How Long Does Meth Stay In Your System?

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Methamphetamine (meth) is a powerful stimulant commonly misused for its euphoric, stimulating effects. After using meth, many individuals report feeling talkative, hyperactive, and energetic, and having increased alertness and the ability to focus. It is often found as a white powder or rock-like crystalline form that is semi-translucent and whitish to bluish in color. Meth is typically smoked out of a glass pipe, but it can also be snorted or injected.

Depending on the amount and frequency of use, meth will remain in the human body for approximately four days. Meth has an estimated half-life of 10 hours and can be detected in the urine for about three days following the last use. (1)

If you’ve been misusing meth, especially if you are concerned that you may be unable to pass a drug test for work or for legal purposes, you are urged to seek professional help for addiction. At Guardian Recovery, we are dedicated to providing individuals with the skills they need to identify the underlying causes of their addiction and overcome these issues, no matter how long-lasting or severe they may be. Contact us and discover how we can help you break free from addiction for life.

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Methods of Use & Metabolization of Meth

When meth is smoked, it is rapidly absorbed through the lungs into the bloodstream and rapidly reaches the brain, producing a rapid and intense high, which can occur within a few seconds. When meth is snorted, it is absorbed through the mucous membranes in the nose and quickly enters the bloodstream, and effects can be felt within a few minutes. Injecting meth delivers the drug directly into the bloodstream, leading to a near-immediate onset of effects and a more intense high compared to other methods, including snorting and smoking. (3)

Regardless of how it’s used, meth will begin the metabolic process handled primarily by the liver, which breaks it down into several metabolites, including amphetamine, norephedrine, and 4-hydroxyephedrine. These metabolites are then processed by the kidneys and excreted in the urine.

Meth Presence in the Bloodstream

How long meth remains in a person’s bloodstream varies depending on a few factors, including the dose, frequency of use, individual metabolism, and the drug test used. On average, meth can be found in the blood for 1–3 days after the last use. However, hair and urine tests may identify meth use for longer than a blood test because they are able to detect its remaining metabolites.

Factors That Affect Meth Detection & Duration in the System Include:

  • Individual metabolic rate.
  • Length and frequency of use.
  • Amount last used.
  • Kidney and liver function.
  • Body fat ratio.
  • Overall health status.
  • Other substances in the body.
  • Other individual factors.

Polysubstance Misuse

It’s not unusual for those struggling with meth addiction to misuse other substances. Using meth in combination with another stimulant can increase the risk of cardiac arrest. Furthermore, mixing meth with a depressant, such as heroin, can cause unpredictable and potentially life-threatening complications.

It has also become increasingly common to find meth on the black market that has been adulterated with other drugs, such as fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid similar in effect to heroin but approximately 50 times more potent. Although an overdose of meth alone is rarely lethal, overdosing on meth adulterated with fentanyl can result in death when the primary effects of meth subside and fentanyl remains active.

The presence of other drugs or alcohol in the body can impact how long it takes for the body to metabolize meth. When the liver is working overtime to process toxins, it can take longer for the body to process any individual substance or its metabolites.

How Long Does Meth Stay in Saliva, Blood, Urine, & Hair?

The most prevalent method used to test for meth is by using a urine sample. This type of test is often used in workplaces, schools, and other settings where drug use is prohibited. Urine drug tests can detect the presence of meth in the body for several days after use, depending on various factors. However, meth can also be detected using blood, saliva, and hair samples for different lengths of time. (4) Salivary drug levels largely correlate with the amount in the blood plasma. (5)

General Guidelines for Meth Detection Windows in Various Tests:

  • Blood—Up to 3 days.
  • Saliva—Up to 4 days.
  • Urine—Up to 4 days.
  • Hair—Up to 90 days.

These estimates can vary based on individual factors. Additionally, some drug tests are more sensitive than others and may be able to detect meth use for longer periods.

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How Long Do the Effects of Meth Use Last?

The effects of meth use are particularly long compared to cocaine, another popular illicit stimulant. Their duration can vary greatly based on many factors, and users can experience effects for up to 12 hours or longer in some cases. (6) The initial “rush” induces the most intense feelings but tends to subside within a few minutes.

Some of the short-term effects of meth use include increased energy and alertness, decreased appetite, and a sense of euphoria or well-being. However, these effects can be followed by a “crash” period in which the individual may feel fatigued, irritable, and depressed.

Acute Signs & Symptoms of Meth Use Include:

  • Hyperactivity, talkativeness, and euphoria.
  • Itchiness, skin picking, and sores.
  • Severe tooth and oral decay that worsens over time.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Loss of appetite and noticeable weight loss.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Erratic sleeping patterns, being awake for days or weeks followed by prolonged sleeping episodes.
  • Twitching, facial tics, and jerky movements.
  • Teeth grinding (bruxism).
  • Profuse sweating.
  • Angry outbursts or mood swings.
  • Paranoia and delusions.
  • Disordered thoughts and psychosis.

Potential Long-Lasting Effects After Meth Has Left the Body

Even after meth has left the body, the effects of its use can persist for some time. Long-term use of meth can lead to brain changes and lasting effects on an individual’s behavior, cognition, and overall health. Long-term effects related to meth use can also increase an individual’s risk of heart disease, cognitive impairments, neurotoxicity, and premature death.

Like snorting cocaine, intranasal meth use increases a person’s risk of nosebleeds, infections, and permanent damage to the nasal septum and surrounding tissues. (7) Likewise, injecting meth can cause damage to the skin and veins, including sores, abscesses, infections, and deep vein thrombosis. (8) Individuals who use meth frequently have an unkempt, disheveled appearance and may neglect essential personal responsibilities, such as childrearing, housekeeping, and sustaining employment.

Other Potential Long-Lasting Effects of Meth Use Include:

  • Addiction, including physical and psychological dependence.
  • Damage to the brain and nervous system, and problems with memory, attention, and decision-making.
  • Mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, suicidality, and psychosis.
  • Cardiovascular problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
  • Dental problems, including significant damage to teeth and gums, also known as “meth mouth.”
  • Skin problems, such as acne, sores, and rashes.
  • Impaired immune function and greater susceptibility to infections and illnesses.

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Guardian Recovery offers individualized, comprehensive programs at multiple levels of care that include medical detox, residential, partial hospitalization, and outpatient treatment formats. All programs feature therapeutic services beneficial for the recovery process, such as behavioral therapy, group support, and aftercare planning.

We encourage you to reach out to us to speak to a skilled Treatment Advisor to learn more about our streamlined admissions process and commitment to helping individuals overcome addiction and sustain long-lasting sobriety and well-being. For a free, no-obligation assessment and health insurance benefits, contact us today.

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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

(1)https://drugpolicy.org/drug-facts/how-long-meth-stays-in-system (2)https://godoymedical.net/2150-2/ (3)https://touchbase.org.au/alcohol-and-drugs/meth (4)https://www.drugtestingsupplies.com/drug-detection-windows-explained/ (5)https://supremecourt.nebraska.gov/sites/default/files/Programs/CIP/events/redwood/LAB_Reference_Guide.pdf (6)https://www.camh.ca/en/health-info/mental-illness-and-addiction-index/methamphetamines (7)https://www.nyc.gov/site/doh/health/health-topics/cocaine-abuse-and-addiction.page (8)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4871283/

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

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Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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