Drug and Alcohol

Meth Abuse: How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?

How long does meth stay in your system? Many factors determine how long meth abuse affects your system. Learn more about meth abuse in our blog!

Meth Abuse: How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

February 21, 2023

The Edge Treatment Center

By the Numbers:

Over time, meth abuse results in cognitive impairment, hostility, drug-induced outbursts, and serious oral infections. As stated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Meth is classified as a Schedule II substance in the U.S. and in 2021, around 2.5 million persons aged 12 and up reported taking Meth in the previous year. In addition, 0.2% of eighth-grade students, 0.3% of tenth-graders, and 0.5% of 12th-grade students admitted to consuming Meth in the previous year in 2022.

Methamphetamine is an extremely powerful stimulant with dangerous potential health risks.

As far as answering the question in the title of this blog, Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) has said that methamphetamine produces long-lasting impacts, with some examinations detecting it up to three months after consumption.

Meth is highly addictive and is infamous for both its effects and the behavior it causes in users. Meth is also known by multiple street names: ice, crystal meth, and more. Addiction can happen very quickly with meth as well, making it a very dangerous drug to abuse.

This blog looks at methamphetamine abuse and how long the substance can stay in the system. Individuals seeking treatment and guidance related to methamphetamine and its abuse must read carefully to fully understand the negative impacts of this drug with its treatment solutions.

What is Meth?

Methamphetamine, or meth, is a very powerful stimulant that directly impacts the brain and spinal cord. Several street names exist for this drug, such as crystal meth, dunk, wash, cookies, speed, rocket fuel, shabu, and many more. It is a lethal and highly compulsive substance that can initiate severe short-term and long-term repercussions both mentally and physically.

Meth abuse has even caused environmental issues.

Furthermore, because meth is so potent, relatively tiny quantities may rapidly lead to physical reliance and addiction. Initially, producers created meth using amphetamine in sinus decongestants and pulmonary nasal sprays. According to the FDA, there is currently only a single authorized methamphetamine medication, Desoxyn. However, in rare cases, physicians might recommend it to aid with weight reduction or even to manage symptoms associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Methamphetamine is often produced in squalid labs from over-the-counter medicines and extremely toxic ingredients. The most popular way involves the administration of amphetamine or ephedrine, which are prominent ingredients in ADHD medications and cough medicines. Making methamphetamine is particularly risky due to the toxic gases the substances utilized. They have the potential to cause accidents and ignite. The resulting material is a white powder with no smell. Crystal meth looks like little glass fragments or bluish-white boulders.

How Long Do Meth Effects Last?

Methamphetamine is often snorted, injected, or smoked using a glass pipe. Each of these ways rapidly delivers meth to the brain. This results in an intense high. Rather than a powerful surge, the substance may also be consumed orally or inhaled via the nostrils, providing a long-lasting pleasure, generally accompanied by more physical activity, that can continue for up to half per day.

Unlike cocaine, which is swiftly eliminated and almost entirely digested in the system, methamphetamine retains its effects for many long periods, essentially untouched by the body's metabolism, resulting in sustained intoxicating effects. Meth's impacts might range from 8 to 24 hours, based on the amount of meth consumed, when meth was taken, the way it was supplied (Intravenous, orally, etc.), how effectively the liver and renal systems operate, and the person's hormonal balance.

So, how long does meth stay active? The half-life of methamphetamine is 9-24 hours. This suggests that it requires 9-24 hours to lower the quantity of methamphetamine in an individual's blood by 50%.

Usage Patterns of Meth

How meth is consumed clearly relates to how rapidly the substance's impacts are experienced. Crystal meth can be utilized in various methods, and it normally takes multiple days for the substance to leave the body.

Methamphetamine's effects can linger for several hours, and it could take as long as four days for the substance to depart the body entirely. Crystal meth has a half-life of ten hours, meaning it takes ten hours for 50% of the substance to leave the body.

Traces of meth can be detected in drug screening for several days following consumption. Different drug testing methods can detect meth for longer or shorter periods of time. A positive urine sample, for instance, can occur up to four days after just a single usage, while a positive scalp exam can occur up to three months afterward.

Crystal meth can be consumed in a "disordered eating" fashion. This implies that the euphoric aspects of meth begin to fade off shortly after the substance is completely digested; thus, users may try to sustain their pleasure by consuming further. In addition, a "race" is defined as using the medication over many weeks and remaining alert the entire time, which causes some individuals to disregard the necessity to feed, drink, relax, or preserve cleanliness throughout that time.

