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How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?

How long does meth stay in your system? Find out the half-life of meth and more in this comprehensive article.

What Is Meth?

What is meth, and how long does meth stay in your system? Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, is a highly addictive and powerful stimulant drug. It affects the central nervous system and can lead to various health problems, including heart attack, stroke, and permanent brain damage.1 At Ripple Ranch, we specialize in the tailored treatment that helps to eliminate the inevitable risks and dangers associated with meth use.

While primarily used recreationally, methamphetamine is available as a prescription, Desoxyn, approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Though rarely prescribed, Desoxyn is used under the guidance of a medical professional to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obesity.2 

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Table of Contents

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Drug Class

How long does meth stay in your system? How is the substance classified? Methamphetamine belongs to the class of drugs known as stimulants. Specifically, it is a psychostimulant drug that stimulates the central nervous system while producing increased alertness, attention, and energy. 

Other drugs in this class include amphetamines, cocaine, and methylphenidate. How long does meth stay in your system compared to other stimulants depends on their individual chemical qualities.

Drug Schedule

In the United States, methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance. Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse and accepted medical use with severe restrictions. This means that possession, distribution, and manufacturing of meth are illegal under federal law except under certain circumstances, such as for medical use under strict prescription and control.3

This makes knowing the answer to “how long does meth stay in your system?” very important.

Is Meth Addictive?

How long does meth stay in your system? Is meth addictive? Yes, methamphetamine is highly addictive. Meth addiction can also develop quickly. The drug causes a release of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. This creates a feeling of euphoria and increased energy.4

Irrespective of how long does meth stay in your system, regular use of meth can cause changes in the brain’s reward system. This makes it difficult for individuals to feel pleasure from natural rewards, leading to compulsive drug-seeking behavior.

Statistics on Methamphetamine Abuse

Methamphetamine abuse is a significant problem in the United States and globally. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 1.6 million people in the United States used methamphetamine in the past year.5
Methamphetamine-related emergency department (ED) visits have also increased over the past twenty years. The number of ED visits involving meth doubled between 2005 and 2011 and continued to grow in the following years.6

How long does meth stay in your system? How dangerous is meth use? Deaths related to meth have also been on the rise. This relates to the question “how long does meth stay in your system?” According to the National Vital Statistics System, the number of fatalities involving meth increased nearly tenfold between 2007 and 2017.7

Effects of Methamphetamine

How long does meth stay in your system? What are the potential implications of meth use? These effects can vary depending on the method of use, the dose, the frequency of use, and the individual. 

Short-Term Implications of Meth Use

Some common short-term effects of meth use include the following:
  • Increased alertness, attention, and energy
  • Increased sociability and talkativeness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils

Long-Term Implications of Meth Use

Long-term effects of meth use can include:
  • Addiction
  • Damage to the brain, including memory loss and cognitive impairment
  • Damage to the heart, including increased risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Damage to the lungs, liver, and kidneys
  • Malnutrition and weight loss
  • Dental problems (meth mouth)

Signs and Symptoms of Meth Addiction

The signs and symptoms of meth addiction can include the following:
  • Strong cravings for the drug
  • Increased tolerance, where the individual needs more of the drug to achieve the desired effect
  • Difficulty controlling drug use, such as using more than intended or for longer periods
  • Withdrawal symptoms when not using the drug, such as fatigue, depression, anxiety, and irritability
  • Neglecting responsibilities at home, work, or school to use the drug
  • Continuing to use the drug despite negative consequences, such as health problems, legal trouble, or relationship problems
  • Increased impulsivity, agitation, irritability, and aggression

Signs and Symptoms of Meth Overdose

How long does meth stay in your system? Not knowing the answer to that pivotal question can lead to overdoses when drug use is not monitored. The signs and symptoms of a meth overdose can include the following:

  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Agitation and aggression
  • Tremors and muscle twitching
  • Seizures
  • Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature)
  • Loss of consciousness or coma
  • Respiratory distress

Meth overdose can be life-threatening. It is important to seek immediate medical attention if you suspect someone has overdosed on meth.

Meth Withdrawal Symptoms

How your body answers the question “how long does meth stay in your system?” can affect the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms. Methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on the person and the severity of their addiction. Some common withdrawal symptoms of meth include:

  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia and disturbed sleep
  • Increased appetite
  • Intense cravings for the drug
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Increased risk of suicide

How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?

Now, how long does meth stay in your system? Depending on the type of test, meth can last anywhere from one day to three months. How long does meth stay in your system can depend on several factors, such as the method of use, the dose, and the individual’s metabolism. In general, meth can be detected in the body for the following periods:
  • Blood: Up to twenty-four hours
  • Urine: Three to five days
  • Hair: Up to ninety days
It’s important to note that these are just rough estimates, and the detection window may be longer or shorter depending on the individual.

