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Updated on September 27, 2022

How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?

How Long Meth Stays in Your System

The amount of time that meth stays in your system depends on the dose ingested, frequency of use, and your body’s ability to process it.

Methamphetamine stays in your system for approximately:

Urine 1-10 days
Blood 1-3 days
Saliva 1-4 days
Hair Up to 90 days
How long does Meth stay in your system?

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About Meth

Methamphetamine is the second most popular illicit drug in the world, after marijuana. It's commonly sold under the street names meth, crank, crystal, crystal meth, glass, ice, and speed. 

In the United States, it's considered a schedule II drug. This means it has a high potential for misuse and a high risk for developing severe mental or physical dependence (addiction).

It does have limited medical usage and can be prescribed under the brand name Desoxyn to treat ADHD or obesity. However, it is rarely prescribed as safer drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin are now available.

Drug Testing for Meth

After ingestion, meth enters your urine, sweat, blood, and hair. All hair and fluid samples can be tested for meth. However, urine tests are the most common and cost-effective way of detecting methamphetamine.

How Long Does Meth Stay in Your Urine?

Meth will show up in your urine within an hour of ingesting the drug. A urine test can detect meth one to three days after the last use for occasional users, and seven to ten days for very heavy users.

How Long Does Meth Stay in Your Blood?

Meth typically leaves your bloodstream completely after 48 hours. However, blood tests may be able to detect it after three to four days in chronic users who ingest large doses.

How Long Does Meth Stay in Your Saliva?

Meth remains in your saliva for one to four days after the last use. A cotton swab can collect oral fluid from your mouth for a saliva test.

How Long Does Meth Stay in Your Hair?

Meth reaches your hair follicles seven to ten days after use and remains in them for up to 90 days. However, a hair follicle test is typically more expensive than other methods of testing. Further, their results are more controversial as environmental contamination may cause false positives.

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How Long Does Meth Last?

Users can inject, smoke, swallow, or snort methamphetamine. Injecting or smoking will cause the drug to reach the brain very quickly, causing a “rush” or “flash” of euphoria. The high will be more intense but wear off quicker. Swallowing or snorting the drug will cause the high to be spread out up to 12 hours, and aftereffects can last up to 24 hours.

Half-Life of Meth

The half-life of methamphetamine is approximately 10 hours. This means that after 10 hours, half of the ingested dose has been metabolized and removed from the bloodstream.

Summary

Meth high may not last too long but the drug stays longer in your system. Drug tests detect the presence of methamphetamine in the urine, sweat, blood, and hair.

Methamphetamine Statistics

1.6

Million

People reported methamphetamine use in 2016.

23

Years Old

The average age of new methamphetamine users is 23.3 years old.

61

Percent

Of people released from treatment for methamphetamine relapse within the first year.

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Effects of Meth

Methamphetamine increases the brain’s production of dopamine, a chemical that is involved in body movement, motivation, and rewarding behaviors. It is a central nervous system stimulant.

Users typically feel the effects of meth 3 to 5 minutes after snorting it or about 15 to 30 mins after oral ingestion.

The effects of meth typically happen in three stages:

The Rush

The initial "rush" happens as dopamine floods your brain. It typically lasts about 30 minutes. This is the most intense part of the experience.

The High

The user will be high for the next four to 16 hours. They will experience rapid speech, increased awareness, obsessive behavior, and rapid thinking patterns.

The Crash

Once the methamphetamine starts to wear off, the user may begin to "tweak." They may start to itch, grow paranoid, and experience insomnia. Withdrawal symptoms can now set in.

Adverse short-term side effects of meth use include:

  • Agitation
  • Inability to focus
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Inability to follow directions
  • Inattention
  • Depressed reflexes
  • Increased reaction time
  • Motor excitation
  • Restlessness
  • Time distortion

Adverse long-term side effects of meth abuse include:

  • Malnourishment
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Severe dental problems ("meth mouth")
  • Itching, leading to skin sores from scratching
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in brain function
  • Memory loss
  • Sleeping problems
  • Violent behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations

Summary

Methamphetamine is a powerful CNS stimulant and is a highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system (CNS). Its effects come in three stages: the rush, the high, and the crash. The amount of time that meth stays in your system depends on how much you ingested, frequency of use, and your body’s ability to process it.

Mental Health Risks

Psychosis has been reported as an effect of long term use. Psychosis is a severe mental disorder that impairs your thoughts and emotions so much that you lose contact with external reality.

