Substance Use

How Long Does Methamphetamine Stay in Your System?

meth crystals in bag

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Facing a Methamphetamine Drug Test?

Although widely used as a recreational drug (often called meth, glass, ice, crank, or speed), methamphetamine is also prescribed as Desoxyn to treat ADHD.This drug can look like a white powder or be made into a glass-like form, referred to as crystal meth. 

It is important to note that not all methamphetamine is created equal. Although most is made in labs, people sometimes make methamphetamine in their homes, mixing chemicals with cold medicines.

If you are taking a methamphetamine drug test, here’s what you need to know about how long the drug stays in your system, and how to get help.

What Are the Factors for How Long Methamphetamine Stay In Your System?

Once taken, how long methamphetamine stays in your system will depend on several factors — mainly the way it’s consumed.

Detection times may vary depending on:

  • The user’s overall health, including how well their kidneys and liver function
  • History of use as the more frequently methamphetamine is used, the longer the detection times 
  • Method of use, such as smoking vs. injecting vs. oral consumption 
  • The metabolic rate of the user affected by activity level, age, and overall health 

How this drug is taken will affect how quickly the effects are felt. It will take several days for methamphetamine to leave the body in most cases completely.

However, certain tests can detect this drug for days or even weeks. 

The effects of methamphetamine (and how long it takes to leave your body) may be altered when combined with other substances.

A classic example is combining methamphetamine with alcohol because it helps reduce feelings of jitteriness. Since alcohol inhibits methamphetamine metabolism, it takes longer for methamphetamine to leave the body. 

The same is true when methamphetamine is combined with substances such as cocaine or MDMA. This can create unpredictable (and often dangerous) effects and increase the time it takes for all drugs to leave your system.The liver and kidneys have to work that much harder, that much longer.  

So, how long does methamphetamine stay in your body? This guide tells all. 

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How Is Methamphetamine Detected on Drug Tests?

How long methamphetamine is detectable depends on several variables, including the method of use, the type of test administered, and the user’s physical characteristics. 

Much like other drugs, testing hair provides the longest detectable window, up to 90 days.

Urine testing following single-use is successful one to four days following that initial use, whereas heavy use may be detected for up to a week. This type of test is the most common for several reasons:

  • Ease of retrieving a sample 
  • Speed of analysis 
  • Low cost 

Saliva testing can detect methamphetamine within one to four days.

Blood testing can detect methamphetamine within one to three days.

Blood tests are often the most accurate, as this method measures the presence of methamphetamine or its metabolites at the time of testing. The issue is that this type of test is invasive, more time-consuming, and expensive. 

Myths circulate the internet that “baking soda bombs” can help users pass drug tests. Users are instructed to make bombs made of baking soda, water, and bleach.

There is no evidence that this works, and ingesting bleach has significant health risks.

The only way to pass a drug test is to stop using and allow your body to eliminate the drug naturally. Psychological and behavioral cues are often considered when administering a test to detect methamphetamine. 

How Is Methamphetamine Metabolized in the Body?

To answer the question, “How long does methamphetamine stay in your body?” you must dive deeper into how it’s metabolized. 

To understand how methamphetamine is metabolized, it’s important to discuss its half-life. 

This is the time it takes for an initial dose to reach half of what it was. In this case, the average half-life of methamphetamine is 10-12 hours.

This means around 10-12 hours for half of the initial dose to be eliminated or metabolized. 

Although methamphetamine and cocaine create similar physiological and behavioral effects, there are some significant differences, especially concerning how these substances are metabolized in the body.

It takes approximately 12 hours for 50% of methamphetamine to leave the body, compared to 1 hour for cocaine. 

Once taken, methamphetamine is absorbed into the bloodstream regardless of the method. It is then distributed to multiple organs, with the greatest uptake occurring in the liver, lungs, brain, and kidneys.

The kidneys eliminate the majority of methamphetamine and its metabolites through urine.

How methamphetamine breaks down in the body will also depend on what it’s made. Some of the common substances used to make methamphetamine include:

  • Sodium hydroxide, lye 
  • Toilet bowl cleaner 
  • Nail polish remover 
  • Anhydrous ammonia, which is used to clean or fertilize 
  • Battery acid 
  • Iodine crystals 
  • Pseudoephedrine, a common decongestant 

If you or your loved one are suffering from a methamphetamine addiction, Zinnia Health offers comprehensive, individualized treatment plans at facilities across the country. Learn more about our substance abuse services

How Long Does Methamphetamine Take to Wear Off?

