How Long Do Amphetamines Stay in Your System?

Amphetamines are stimulants people take for various reasons. There are prescribed medications that classify as a stimulant and there are street drugs or narcotics that also fall into the category. Amphetamine was first synthesized in 1887, and methamphetamine was discovered in 1919. By 1943, both drugs were widely available to treat a range of disorders, including narcolepsy, depression, obesity, alcoholism and the behavioral syndrome called minimal brain dysfunction, which we know today as Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder, or ADHD. These drugs are known as “uppers,” “speed,” “pep pills,” “study drugs,” and “go pills.” Amphetamines carry with them a huge potential for addiction and abuse because people perceive themselves as having more energy or focus while on them. Amphetamine medications can be effective for attention disorders and narcolepsy, however the chance for tolerance and dependency is extremely high.
amphetamines in system
Amphetamines work inside the brain and central nervous system to stimulate or increase cognitive function. This has an affect on a person’s performance, alertness, focus, endurance, arousal, motivation and are often known to cause a sense of euphoria.

The reason for this is because stimulants work inside the brain by increasing dopamine levels. These are neurotransmitters responsible for movement, attention and pleasure centers in the brain. When someone consumes a stimulant, a therapeutic effect begins to happen inside the brain, which causes it to release more dopamine at higher levels than the brain is naturally capable of.  This creates a sense of euphoria, which often is what gets people hooked.

Globally, the United Nations Office on Drug and Crimes reported a study that estimates between 155 – 250 million people, or 3.5% to 5.7% of the population aged 15-64, had used illicit substances at least once in the previous year. Cannabis users made up the largest number of illicit drug users (129-190 million people) and amphetamine-type stimulants are the second most commonly used illicit drugs, followed by opiates and cocaine.
When discussing the use and abuse of amphetamines you must take into consideration that an amphetamine a both a specific drug and it’s also the name of a class of drugs.

The class of amphetamine-type stimulants include:

  • Methamphetamine
  • Adderall
  • Ritalin
  • Concerta
  • MDMA also known as Ecstasy
  • Dexedrine and Dextrostat
  • Desoxyn, the prescription form of methamphetamine
  • Benzedrine
As a rule of thumb usually half the amount of the amphetamine you take is eliminated from the body in less than 11 hours. However, if you are a heavy or chronic user, amphetamines can remain in the system for up to a week.

Usually a single dose of amphetamines can last up to 4 hours in which case the user will feel the effects. The peak life, or highest concentration, of amphetamines for a single dose is about 3 hours, with the peak of the amphetamine metabolite happening around the 12-hour mark. The average half-life for amphetamine is approximately 10 hours for ingestion methods outside of injection. Intravenous half-life is slightly longer at just over 12 hours.

Amphetamine abuse has become increasingly more prevalent because prescriptions have been more widely written and the illegal production of stimulants has made them more easily attainable through illegal means.

If a person is taking larger doses than they are prescribed or administering a dose in a way that is not prescribed, this can rapidly increase the brain’s dopamine levels in a very magnified amount. This disrupts communication inside brain cells, which causes a euphoric affect. The euphoria that happens as a result of this is what makes the risk for addiction much higher.

People who abuse amphetamines or methamphetamines are often simply trying to obtain the sense of euphoria they first felt when taking the drugs, but over time it takes larger quantities to feel that same way.  Tolerance builds up and therefore creates a dependency on the stimulant in order to feel the same effects as their first use.

People who have become addicted to amphetamines often want to know how long it takes for them to be removed from the system.

If you’ve quit taking amphetamines or are considering discontinuing your sue of them, you should consult with your doctor first as there are withdrawal symptoms to be aware of and prepared for. Often a doctor can recommend a tapering offer period and regimen to mitigate withdrawal.

Once someone has completely discontinued using the amphetamines, they normally want to know how long it will take to be removed from their systems. Naturally, the process of elimination from the body varies slightly from person to person.

