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How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?

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Methamphetamine, commonly referred to as meth, crystal, ice, or Tina, is a highly addictive synthetic central nervous system stimulant. It is notoriously addictive, with known abuse liability, leading to it being classified as a Schedule II substance in the US; though pharmaceutical formulations exist, much methamphetamine is illicitly manufactured, and any recreational use is highly illegal. In 2018, an estimated 1.9 million (0.7%) Americans aged 12 or older used methamphetamine in the past year.1 The effects of meth can last anywhere between 8-24 hours and can be detected for up to 72 hours in urine and 90 days in hair.

How Long are the Effects of Meth?

Methamphetamine is typically either smoked in a small glass pipe or injected. Both of these methods cause the drug to reach the brain very quickly, with injection being the fastest. This causes a “rush” or “flash” of euphoria—an intensely pleasurable sensation. The drug can also be ingested orally or snorted through the nose, producing a long-lasting high, often marked by increased physical activity, which can last for as long as half a day instead of an intense rush.2

Unlike cocaine, a stimulant that’s quickly removed from and almost completely metabolized in the body, meth remains in the body—largely unchanged by the body’s metabolism—much longer, leading to prolonged stimulant effects. The effects of meth can last anywhere from around 8-24 hours, depending on how much is taken, the time of day, how it was administered (IV, oral, etc.) how well the kidneys and liver are functioning, and the individual’s body chemistry.

What is the Half-Life of Meth?

Meth has a half-life of 9-24 hours. This means that it takes 9-24 hours for the amount of meth in a person’s blood to be reduced by half.

How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?

Urine tests can usually detect meth for up to 72 hours after the last dose. Methamphetamine metabolizes to amphetamine, which means a drug screen will likely be positive for both substances. Typically, the detection interval in urine for amphetamine-type stimulants is 3 to 5 days after last administration.

This interval may be longer in heavy, chronic users; it may be detected in urine for up to a week.

Other ways that meth use can be detected is through tests of hair, blood, and oral fluids. Blood and oral fluid testing can be more useful and accurate than urine testing for detecting recent ingestion; however, both have lower detection intervals than urine testing.3 Meth can be detected by a hair test for up to 90 days after last use, depending on what type of hair test is used. It is more applicable to forensic or research study testing and is typically not used for clinical or workplace testing.3

Body System Time in System
Hair 90 days
Urine 72 hours; more in chronic users

Drug Test - Urine

Methamphetamine is an incredibly harmful drug, and any suspected addiction should be treated as soon as possible. Recovering from meth addiction can be difficult, but the sooner a person seeks treatment, the easier it will be.

Meth Withdrawal

By this point, meth withdrawal symptoms will begin to occur, especially if the individual is a heavy, long-term user. Withdrawal symptoms from this drug are extremely unpleasant and come with intense cravings. This often motivates an individual using meth to take more and then more of the drug. The longer and heavier use is, the longer it takes to leave the system entirely.
Methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Increased appetite
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Inability to feel pleasure (anhedonia)
  • Anger and aggression
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Dizziness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions
  • Psychosis
  • Suicidal ideation

Though not directly life-threatening like the symptoms of opioid or alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal, the psychological effects can lead people in withdrawal from meth to attack others or harm themselves. It’s highly recommended that “cold turkey” withdrawal management from methamphetamine is not attempted without medical supervision.

How to Get Meth out Of Your System

Meth withdrawal can prove dangerous for many people due to its impact on the brain. Meth withdrawal management programs help people safely and comfortably detox from meth in a supportive and supervised environment.

In meth withdrawal management programs, medical professionals help support patients while they allow their bodies to detox from meth. While someone is detoxing from meth, these medical professionals may help patients manage the symptoms of their meth withdrawal.5 Meth withdrawal management, or detox, is often the first step in a SUD treatment program.5

What are the Implications of Second-Hand Meth Smoke?

Researchers aren’t sure yet as to whether breathing in secondhand methamphetamine smoke can cause you to get high, but it can cause you to test positive for methamphetamine.6 More research must be done in this area to confirm the details surrounding this topic.

How Long Does It Take to Get Addicted to Meth?

There is currently a lack of literature proving how long it takes to develop a substance use disorder from meth use. Substance use disorders entail compulsive drug-seeking behavior where someone continues to use their substance of choice despite experiencing negative effects from their addiction.4

There is also insufficient research on whether it is possible to become dependent on meth or experience withdrawal symptoms from meth after using meth only once. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that withdrawal typically occurs when people who chronically use meth stop or cut down their meth use.4

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Last Updated on Dec 16, 2022
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