Meth-induced psychosis can occur during intoxication or afterward during withdrawal.

Meth Addiction

Crystal meth is one of the most addictive drugs in the world. Because it has such a powerful effect on the brain’s reward system, even first-time meth users have a very strong drive to use it again.

After just a few uses, people can develop psychological or physical dependence, especially if the drug is smoked or injected.

Meth Withdrawal

Because the physical addiction to meth is very intense, withdrawal symptoms are also severe. Withdrawal symptoms can begin approximately 24 hours after the last dose.

Generally, the heavier the drug use, the worse your symptoms will be.

Meth withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Shaking
  • Itchy eyes
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Clammy skin
  • Hyperventilation
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Psychosis
  • Depression

Meth Overdose

There are two different types of methamphetamine overdose:

  • An acute (sudden) methamphetamine overdose occurs when someone takes meth by accident or on purpose. Side effects can be deadly.
  • chronic (long-term) methamphetamine overdose refers to the health consequences of using meth on a regular basis. 

If you overdose on methamphetamine, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Irritation
  • Chest pain
  • Coma or unresponsiveness (in extreme cases)
  • Heart attack
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Cardiac arrhythmias (Irregular or stopped heartbeat)
  • Anxiety
  • Dyspnea (trouble breathing)
  • Hyperthermia (high body temperature)
  • Renal failure (kidney damage) 
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Stroke
  • Fatigue
  • Increased sleeping

Summary

A person using Methamphetamine is at risk of addiction, withdrawal, overdose, and developing mental problems. Overdose is a "life or death" situation. If you suspect a person is experiencing an overdose, you should call your local emergency number (911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Meth Rehab Options

Meth addiction is treated similarly to most substance use disorders. While there is no FDA-approved medication to treat methamphetamine use, there is a wide range of addiction treatment programs that help individuals recover through detox, behavioral therapy, and peer support.

Co-occurring disorders need special treatment. Meth rehab options include:

  • Inpatient Programs: Inpatient treatment takes place at a licensed residential treatment center. These programs provide 24/7 comprehensive, structured care. You'll live in safe, substance-free housing and have access to professional medical monitoring.
  • Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs): Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) are sometimes referred to as intensive outpatient programs (IOPs). You'll receive medical services, behavioral therapy, and support groups, along with other customized therapies. However, in a partial hospitalization program, you return home to sleep.
  • Outpatient Programs: Outpatient treatment is less intensive than inpatient or PHPs. These programs organize your treatment session based on your schedule. Outpatient treatment provides therapy, education, and support in a flexible environment. They are best for people who have a high motivation to recover, but cannot leave their responsibilities.
  • Support Groups: Support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous and SMART Recovery are open to anyone with a substance abuse problem. They are peer-led organizations dedicated to helping each other remain sober. They can be the first step towards recovery or part of a long-term aftercare plan.

A comprehensive program at an inpatient treatment facility provides the best hope for meth recovery.

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Resources

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  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). "Methamphetamine."  2019.
  2. Barnes, Allan J et al. “Excretion of methamphetamine and amphetamine in human sweat following controlled oral methamphetamine administration.” Clinical chemistry, 2008.
  3. Huestis, Marilyn A, and Edward J Cone. “Methamphetamine disposition in oral fluid, plasma, and urine.” Annals of the New York Academy of Science, 2007.
  4. Kish, Stephen J. “Pharmacologic mechanisms of crystal meth.” CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l'Association medicale canadienne, 2008.
  5. Zorick, Todd et al. “Withdrawal symptoms in abstinent methamphetamine-dependent subjects.” Addiction, 2010.
  6. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). "Methamphetamine." 2019.
  7. Courtney, Kelly E, and Lara A Ray. “Methamphetamine: an update on epidemiology, pharmacology, clinical phenomenology, and treatment literature.” Drug and alcohol dependence, 2014.
  8. Glasner-Edwards, Suzette, and Larissa J Mooney. “Methamphetamine psychosis: epidemiology and management.” CNS drugs, 2014.
  9. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What Is the Scope of Methamphetamine Misuse in the United States?” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2020.
  10. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Methamphetamine Trends & Statistics.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2020.
  11. Brecht, Mary-Lynn, and Diane Herbeck. “Time to Relapse Following Treatment for Methamphetamine Use: A Long-Term Perspective on Patterns and Predictors.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2014.

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