Drug and Alcohol

Methamphetamine: How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System

How long does meth stay in your system? Long enough to do serious harm. Learn how drug tests can detect meth and more in our blog.

Methamphetamine: 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

June 15, 2023

The Forge Recovery Center

Methamphetamine is commonly called meth, a compulsive stimulant known for causing severe medical conditions. Its long-term use can result in cognitive impairments, aggressive conduct, hallucinations, and severe dental conditions.

As a result, the US law and authoritative figures like Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have classified meth as a Schedule II stimulant under the Controlled Substances Act. 

One of the questions that come up around meth use is this: how long does meth stay in your system? It's not an easy question to answer; as you'll see, there are many, many factors that determine it.

Statistics About Meth:

The 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) has stated that among individuals aged 12 or above, approximately 2.5 million of them reported consuming meth in the previous 12 months. 

What is Meth?

Meth is a potent, illicit stimulant. It’s extremely addictive and has devastating physical effects on its users. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has identified meth as a potent stimulant responsible for affecting the brain and spinal cord.

Meth often appears as a white crystalline powder with no taste. It also appears as a crystal (crystal meth) that can be smoked. Either way, meth is a toxic and highly habit-forming narcotic with devastating acute and adverse health consequences, including meth overdose.

Desoxyn is the only prescription form of methamphetamine available today. In rare cases, physicians might suggest it for losing weight or to address the signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Furthermore, because meth is so potent, even small quantities may rapidly lead to bodily dependence and addiction.

How is Meth Made?

Initially, manufacturers created meth from amphetamine and utilized it in nasal congestion relievers and bronchial inhalers. Individuals now "cook" methamphetamine in squalid laboratories with generic drugs and highly toxic substances. The most popular method involves using pseudoephedrine or ephedrine, prominent components in flu medicines.

Producing meth is particularly risky due to the toxic fumes produced by the substances utilized. They have the potential to cause accidents and blazes. The resultant product is a white powder with no odor. Crystal methamphetamine looks like little fragments of glass or blue-white boulders.

Meth is also produced in large “superlabs” outside of the US and then smuggled in.

What are the Slang Terms for Meth?

Slang terms or street names used in conjunction with meth are mentioned below:

  • Glass

  • Bathtub crank

  • Go Fast

  • Ice

  • Crissy

  • Fire

  • Chalk

  • Gak

  • Christina

  • Speed

  • Crystal

  • Crank

  • Christmas tree

  • Uppers

  • Rocket Fuel

  • Tina

  • Tweak

  • Poor Man's Coke

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How Long Does It Take Meth to Take Effect?

Meth is typically snorted, smoked through a small glass tube, or injected. It can also be taken orally. Either of these ways rapidly delivers the medicine to the central nervous system, with injection or infusion being the fastest.

After the medicine penetrates the brain, it creates feelings of intense energy and euphoria. Methamphetamine can also be eaten or snorted via the nose and produces a constant rush, generally backed up by increased alertness and physical activity, that can continue for up to 12 hours. 

How Long Does Meth Stay in the System?

Cocaine is also a stimulant-like substance instantly eliminated and digested from the system, but this is not the case with meth. Meth remains in the human system for significantly longer, resulting in long-lasting stimulant-like consequences. The results of meth can linger in the body for as long as 8 to 24 hours.

Bear in mind that these are only estimates. Many different factors determine how long a hit of meth lasts. These include:

  • How long a person has used meth

  • How meth was used: snorted, injected, smoked

  • How much meth a person uses

  • Individual physiology

What is the Half-Life of Meth and How is it Metabolized?

The half-life of meth is 9 to 24 hours. This means it takes between 9 and 24 hours for the concentration of meth in an individual's blood to drop by half.

Meth penetrates the bloodstream during ingestion or smoking and swiftly flows to the nervous system, respiratory tract, liver, and renal area. Methamphetamine is a drug that is easily soluble in water and quickly crosses the pores of cells. This permits it to quickly pass the border between the blood and the brain and reach the brain. Methamphetamine is metabolized and eliminated by the body through the liver and kidneys.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) explains how meth is digested: A protein called cytochrome P450 2D6 in the liver converts it into two major metabolites: para-hydroxy methamphetamine (pOH-MA) and amphetamine (AMP). These metabolites are subsequently filtered out of the circulatory system by the kidneys and excreted in the urine.

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How Long Can Drug Tests Detect Meth?

Meth can be detected for a surprisingly long time, depending on the type of drug test used. While factors like individual physiology and so on play a role, here are some general estimates on how long drug tests can detect meth.

Blood Test for Meth

A blood test for meth can detect the drug for up to three days after it was last used.

Urine Test for Meth

Meth is typically detectable in urine for five days following the last dose. Because methamphetamine breaks down to amphetamine, both compounds will likely appear on a drug test. The standard detection window for stimulants such as amphetamine is three to five days following the last dose.

This period may be greater in people who engage in significant, regular use, and it might be detectable in urination for as long as seven days.

Saliva Test for Meth

Meth only shows up for around two days after it was last used in a saliva drug test.