Taking methamphetamine creates a false sense of well-being and energy. That is why many users will push their bodies beyond the limit.

Negative effects often result, ranging from disturbed sleep patterns to irritability, aggressiveness to delusions of power — and these are just the short-term effects.

Long-term, methamphetamine can cause irreversible damage, including damaged blood vessels in the brain, organ damage, and an irregular heartbeat. 

The methamphetamine molecule is structurally similar to both amphetamine and dopamine. Methamphetamine works by creating more of the chemical dopamine in the brain.

As levels increase, brain function is altered. Over time, you can easily become addicted.

There are two ways that methamphetamine affects dopamine levels:

  • It increases the release of dopamine, which leads to stronger nerve signals.
  • It prevents the reuptake of dopamine, trapping dopamine, and increasing stimulation.

The result is up to a 1,500% increase in dopamine. Although this chemical significantly influences your brain, it is also utilized throughout your entire body, initiating your fight-or-flight response. 

Once taken, the primary effects last anywhere between four to eight hours, with residual effects lasting up to 12 hours. Although these effects wear off within a day, methamphetamine’s metabolite, amphetamine, can be detected long after the effects wear off. 

When methamphetamine is swallowed, the peak effects are generally experienced within two to four hours.

When smoked, injected, or snorted, peak concentration occurs within minutes.

Feeling the effects of methamphetamine begins very rapidly when taken intravenously, snorted, or smoked, which are the most common methods. 

Methamphetamine users tend to exhibit a “binge and crash” pattern. This means that the desired effects of methamphetamine begin to wear off before the drug has been fully metabolized.

Users may take more to maintain their high. For regular users, this can lead to what’s known as a “run,” which is when someone takes methamphetamine for several days without sleeping. 

The Stages of the Meth Experience 

Before the effects of methamphetamine wear off, users experience many emotional and physical symptoms

  • First, users experience a sudden rush as their heart rate increases. Unlike the initial rush of cocaine (when injected or smoked), which lasts for around two to five minutes, a methamphetamine rush will often continue for up to 30 minutes
  • Next is the high, which lasts anywhere from four to 16 hours. 
  • The binge follows, referring to a user’s urge to maintain the initial high. The binge phase can last anywhere from a couple of days to more than two weeks, depending on the situation. The goal here is to experience another rush. 
  • Tweaking happens at the end of the binge when a rush or high is no longer experienced. It is not uncommon for users to enter a state of psychosis, unable to sleep for days. 
  • The crash happens when the body shuts down and forces a user to sleep, sometimes for days. 
  • Alcohol isn’t the only substance that causes a hangover. A meth hangover leads to mental, emotional, and physical symptoms. Lasting anywhere from two to 14 days, this is the stage that encourages addictive behavior. The quick “solution” is to use more to cope with the feelings experienced during this stage. Learn more about the early signs of meth addiction
  • Withdrawal can be extremely painful and difficult, which is why you should seek the assistance of a methamphetamine detox center

Get Help For Your Methamphetamine Addiction Today

Overcoming a methamphetamine addiction is not easy on your own. The first major step, the detoxification process, can be incredibly challenging, so many users keep using it to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

These symptoms generally begin 24 hours after last use, with physical symptoms peaking within three to four days. Within two weeks, most of these physical symptoms start to go away. But the psychological effects can linger for days, months, or even years. 

It is not uncommon for users to want to stop using but fail because the withdrawal process is far too painful and distressing. That is why medically supervised detox is so valuable in terms of success rates and safety. 

During medical detox, several medications are used to help ease the process of recovery. These medications will be given in conjunction with various treatment strategies, including evidence-based therapy.

This combination offers the best hope for individuals to experience a successful recovery. 

Ongoing meth treatment is often needed to maintain sobriety and positive mental health. This multi-step process includes detox, core treatment, the transition phase, family in therapy, post-treatment support, and more. 

If you or your loved one are ready to begin the journey toward a healthy future, free from meth, Zinnia Health is here for you. Get in touch with us to discuss your unique needs today.

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