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How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?

How long it takes for meth to leave your system varies on several factors.  Although the immediate high may end, methamphetamine can remain in your body for longer. Eventually, meth is metabolized but until this process is complete, you could test positive for methamphetamine on a drug test.

Methamphetamine, also called meth, is a powerful stimulant that speeds up the body’s central nervous system and creates a euphoric high.1 The substance is a Schedule II substance because of its high potential for methamphetamine addiction. Methamphetamine typically comes in the form of a powder and can be smoked, snorted, injected, or snorted.2 Crystal meth is a form of methamphetamine that comes in glass-like fragments. It tends to be more potent than traditional powder methamphetamine.1

Both forms of methamphetamine create a fast euphoric high, but traces of these drugs linger as the body works to metabolize methamphetamine. As a result, meth and crystal meth stay in your system and are detectable on a drug test for longer than the high.

How Long Is the Meth High?

The meth high that is experienced after injecting, smoking, or snorting meth is described by users as powerful but fleeting, dissipating shortly after the drug first hits, and is often described in terms of stages. Other short-term effects may include:5,6,7-13

  • Diarrhea.
  • Diminished appetite.
  • Disordered thinking.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Euphoria.
  • Excessive talking.
  • Increased energy.
  • Itching.
  • Mood changes.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Sweating.
  • Teeth grinding.

How long the effects (both the “high” and short-term side effects) are felt can vary. One report notes that the high from a single 35-milligram dose of crystal meth generally peaks within 5 to 15 minutes and diminish over approximately 8 hours.1 Other reports suggest the methamphetamine high can last up to 16 hours.15 While the effects may no longer be felt by the user, there are still traces of methamphetamine in their system.

Metabolism & The Meth Half-Life

How long meth stays in your system is largely dependent on the metabolism of methamphetamine in the body. When an individual uses methamphetamine, the body immediately begins to absorb the drug into the bloodstream where it is circulated and distributed into the organs. There is high uptake in the brain and lungs, as well as the kidneys and liver.17 The liver metabolizes meth into two major metabolites, one of which is an amphetamine.17 Urinary excretion of the methamphetamine metabolites occurs shortly thereafter.

Meth metabolism does not always include the breakdown of the drug into metabolites. It has been reported that up to 54% of a dose of meth can exit the body exactly as it came in; that is to say, it is not metabolized or processed at all, with the user experiencing no stimulant effects from that specific fraction of the drug.5, 17

The half-life of a drug is the time it takes for the original concentration of the drug that was administered to be reduced by half during the metabolism process. The half-life of meth can vary depending on several factors including the route of administration, but methamphetamine’s half-life has been found to be about:1

  • 25 hours in the urine.
  • 10 hours in the blood.

How Long Does Meth Show in A Drug Test?

How long meth is in your system and detectable by a drug test depends on many factors, including the type of drug test. A meth drug test can take many forms, and each has its own set of pros and cons. There are blood, saliva, hair, and urine drug tests for meth.

  • Blood Test for Meth: Meth can be detected by a blood test within 1-2 hours following ingestion and for up to 1-3 days following the last dose.1, 14
  • Meth Saliva Test: Meth can be detected by a saliva test within 30 minutes to an hour after ingestion and for up to 3 days following the last dose.1, 14
  • Hair Follicle Test for Meth: Traces of meth can stay in your hair and be detectable in a hair follicle test for around 90 days.16
  • Meth Urine Test: Meth can be detected in the urine approximately 2 to 5 hours post-ingestion and anywhere from 3 to 7 days following the last dose.1, 14, 15 Repeated dosing of meth can extend the detection time closer to the 7-day mark as meth will accumulate in the urine.1

False-positive for methamphetamine and amphetamine are possible and have been reported in urine tests with the use of drugs like pseudoephedrine, bupropion, trazodone, chlorpromazine, and labetalol.17

What Factors Affect How Long Meth Can Be Detected in the Body?

How long methamphetamine stays in your system and its detection window will vary slightly from person to person and may be impacted by several different factors including:

  • How often you use meth.
  • If you engaged in a meth binge.
  • The amount of meth you use.
  • Your dose at last use.
  • The route of administration.
  • The functionality of your kidneys and liver.
  • Your age and overall health.
  • The type of test used to detect the drug.
  • Other substances used that may impact the way the liver processes meth. For example, regular, heavy alcohol use will slow down the liver’s ability to metabolize meth and other drugs.16

All these factors can change how quickly your body is able to metabolize meth and consequently, how long meth lasts in your system as well as whether or not it will show up on a drug test.

Effects and Health Risks of Meth

While you may be immediately concerned about how to pass a drug test for meth or how to quickly get meth out of your system, you may want to look at the bigger picture. The differences before and after meth use can be drastic. Meth use and addiction can have serious dangers and long-term consequences including:

  • Dental health problems.
  • Skin sores.
  • Malnutrition.
  • Memory problems.
  • Paranoia.
  • Psychosis.
  • Dependence and addiction.
  • Withdrawal.
  • Overdose.

Some potential warning signs that someone has overdosed include agitation, rapid breathing, dilated pupils, and an elevated heart rate.1 Without proper medical care, an overdose can be life-threatening. Along with overdose, the longer these issues are ignored the worse off they may become until the damage can no longer be undone. If you or someone you care about is using meth, start looking for help sooner rather than later.

Getting Help

While it can be important to understand how long meth stays in your system and the long-term risks of its use, it is more important to get help for yourself or a loved one if you need it.

Professional meth addiction treatment programs aim to help individuals safely stop the use of meth as well as build a strong foundation for lasting recovery. Some common techniques used in these recovery programs include:

  • Group therapy and support groups.
  • Mental health care.
  • Psychotherapy and behavioral therapy.
  • Relapse prevention techniques.
  • Substance use education.
  • Support for withdrawal or a medically-managed detox program.

If you are looking for additional information and resources on meth, let us help. Our admissions navigators are available by phone or text to help you find the right treatment program for you or your loved one.