How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?
What is Methamphetamine?Methamphetamine is a drug classified as a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and dependence. These types of drugs are considered very dangerous. Meth can be administered as a pill or in powder form which can be smoked, snorted, or injected. In crystalline form, known as crystal meth, methamphetamine is more concentrated which can speed up the development of addiction.
How Long are the Effects of Meth?
The duration of the effects of meth depend on the way it is administered. Both smoking and injecting meth can speed up the time it takes for the drug to reach the brain. This creates a rush of euphoria that makes methamphetamine so addictive. When snorted or ingested orally, the effects of meth are slightly less intense but longer-lasting. Rather than a sudden rush of pleasure, a user might experience increased physical and physiological activity for up to 12 hours.
In addition to the route of administration, the amount of the drug used can also affect how long the effects are felt. Depending on how much of the drug is taken, the effects can last anywhere from 8 to 24 hours. Unlike other stimulants such as cocaine which are quickly eliminated from the body, methamphetamine has a half-life of 9-24 hours, so it will remain in the body much longer.
How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?The time that meth will remain in your system varies according to many factors. Though the intense high may only last for a couple of hours, meth will typically remain in your system and be detectable by drug tests for several days. Since meth metabolizes so slowly, the presence of meth will be longer for chronic users. Traces of meth may be found even after months since last use. As the amount of meth in the system drops, users may experience withdrawal symptoms.
Factors That Impact How Long Meth Stays in Your System
In order to better understand why there can be so much variability affecting how long meth stays in your system, it’s important to know the factors that can impact this timeline. These include:
- Dosage - Larger doses of meth will take longer to metabolize so they will remain in your system longer.
- Method of administration - Since some routes of use work faster on the central nervous system, they begin to be eliminated more quickly.
- Meth potency - More concentrated or pure meth will take longer to metabolize.
- History of use - Chronic users will have a higher tolerance, leading to a greater buildup of meth in the system that will take longer to eliminate.
- Concurrent use of other drugs - The presence of other substances including prescription medications may affect the body’s ability to metabolize meth, resulting in the drug staying in your system longer.
- Overall health - Several systems including the liver and kidneys help metabolize meth. Health issues that can affect this functioning will impair the body’s ability to get rid of meth.
- Age - Since metabolism slows as we age, older people will have traces of meth in the body for longer.
- Unique body chemistry - Like any medication, we are better equipped to process some drugs over others. This means that our individual chemistry can impact how long meth stays in our system.
Meth Metabolism & Half-Life
When meth is taken, it is absorbed and distributed around the body through the bloodstream. As it passes to certain organs like the liver and kidneys, it begins to be filtered out and eliminated through urine and waste. A drug’s half-life is the time it takes for half of the substance to be eliminated from the body. It is used to measure how long a substance remains in the body.
Though meth’s metabolism can vary, half of a dose is generally eliminated from the body after about 10 or 12 hours. It takes several half-lives for all traces of meth to be completely eliminated. During this time, it can be detected by drug tests. However, different drug tests are not all equal when it comes to detection time.
How long does meth stay in urine?
Urine tests are some of the most commonly used because they’re affordable and noninvasive. Through urine tests, meth can be detectable for several days - three on average but as many as seven days for chronic users.
How long does meth stay in saliva?
Saliva is not often used to test for meth use because meth is only detectable in saliva for around 24 hours.
How long does meth stay in blood?
Though blood testing is more invasive, it can accurately detect meth in the body for around two days.
How long does meth stay in hair?
Hair testing is by far the longest detection method for meth use. Meth can be found in hair for an average of 90 days and up to 120 days.
Meth withdrawal occurs when your body is accustomed to meth and the chemical effects it produces. When meth use is suddenly discontinued or drastically reduced, individuals may experience extremely unpleasant symptoms as the body struggles to cope with the chemical adjustment. Heavier and more chronic users will experience greater severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include:
- Muscle weakness
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Increased appetite
- Inability to concentrate
- Anxiety and depression
- Suicidal ideation
Quitting cold turkey may increase the likelihood of severe and unpleasant effects. Though meth withdrawal may not be life-threatening, it increases the chance of self-harm due to mood imbalances.
How Long Does It Take to Get Addicted to Meth?The process of addiction varies according to the individual. There is no simple timeline, and even occasional use can be a slippery slope that can quickly lead to the compulsive drug-seeking that characterizes addiction. Addiction often begins with physical dependence. Once the body is accustomed to the chemical changes brought on by meth use, withdrawal begins to set in when meth use is discontinued. This can be a powerful motivation for individuals to continue using. This mechanism forms the basis for addiction, making it more difficult for chronic users to successfully quit using.
How to Get Meth out Of Your SystemThough not directly life-threatening, meth withdrawal can be dangerous due to the substance’s potent effects on the brain. Successfully quitting without help may prove fruitless, which underscores the importance of detox treatment. Medically supervised detox can help individuals safely and comfortably eliminate meth from the body. During this process, medical professionals can alleviate symptoms of withdrawal, making relapse less likely. For many, detox is only the first step in a more comprehensive substance addiction program.
NIDA. 2019, May 16. Methamphetamine DrugFacts.
Zorick, T., Nestor, L., Miotto, K., Sugar, C., Hellemann, G., Scanlon, G., Rawson, R., & London, E. D. (2010). Withdrawal symptoms in abstinent methamphetamine-dependent subjects. Addiction (Abingdon, England), 105(10), 1809–1818. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1360-0443.2010.03066.x
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