Hair Follicle Test for Meth

Meth can be identified by a hair follicle assessment for three months following the last dosage, based on what form of hair testing is undertaken. For instance, it is more appropriate for forensic examination and is generally not utilized for medical or industrial testing. 

Meth is known to be a highly addictive and toxic chemical, and any anticipated problems and dependency issues must be treated immediately. The journey of recovery from meth reliance can be straining; however, the earlier a person seeks assistance, the easier the process will be.

What are Meth Withdrawal Symptoms?

Suddenly stopping meth use can result in severe withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can emerge in any person who consumes meth, particularly those who engage in chronic and persistent consumption.

Withdrawal from meth can be intensely unpleasant, with unbearable urges and desires for drugs. This is why a person who engages in meth intake needs to consume it in larger quantities. The longer the duration and larger the dosage, the longer it requires to eliminate the system. 

Meth withdrawal symptoms can involve the following:

  • Hallucinations

  • Migraines

  • Lethargy

  • Flu-like symptoms

  • High temperature

  • Agitation

  • Jumpiness

  • Crankiness

  • Aggressive behavior

  • Panic attacks

  • Depressive episodes

  • Lack of feel-good hormones

  • Lack of muscle strength

  • Profuse sweating

  • Drowsiness

  • Lack of concentration

  • Psychotic behavior

  • Suicidal tendencies

  • Nightmares

The indications mentioned above are not fatal. Still, the behavioral and emotional impact of methamphetamine elimination might cause individuals to inflict harm upon others and themselves.

Medical practitioners advise against detoxing from meth at home, which must always be accomplished under medical guidance. 

How to Detox From Meth Safely

Several individuals may find that quitting meth is perilous for their health because brain chemistry is severely affected by its effects. Facilities for controlling meth withdrawal help individuals detoxify from methamphetamine in a supportive and supervised environment.

At these drug detox centers, the doctors and the staff of nurses monitor a patient round-the-clock to manage acute withdrawal symptoms and help them accordingly. The assistance can include medically-assisted treatment (MAT) and psychotherapy to manage drug cravings.

Meth drug detox is extremely important, but it’s only the first step to recovery from meth addiction.

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How Long Does It Take to Develop a Meth Addiction?

Currently, there is an absence of analysis describing the duration it requires for meth consumption to form an addiction in a person, physically and mentally. Meth addiction, in which a person continues to use meth while experiencing negative consequences from dependency, is a sign of a substance use disorder.

The chances of a person growing dependent on methamphetamine or suffering from withdrawal effects after a single dosage have been looked into rather minutely. According to NIDA, withdrawal symptoms usually emerge when people who use meth cease their consumption abruptly or start consuming the drug in smaller quantities. 

What are The Risks & Hazards of Meth Consumption?

Meth is a highly addictive stimulant, and medical providers connect it with life-threatening health consequences. These hazards grow with time and frequency of usage. 

Mentioned below are a few short-term risks of using meth:

  • Elevated blood pressure

  • Rise in pulse rate

  • High body temperature

  • Pinpoint pupils

  • Lack of hunger

  • Lethargy

  • Sleeplessness 

  • Increased strength and attention

Long-term meth consumption can lead to the below-mentioned effects as well:

  • Reduced body weight

  • Skin infections

  • Addiction to other substances

  • High susceptibility toward drug tolerance

  • Paranoia

  • Hallucinations

  • Anxiety attacks

  • Illusions

  • Serious dental issues, aka “meth mouth”

  • Irregular sleep patterns

  • Problems in cognition, including impairment of memory

  • Irrational visions, both visual and audible

  • Paranoia

  • Delusions such as imagining that insects are crawling beneath the skin

Using meth raises your risk of getting HIV or hepatitis C via sharing your injecting supplies. Finally, the human body can be destroyed by meth, mainly when used repeatedly and for a long time. While some of these consequences can be reversed by quitting or cutting back on meth usage, others are irreversible.

How to Seek Help for Meth Addiction

There are numerous treatment alternatives accessible for people who use meth. Psychotherapy and rehab for meth addiction frequently include cognitive therapies to assist clients in identifying the variables that contribute to their meth usage and developing coping techniques.

Pharmaceutical products to control symptoms associated with withdrawal and lessen desires may also be included. Individuals can seek direction and suggestions from their physicians. They can also search for local assistance and medical care via online directories or searching for nearby rehabilitation centers.

Meth addiction is a serious issue with possible long-term effects. As a result, it is critical to seek expert assistance as soon as feasible. People can overcome their meth addiction with the right support.

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Meth Addiction is Devastating…but Treatable. Reach Out Today to The Forge Recovery Center

The Forge Recovery Center uses proven, evidence-based methods to treat meth addiction. Our team of qualified addiction specialists will be your team members throughout the entire meth recovery process. We’ll help you find effective, safe meth detox, and then work with you as you build a new life without meth.

Left untreated, meth addiction shatters lives. At The Forge, we build strong ones. Want to know more about our meth treatment program? Contact The Forge Recovery Center today.

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