How Long Does the Meth High Last?

Knowing the answer to “how long does meth stay in your system?” can also help determine the length of time the meth high lasts. This varies depending on the method of use, the dose, and the individual. On average, the meth high can last anywhere from four to twenty-four hours. The onset of the high usually occurs within minutes of smoking or injecting the drug or within about thirty minutes of snorting or swallowing it.8

After the initial rush, the high can last for several hours. During this time, the individual may experience increased energy, alertness, sociability, and decreased appetite. Feelings of euphoria and well-being often occur, but anxiety, agitation, and paranoia usually follow.

What Is the Half-Life of Meth?

The answer to “how long does meth stay in your system?” depends significantly on its half-life. The half-life is the amount of time it takes for half of a drug to be eliminated from the body. The half-life of meth is about twelve hours. This means that a healthy person’s body could eliminate half of the meth after twelve hours.9

It’s important to note that the half-life of meth varies from person to person. Some factors like age, overall health, and other medications being taken can affect the elimination of meth from the body. Also, the half-life of meth can be longer in individuals with liver or kidney problems.

Factors That Affect Detection Time

When determining the answer to “how long does meth stay in your system?”, it is essential to consider what affects detection times. Several factors affect the detection time of meth in the body, including:

  • Method of Use: Meth can be smoked, injected, snorted, or swallowed. The method of use can affect how quickly the drug is absorbed into the body and how long does meth stay in your system.
  • Dose: A higher dose of meth will typically stay in the body longer.
  • Frequency of Use: Regular use of meth can cause the drug to build up in the body, resulting in a longer detection time. This increases how long does meth stay in your system.
  • Metabolism: Metabolism affects how quickly the body can break down and eliminate meth. Faster metabolisms would have shorter detection times.
  • Age and Overall Health: Age and overall health can affect the body’s ability to eliminate meth. Older adults and people with kidney and liver issues will have higher detection times due to problems clearing the drug.
  • Other Medications: Taking certain medications can affect the metabolism of meth and thus the detection time.

Detecting Meth in Drug Tests

The answer to “how long does meth stay in your system?” can be accurately obtained by drug tests. There are several tests for detecting meth, including:

  • Urine Test: A urine test is one of the most common methods for detecting meth. Meth can be detected in urine for up to three to five days after the last use.10
  • Blood Test: A blood test can detect meth for up to twenty-four hours after the last use. This method is not commonly used as it is invasive and not practical for regular testing.
  • Hair Test: While less common, a hair test can detect meth use as long as ninety days after the last use. Medical professionals typically use this method to detect long-term drug use or to test for drugs that are not detectable in other types of tests.
  • Saliva Test: A saliva test can detect meth twenty-four hours after the last use. Saliva tests are not generally used compared to other tests.

False Positive Testing

False positive tests occur when the results show the presence of a drug despite never using it. False positive meth tests commonly happen for two reasons—a laboratory error or taking medication with a similar structure to methamphetamine. Certain antihistamines, nasal inhalers, and cold medications can be mistakenly detected as meth.11
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Meth Addiction Treatment

How long does meth stay in your system? How can one effectively overcome meth addiction? There are several treatment options for meth addiction, including:

  • Medically-Assisted Detoxification: This is typically the first step in treating meth addiction. Medical detox involves allowing the body to eliminate the drug from the system and using medications to manage withdrawal symptoms. This method helps make quitting meth as safe and comfortable as possible. Knowing “how long does meth stay in your system?” at this stage helps determine when detox is complete.
  • Behavioral Therapies: Behavioral therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management (CM), can help individuals understand and change the behaviors and thought patterns that lead to meth use.
  • Support Groups: Support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA), can provide a community of individuals who are also in recovery and offer support, encouragement, and accountability.
  • Inpatient Treatment: Inpatient treatment programs provide a structured environment with around-the-clock care and support while individuals detox and receive treatment.
  • Outpatient Treatment: Outpatient treatment programs provide support and therapy on a flexible schedule, allowing individuals to continue their daily responsibilities while receiving treatment.

Don't Wait. Get Help Now at Ripple Ranch Recovery

Ripple Ranch Recovery is an innovative addiction treatment facility that diagnoses, manages, and treats substance use disorders. Our medical team utilizes evidence-based practices and a fundamentally holistic approach to provide effective full-body healing.

In addition to emphasizing abstinence-oriented strategies to avoid and minimize drug-related problems, the treatments at Ripple Ranch Recovery also encourage love, compassion, and respect. We also create customized care plans to fit your requirements and needs during recovery. For more information regarding the question “how long does meth stay in your system?”, contact us today.