usage but failing
  • Showing signs of poor physical hygiene
  • Anxiety
  • Symptoms of paranoia
  • Constantly talking
  • Picking skin or pulling hair
  • Sudden and severe depression

Signs and Symptoms of Meth Overdose

Using a large amount of meth or taking meth that has been mixed or “cut” with another substance may lead to an overdose. Signs and symptoms of meth overdose may include:
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Heart attack
  • Exceedingly high body temperature
  • Kidney failure or damage
  • Irregular heartbeat

If a person is experiencing any of the symptoms, immediate medical attention is needed.

How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?

Because meth can be made in different forms, the question “how long does meth stay in your system?” depends on various factors, one of which is the purity of the meth. Crystal meth, a more purified and potent form of meth, produces a long-lasting high and can stay in the system longer than other forms of meth.

How Long Does the Meth High Last?

Many people who use meth, regardless of if they ingest, snort, or smoke it, say that the high is strong but does not last very long. This can also lead to addiction more readily, as people take more of it to keep experiencing that high. How long a meth high lasts depends on the dosage used.

What Is the Half-Life of Meth?

How long does meth stay in your system? The half-life of meth is approximately 10-24 hours. This means that after this time, the amount of meth in the blood would have been reduced by half and removed from the bloodstream. The half-life of methamphetamine will vary for each person, depending on their metabolism.

Factors That Affect Detection Time

Various factors affect the detection time of methamphetamine and the body’s ability to process the substance. These factors include:

  • Age
  • Overall health
  • Frequency of use
  • How the drug was taken (smoking, snorting, or ingesting)
  • Metabolic rate
  • Genetics
  • Other substances

These factors can affect the detection of meth in a drug test.

Detecting Meth in Drug Tests

Various tests are used to detect meth in the body and how long it has been in the system. These tests will be detailed below.

Urine

Conducting urine tests is the most common way to detect the drug in the system. This is because it is quick, cheap, non-invasive, and creates an easy testing process. 
With urine tests, methamphetamine can be detected between one to five days after the last use. For heavy use, meth can be detected up to seven days after the last use.

Blood

Testing for meth via a blood test is rare and less common because it is more challenging to administer and is generally only used in emergencies and for diagnostic purposes. With a blood test, methamphetamine can be detected between one to three days after the last use. If crystal meth is snorted, smoked, or ingested, it will be immediately detected in the blood.

Saliva

Saliva testing is another way to detect meth. This is done by swabbing the inside of the mouth or tongue with absorbent material. They are quick and easy to perform and produce a good detection window.

With a saliva test, methamphetamine can be detected for up to two days after the last use.

Hair

Hair testing for a drug is one of the best ways to detect drugs over a long period. This is due to the hair follicles. Even if the hair has been cut off, washed, or dyed, since the follicles have absorbed nutrients from the bloodstream, meth can still be detected.
Therefore, with a hair test, meth can be detected in the hair follicles for up to 90 days after the last use.

False Positive Testing

Using false positives is more common than you may think because the molecular structure of meth is simple. Therefore, during a meth drug test, a molecule having a similar shape may be detected, leading to false positives. False positives can be due to medications such as:
  • Antidepressants
  • Allergy medications
  • DMAA
  • Decongestants
  • Phentermine
When the test returns positive, the person will be asked if they took other medication, thereby ruling out the false positive test.

Meth Withdrawal Symptoms

There are many symptoms of meth withdrawal that vary depending on your genetics, how long you’ve been using the substance, and how much meth that you used each time. For some people, if they use other substances at the same time, the withdrawal process can be longer, as the body has to rid itself of multiple drugs or alcohol.

Some symptoms of meth withdrawal include:

    • Achy muscles
    • Agitation
    • Depression
    • Drug craving
    • Fatigue
    • Increased appetite
    • Inability to experience pleasure
    • Need for sleep
    • Hallucinations 
    • Paranoia
    • Psychosis
    • Suicidal thoughts

Implications of Withdrawal

Some symptoms of meth withdrawal can last for up to one to two weeks, and some can increase intensely over the first few days or fluctuate over several weeks. It can be dangerous to undergo withdrawal alone, so it’s important to look into a rehab facility in order to have access to medical care if you may need it. Clinics or hospitals often have doctors or nurses readily available.

How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System

Meth Addiction Treatment

Getting medical treatment for meth addiction is the best way a person can recover and help get their life back on track. Addiction treatment will often entail:5

Detox

Detoxing is essential to methamphetamine addiction treatment because it makes the meth withdrawal process safer and more comfortable. Patients will be surrounded by constant support and the ability to manage withdrawal symptoms.

Inpatient Care

Inpatient care is an intensive treatment program that takes place in a residential treatment center. With inpatient care treatment, patients are provided with 24/7 care that is structured and comprehensive. They have access to a safe and substance-free environment and professional medical monitoring.

Outpatient Care

Outpatient care is a less intensive treatment program that takes place outside the treatment center, and the treatment session is based on the patient’s schedule. This treatment program is best for people who have a high determination to recover but cannot leave their jobs, families, or other responsibilities.

Therapies

The most effective treatment for methamphetamine addiction is therapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy or dialectical behavioral therapy.

Reach Out to San Diego Detox to Begin Healing

If you or a loved one are experiencing substance addiction, it is important to know that you are not alone. At San Diego Detox, we will equip you with the necessary tools and techniques to establish and maintain sustainable wellness and sobriety. Reach out today to begin healing, taking the first and most important step to leading the fulfilling life you deserve.