How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?

Table of Contents

What is Meth?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Methamphetamine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system.Meth was created in the early 1900s as nasal decongestants and inhalers. Unlike amphetamines, meth affects the brain severely and has longer and extremely harmful effects on the body’s central nervous system.1  Read more to learn about the effects, statistics, how long is meth in your system and more.

Effects of Methamphetamine in Your System

There are several effects that methamphetamines have on the body and mind. Some short-term meth side effects are as follows:2

Alertness

Energetic

Agitation

Aggression

Increased sex drive

Extremely talkative

Rapid/shallow breathing

Rapid heart rate

Some long-term meth side effects include:2

Breathing issues

Heart damage

Arrhythmia

High blood pressure

Seizures

Dilated eyes

Chest pains

Confusion, Paranoia, and Agitation

Stomach pain

Slow or quick heartbeat

Sexually aggressive behavior

Huge risk of depression, paranoia, and anxiety

Troubles feeling pleasure

Major health problems

Heart disease

Methamphetamine Statistics

According to the NIDA, around 1.6 million people are using methamphetamines in the previous year, with 774,000 of them used within the past month. In addition, in 2017, almost a million people over the age of 12 were struggling with methamphetamine use disorder.3

Over the past few years, abuse of psychostimulants like methamphetamines has led to over 10,000 overdose deaths in 2017 alone. To put that in perspective, there were only 547 in 1999 and 1,378 in 2007. However, methamphetamine use has dropped from 68/100,000 people to 49/100,000 people from 2005 to 2015.3

How Long is Methamphetamine in your system?

It takes around 4 days for methamphetamines to leave the body. Around half the drug will leave the body within the first ten hours. Meth symptoms can last anywhere between six to twelve hours. 4

Meth symptoms also depend on how the drug enters a person’s system. When a person consumes meth orally, they will see peak symptoms around 2-4 hours in. However, if an individual decides to snort, smoke, or inject methamphetamines, they could see symptoms within a few minutes.4

Detecting Meth in Drug Tests

There are several reasons why someone would need to take a drug test. It might be required by a company, a school, or for mandatory testing. There are several types of test someone could do, including:

Urine

One way people detect meth is through a urine test. The person being tested will urinate into the cup. Then, they will take it to be tested inside of a lab.5 Meth can show up in your urine well after you have taken it. Normally, it lasts between one to four days for a single use. However, heavy use of methamphetamines can stay in your system for up to a week.6

Blood

Blood tests can be used alongside urine tests or on their own. They will simply draw some blood and test it in a lab. Normally, meth stays inside of a person’s bloodstream one to three days after the last time a person used it.6

Saliva

Another form of testing is through saliva tests. A doctor might swab your mouth or ask you to spit into a tube. They will then test the sample. Methamphetamines are still detectable in saliva one to four days after use.6

Hair

Hair testing is not as reliable as the other forms of testing, but it is popular because it can go back much further in time. In this test, they will take a sample of hair and test it. Methamphetamines are detectable in your system for up to 90 days after the last time you used the drug.6

False Positive Testing

Sadly, no drug test is perfect. There is a chance that a person has a false positive test. This result normally happens when they are on a different medication. To avoid false positives, make sure you disclose all medications you have taken recently to a doctor before testing. Some of the medications that can lead to false positives are:6

  • Antidepressants
  • Metformin
  • Ephedra
  • OTC medications
  • Trandate
  • Ritalin

Factors That Affect Meth Detection Time

The period it takes to detect methamphetamines depends on several factors. The timetable could vary based on several factors.

Low functioning livers or kidneys could cause methamphetamines to be processed slower, leading to it staying in your system for longer. If someone is struggling with meth use disorder, it will take an extended time for meth to completely leave the system.6

Even though the effects are quicker, injecting methamphetamines leads to it staying in the body much longer compared to swallowing and digesting it. In addition, mixing methamphetamines with other substances like Adderall could extend the amount of time it stays in the body.

Finally, having a high metabolism can lead to quicker processing of meth when compared to people with a slow metabolism. Therefore, someone who is more physically active, younger, and healthier might get meth out of their system faster than someone else.6

The Dangers of Meth Use

Meth Overdose

Thousands of people die every year due to meth overdose. If you or a loved one is showing signs of meth overdose, seek medical attention right away. It is possible to overdose the first time someone uses meth. A person can also overdose due to buildup in the body. Many times, people overdose by accident. Some symptoms of meth overdose include:
  • Breathing issues
  • Signs of a heart attack
  • Signs of a stroke
  • Extreme chest and stomach pains
  • Confusion
  • Higher body temperatures
  • Abnormal blood pressure
  • Losing consciousness
  • Hyperaggressive behavior
  • Mental health issues such as paranoia
  • Seizures
  • Intense and more rapid side effects of meth use

Meth Withdrawal

There are several withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • A sudden increase in appetite
  • Feeling agitated
  • Weariness and fatigue
  • Troubles sleeping
  • Excessive sweating
  • Hallucinations and paranoia
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Tremors
  • Struggles with motivation
  • Red and itchy eyes
  • Dehydration
  • Other mental health issues

Meth Rehab Options

Methamphetamine is a very addictive drug, and it can be difficult to recover from it. As always, it is best to seek out treatment at a facility where you can be under the supervision of medical professionals during the withdrawal stage, detox stage, and beginning stages of recovery.

Meth Detox

One of the first steps of addiction treatment is detox. Most doctors recommend a medically assisted detox that would be followed by therapy.7 The amount of medical intervention needed will depend on the severity of the addiction.

Treatment Options

Another treatment option is to go through cognitive behavioral therapy, a form of therapy that focuses on changing behaviors to stop unhealthy habits and patterns in a person’s life.7 Normally, the therapist will help the patient learn different ways to cope with stress. CBT is best when done alongside a medical detox.

Meth stays in the system well after use, and it can cause major issues, including overdose. If you or a loved one are struggling with meth use disorder, please reach out to a medical professional right away. They have resources that can help.

Resources

  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-methamphetamine
  2. https://www.webmd.com/connect-to-care/addiction-treatment-recovery/methamphetamine/little-known-meth-use-side-effects
  3. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-scope-methamphetamine-misuse-in-united-states
  4. https://drugpolicy.org/drug-facts/how-long-meth-stays-in-system
  5. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=amphetamine_urine_screen
  6. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=amphetamine_urine_screen
  7. https://www.webmd.com/connect-to-care/addiction-treatment-recovery/treatments-for-meth-addiction