Individuals routinely combine meth with several other chemicals, which might change the ramifications of meth on the system and the way someone feels. For example, individuals might combine liquor and meth as a way to come down after a prolonged high. Furthermore, drinking hinders meth digestion; therefore, it takes more time for meth to exit the body if a person consumes alcohol.

Crystal meth may also be combined with specific other agonists such as coke or Ecstasy. While indulging in chemsex (also known as "party & play"), users might connect it along with opioids, including morphine, or with additional substances, including hydrocodone, stimulants, or amphetamine. When meth is combined with other medications, the consequences for the body can be erratic (and occasionally hazardous). For example, they might extend the duration of the drug to eliminate it from the body. 

The dangers of meth abuse: What you need to know
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How Long Does Meth Stay in your System?

According to the National Library of Medicine (NIH), urine testing can identify methamphetamine for as long as 72 hours after the previous intake. Methamphetamine digests to amphetamine; therefore, a medical test will most probably announce both compounds. The screening period for amphetamine-type drugs in urination is usually three to five days following the last dosage. This gap could be prolonged in severe, long-term users; it might be detectable in urine lasting up to one week.

Methamphetamine usage can also be revealed via testing on the scalp, plasma, and salivary fluids. For identifying current intake, plasma, and oral fluid tests might be more informative and reliable than urine testing; nevertheless, each has low recognition gaps than urine testing. A scalp assessment is used to determine the presence of meth for up to ninety days following the last usage, based on the kind of hair sample utilized. It is ordinarily employed for forensics or scientific inquiry screening and is not intended for medical or occupational evaluation.

Crystal meth is a hazardous substance. Any meth addiction should be addressed as quickly as possible. It might be challenging to return from a meth habit, but the quicker an individual receives therapy, the simpler it will become.

How Does Meth Get Absorbed by the Body?

Meth enters the circulatory system after ingestion or smoking and swiftly goes to the brain, airways, stomach, and adrenal glands. Methamphetamine is a water-soluble drug that quickly crosses cellular membranes. This permits it to pass the blood-brain boundary and penetrate the brain quickly. Methamphetamine is metabolized and eliminated by the kidneys and the liver.

An enzyme known as cytochrome P450 2D6 within the liver converts it into two significant chemical compounds: para-hydroxy methamphetamine (pOH-MA) and amphetamine (AMP), according to the NIH. The kidneys subsequently eliminate such compounds from the bloodstream and excrete them via the urine.

How Long Does Meth Remain in the Body?

This is a question without any easy answers. Many factors determine how long a particular substance stays in a person’s system – weight, gender, age, history of drug use, and more all determine this. Two of the ways meth is used – snorting and injection – cause meth to reach the brain extremely quickly.

Meth is a very powerful stimulant, and its effects last anywhere from eight hours to a day.

The Half-Life of Meth

A key factor in determining how long meth stays in the system is its half-life. This is the amount of time it takes the body to metabolize half of a dose of meth. For most, methamphetamine has a half-life between nine to 24 hours.

What is the half life of Meth. This image describes the half life of Meth
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How Long Can Meth Be Detected in the System?

Various drug tests can detect meth in the system for varying lengths of time. Here’s a short guide on how long drug tests can detect meth:

How long does Meth stay in your system? This chart shows how long Meth stays in urine, saliva, blood, and hair

Blood Test for Meth

Meth can be detected in the blood for up to 72 hours in a blood drug test. For heavy users, meth can be detected for up to a week or longer since it was last used.

Hair Test for Meth

A hair drug test can detect meth in the system for up to three months after it was last used.

Saliva Test for Meth

Swab drug tests for meth are being used more and more. While popular, they’re also invasive and can detect meth for only a short time after it was last used. A saliva test or a sweat test can detect meth for one or two days after it was last used. It’s worth pointing out some studies have shown meth is detectable in saliva and sweat for four or five days after it was last used.

Urine Test for Meth

A urine drug test can detect meth for up to five days after it was last used.

Consequences and Hazards of Meth Abuse

Methamphetamine is very compulsive, and physicians link its consumption to life-threatening dangers. According to NIDA, such risks rise with the quantity and length of meth abuse. 

