How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?Alyssa
Updated April 2021
Methamphetamine, or meth for short, is a powerful and highly addictive stimulant that was misused by over 1.5 million Americans in 2017 alone.1 Because it’s often associated with an immediate high, not many people know how long it takes for the body to flush it out. If you’ve ever wondered, “how long does meth stay in your system? our drug and alcohol treatment center in Palm Beach has some answers.
How Does Methamphetamine Work?
Methamphetamine is a stimulant that targets the central nervous system, specifically the brain. It stimulates the releases of neurotransmitters in the brain, increasing alertness and energy. The stimulation of dopamine and serotonin release is what produces the high that keeps users hooked.
There are several street names for meth, including:
- White cross
- Cotton candy
- Rocket fuel
- Scooby snax
- No doze
The Phases of Meth Entering Your System
The Initial Rush and Meth Comedown
Despite its dangers, many people abuse meth because of the side effects it produces. Depending on the way meth is taken, the dosage, and the person’s tolerance for the drug, a person may begin to experience the initial side effects of meth within minutes. It can be injected or smoked, and both ways of ingesting it can affect how long meth stays in your system. This high can last for up to 12 hours.2 Although the high may begin to fade, the meth stays in your system for a while longer.
When this high fades, users may experience a sudden crash or meth comedown. Meth increases the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, resulting in elevated mood and feelings of euphoria. Once these side effects fade, the person may feel physically and emotionally terrible. Symptoms of depression like sadness and feelings of emptiness may kick in.
Common symptoms of meth comedown include:
- Feelings of emptiness and hopelessness
- Lack of appetite
- Insomnia or trouble sleeping
- Muscle aches and pains
- Headache due to dehydration
So, how long does meth stay in your system? Like with all drugs, the body must break down the meth and this takes time. Compared to some other drugs, methamphetamine stays in your system longer. The half-life of meth is about 10-12 hours.2 A drug’s half-life is the amount of time it takes the body to metabolize half of the substance assuming that no more is ingested.
Meth is also accumulated by different parts of the body at different rates, and some of these areas can metabolize the methamphetamine faster than others. While the liver metabolizes most of the meth, it can take around 75 minutes for meth to be cleared from here.3,4 In contrast, it only takes 7 to 17 minutes to clear meth from the heart and lungs. It also takes the kidney, spleen, and pancreas about 22 to 50 minutes to completely metabolize the ingested meth.4
What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Meth?
When a person suddenly stops using meth, they may begin to exhibit signs of meth withdrawal. As time passes from stopped use or during medical detox, the body will start to metabolize the meth, and the user will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms.
The most common signs and symptoms of meth withdrawal include:
- Drug cravings
- Increased appetite
- Dry mouth
- Feeling shaky
- Meth mouth (decay of dental hygiene)
- Meth skin sores (meth mites)
Withdrawal symptoms can range in severity and severe symptoms may even last up to three weeks.2 Meth withdrawal usually occurs in two phases, the first being the most severe. The first 24 hours of withdrawal tend to be the worst; symptoms usually subside within the following few weeks. The severity of these symptoms depends on factors like the duration of the person’s addiction and whether they’ve used other substances. Withdrawal is one of the surest signs that someone is addicted to a substance and needs formal meth addiction treatment.
Detecting Meth in a Drug Test
Even following withdrawal, trace amounts of meth that stay in your system may be picked up on a drug test. Just how long meth can be detected in urine and blood will depend on the type of drug test being used as well as the dosage last taken. Some drug tests like hair tests can show evidence of drug use a lot farther back than others, but this type of test is not commonly used. Instead, most places use urine or blood tests. Meth can stay in your urine from one to four days after the last dose. However, people with a long-term meth addiction may have meth in their urine for over a week after their last use. Meth can be detected in blood for one to two days after the last use. In saliva, meth can be detected for as long as five hours or two days.6
Factors That Determine Detection Time of Meth in Drug Tests
How long meth stays in your body is affected by a variety of variables. Some of these variables can make it difficult or nearly impossible for methamphetamine to be detected by drug tests. Some of these factors include:
- The person’s overall health: The liver and kidney play big roles in metabolizing meth and flushing it out of the person’s system. The healthier the person is, the quicker they may process meth.
- Frequency of use: Individuals who use methamphetamine more often will have longer detection times than those who don’t. Because meth is so addictive, this may be a more common scenario regarding drug detection.
- Metabolism: The higher the person’s metabolism, the quicker their body can process meth.
- How meth is used: How a person ingests meth can affect detection time. If it’s taken orally it may be eliminated quicker than if it was injected.
While some may be able to stay sober long enough to beat a drug test, there are several long-term health effects of meth use that will only get worse as a result of chronic use. It is important to find help before these problems arise or worsen. Meth can do considerable damage to multiple aspects of a person’s life.
Signs of Meth Overdose
Methamphetamine is an addictive drug that’s difficult to quit using. As the person’s tolerance to certain doses of meth grows, they may use more to experience the same high. This puts them at high risk of overdosing.
The most common signs of meth overdose include:
- Difficulties breathing
- Stomach pains
- Loss of consciousness
- Kidney failure
- Difficulties urinating
- Dark urine
- Aggressive behavior
- Extremely high or low blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Chest pains
If you recognize the signs of meth withdrawal in yourself for someone else, call 9-1-1 right away. Following medical attention, individuals who suffer from a meth overdose can then get help from our addiction treatment in Lake Worth.
At Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches, we help patients move beyond their substance use or mental health problem. To get started or to get more information for your loved one, call us today at 561-220-3981.
- NIH – What is the scope of methamphetamine misuse in the United States?
- NCBI – Current Research on Methamphetamine: Epidemiology, Medical and Psychiatric Effects, Treatment, and Harm Reduction Efforts
- Addiction – A review of the clinical pharmacology of methamphetamine
- NCBI – Distribution and Pharmacokinetics of Methamphetamine in the Human Body: Clinical Implications
- NCBI – Methamphetamine Disposition in Oral Fluid, Plasma, and Urine
- NCBI- Detection times of drugs of abuse in blood, urine, and oral fluid