Several factors play a role in how long amphetamines linger inside the body. The most influential factors to consider when coming of stimulants are:

  • Age: Age plays a dynamic role in organ function as well as metabolism rates. The younger a person is, the faster their metabolism is usually going to be and the better their normal organ functions will be. The older someone is, the less likely they are to have a fast and fully functioning metabolism and organ function. Therefore, age is a huge factor in how quickly someone can eliminate toxins from his or her body.
  • Body height / weight / fat: We must look at height, weight and fat in comparison to the dosage amounts someone has been taking. If they have been taking amounts disproportionately to these factors, their elimination process will vary significantly to that of someone who is within normal proportions.
  • Genetics: Addiction is often a function of genetic make up, which is something to consider here. Also, genetics dictate a person’s body and their metabolism. A person’s body type and genetic make up will affect how someone is able to process stimulants through their system.
  • Function of the Kidney & Liver: A person with a dysfunctional liver or kidney is going to have a harder time eliminating toxins from amphetamines than someone with a healthy, fully functioning liver and kidney. Those organs are essential for elimination and thus will affect clearance timeframes.
  • Metabolism: While diet, supplements and fitness can affect metabolic rates in someone, the rule of thumb is that the higher a person’s metabolism, the faster they will be able to process and excrete drugs, food and other liquids. 
  • Frequency of use: The frequency at which someone us using amphetamines and the amount in which they are using will greatly affect how quickly they will be removed from the system. If someone is a heavy user, they are going to take longer to rid their body of a drug than someone who only took a single use, one time.
According to a guide provided by Drugs and Alcohol Information and Support, they indicate some average times for amphetamines to leave the body. These timeframes suggest rough approximations and can be affected by various factors timeframes.

  • Urine: 1 to 3 days
  • Hair: Up to 90 days
  • Blood: 10 – 12 hours
Understanding how long amphetamines stay in the body is helpful, however knowledge alone will not prevent withdrawal symptoms and is often not enough to break the cycle of addiction with stimulants. Interestingly enough, amphetamine withdrawal symptoms are exactly the same as those for cocaine withdrawal.

Some of amphetamine withdrawal symptoms to be aware of are:

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Psychomotor agitation
  • Increased appetite
  • Vivid or unpleasant dream

According to a study reported by the Australian Department of health, a small sample of amphetamine dependent people tried self-detoxification. Fifty participants were monitored during their experiences. Of the 50 participants, 48 had injected regularly and seven were abstinent at the time of the study. A total of 43 people, or 86%, reported withdrawal symptoms following their discontinuation of amphetamine use.

The most frequently reported withdrawal symptoms reported were:

  • Irritability (78%),
  • Aches and pains (58%),
  • Depressed mood (50%)
  • Impaired social functioning (46%).

The participants reported that their symptoms persisted for between five days and three weeks. Relapse was common (most within four weeks of cessation) and the reasons given for reinstatement of use following self-detoxification included the wide availability of amphetamines, depression, boredom, peer pressure, persistent withdrawal symptoms and enjoyment of using. Surprisingly, no participants reported craving as a reason for relapse.

As can be inferred from the study, even once amphetamines have been cleared from the system, the chance for relapse is very high. It is important to get into a treatment program or support group to help create sustained, long-term recovery.

Methamphetamine Facts, DrugPolicy.org, <http://www.drugpolicy.org/drug-facts/methamphetamine-facts>

Drug Statistics and Trends, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, <https://www.unodc.org/documents/wdr/WDR_2010/2.0_Drug_statistics_and_Trends.pdf>

Stimulant ADHD Medications: Methylphenidate and Amphetamines, National Institute on Drug Abuse, <https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/stimulant-adhd-medications-methylphenidate-amphetamines>

How Long Do Drugs Stay In Your System, Drug and Alcohol Information and Support, <http://www.drugs.ie/drugs_info/about_drugs/how_long_do_drugs_stay_in_your_system/>

The amphetamine withdrawal syndrome, Australian Health Department, <http://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-toc~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-3~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-3-7~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-3-7-aws>

How Long Do Amphetamines Stay in Your System
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How Long Do Amphetamines Stay in Your System was last modified: May 18th, 2017 by The Recovery Village