The following are a few of the short-term consequences of meth abuse:

  • Elevated pulse rate and blood count 

  • High fever

  • Enhanced focus, stamina, and attentiveness

  • Loss of hunger and lethargy

  • Enlarged pupils

Meth usage can trigger anxiety, psychosis, seizures, and nightmares over time. Long-term consequences of meth abuse involve:

  • Serious dental issues (known as "meth mouth")

  • Substantial reduction in weight

  • Blisters on the skin

  • Insomnia

  • Problems in cognition, especially memory impairment

  • Resistance and dependence

Meth abuse usage could also result in psychotic symptoms like:

  • Delusions and night terrors, both visual and audible

  • Illusions, including the notion that bugs slither beneath the skin

  • Persecutory apprehension and thoughts

Through the exchange of injectable tools, methamphetamine consumption is also related to a higher likelihood of contracting viral hepatitis or AIDS/HIV. Methamphetamine can be extremely harmful to the human body, mainly when it is used regularly and over extended periods. Several of these symptoms can be reversed by discontinuing or lowering meth abuse, whereas others are lifelong.

Meth Withdrawal Symptoms

Side effects from meth withdrawal might start to manifest at this time, particularly if the person is a strong, long-term addict. Meth withdrawal can be exceedingly painful and is accompanied by overwhelming cravings for meth. This frequently pushes a meth user to consume increasing amounts of the substance. Unfortunately, the more and stronger the usage, the more it takes to exit the body completely.

Meth withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Elevated hunger

  • Fatigue

  • Muscle cramps and weakness

  • Confusion  and irritation

  • Profuse sweating

  • Drowsiness 

  • Nightmares

  • Hallucinations

  • High temperature

  • Panic attacks

  • Depressive episodes

  • Lack of feeling emotions

  • Compulsive behavior

  • Migraines

  • Nausea and dizziness

  • Suicidal tendencies

  • Disregard for life and its gifts

  • Inability to maintain relationships

  • Lack of concentration

Although still not physically life-threatening as the indications of opiate, alcohol, and Xanax abstinence, the mental repercussions of methamphetamine removal can result in persons attacking someone else or harming themselves. It is strongly advised that the "cold turkey" approach should always be avoided. Detoxing from meth at a drug detox center is always the best route to take.

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How Do You Remove Meth From Your System?

Methamphetamine detoxification can be deadly for many individuals owing to its effects on the nervous system. Meth discontinuation treatment services help patients withdraw from methamphetamine easily and securely in a caring and monitored atmosphere. Healthcare practitioners assist patients in detox administration initiatives as they enable their systems to cleanse from methamphetamine. In addition, several health providers may assist patients in coping with the signs of methamphetamine depletion while detoxing off Meth. Meth abstinence, or detoxification, is frequently the preliminary stage in a SUD therapy program.

How Long Does It Take to Develop a Meth Addiction?

There is presently a paucity of literature demonstrating the time it takes for methamphetamine usage to result in a substance dependence disorder. Drug abuse diseases are characterized by obsessive drug-seeking activities, in which an individual persists in using their drug of preference despite facing adverse implications from their habit.

In addition, there is little information regarding whether it is feasible to become addicted to methamphetamine or suffer symptoms of withdrawal only after consuming Meth occasionally. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), withdrawal often happens when regular meth addicts cease or reduce their methamphetamine consumption.

How to Get Help for Meth Abuse: Contact The Edge Treatment Center

There are numerous treatment alternatives accessible for people who use meth. Treatment for meth addiction commonly involves cognitive counseling and therapy to assist clients in identifying the variables that contribute to ongoing methamphetamine usage and developing coping techniques. Medicines to control withdrawal effects and lessen desires might also be included. In addition, individuals can seek guidance and suggestions from their physicians. 

The various facilities and courses available for people suffering from meth addiction are listed below:

Meth abuse is highly dangerous, but it's treatable. If you want to free yourself or a loved one from meth abuse, reach out to The Edge Treatment Center today. The leading long-term outpatient drug rehab in the US, we provide every resource and tool you'll need to free yourself from meth abuse and live a happier life.

We'll start by matching you with a drug detox center to help you over the first hurdles of recovery. When you enter our care, we'll continue to build on your successes earlier in recovery. At The Edge, you'll create a life worth living.

Don't risk a meth overdose or the multitude of other problems from meth abuse. Contact The Edge Treatment Center today to learn more.

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