How Long Does Meth Stay in Your SystemAlyssa
Methamphetamine, or meth for short, is an addictive drug that was misused by over 1.5 million Americans in 2017 alone.1 While many users associate it with an immediate high, meth stays in your system far longer than many users may be aware of. As a behavioral health clinic in South Florida, we are looking at how long meth stays in your system and how your body breaks it down.
The Initial Rush & High
Many people take meth because of its high. Depending on the route of administration, the dosage, and the person’s tolerance for the drug, people can start to feel the initial effects of meth within minutes. 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.
As time passes from stopped use or during a drug detox, the body will start to metabolize the meth, and the user will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal is one of the surest signs that someone is addicted to a substance and needs formal meth addiction treatment. Withdrawal symptoms can range in severity and severe symptoms may even last up to three weeks.2
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 are able to 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
Detecting Meth in a Drug Test
Even following withdrawal, trace amounts of meth stay in your system and may be picked up on a drug test. Just how long meth can be detected 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. You can typically detect meth in urine for up to three days after the last dose was taken.5 You can usually detect meth in the bloodstream for one to two days after stopping.6
While you 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 with continued abuse. It is important to find help before these problems arise or get worse. Meth can do considerable damage to multiple aspects of a person’s life.
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
- TransMedCo – Detection Times of Drugs of Abuse in Blood, Urine, and Oral Fluid