How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?
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Substance abuse has been a problem in America for decades. Methamphetamine in particular has become especially problematic, due to the many dangerous side effects associated with it. Just as with any other drug, those who use this substance often have questions about how long it takes for meth to leave your system. Perhaps you recently used meth and are now trying to pass a drug test. Perhaps you’re about to enroll in a treatment program for meth addiction and are curious about the detox process. Some of the most common questions related to meth in the body include “How long does meth stay in your urine?” and “How long does crystal meth stay in your system?”
Methamphetamine is a very dangerous drug that can wreak havoc on the body, including the brain, skin and teeth. In 2015, the National Drug Threat Assessment Summary reported that methamphetamine was:
- The greatest drug threat in 33% of responding areas.
- Easily accessible in 42.2% of responding areas.
- The catalyst of the majority of violent crimes in 38.2% of responding areas.
- The catalyst of the majority of property damage in 33.4% of responding areas.
Moreover, reports of crystal meth to the National Forensic Laboratory Information System have increased by 53.3% since 2009, and meth seizures along the southern border increased by 20% from 2013 to 2014.
However, the dangers and terrors of the opioid epidemic have ensnared the media, pulling our attention away from people in desperate need of help. To fill that information gap, we have compiled some information about the drug, its side effects, how long it remains in your body, and what kind of treatment options are available for a meth use disorder. If you’ve asked yourself, “How long does methamphetamine stay in your system?” or “How long does methamphetamine stay in your urine?” you can find the answers on this page.
Why Do People Use Meth?
Methamphetamine hydrochloride is a powder that ranges in color from white to light brown or a chunky crystal that looks like ice. On the street, it can be known as “crank,” “crystal,” “glass,” “ice,” “meth,” “rock candy,” or “speed.”
It’s manufactured in laboratories using either l-ephedrine or d-pseudoephedrine along with sodium or lithium in condensed liquid ammonia, or red phosphorus and hydriodic acid. It stimulates the central nervous system and sympathetic nervous system, and also reduces appetite.
Meth can be snorted or used orally, but heavy users tend to inject or smoke it.
What Is Methamphetamine?
People use meth for reasons that vary wildly. Some are drawn to the effects, which include:
- Intense euphoria
- Lessened depression
- Reduced fatigue
- Weight control
Others may be using meth because cocaine availability has decreased over the past several years and meth is a cheaper drug with similar, more potent effects. Many dealers and distributors are selling both meth and cocaine to keep their income up and their customers supplied, as Drug Enforcement Agency Field Divisions in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and St. Louis are reporting.
What Problems Can Meth Cause?
One problem with meth is that, generally, it’s 60-90% pure and mostly made from d-pseudoephedrine. This makes it easier for users to overdose.
People will often use alcohol alongside meth during the withdrawal phase to avoid depression, apathy, and irritability, which only adds negative effects. This combination can increase the risk of alcohol poisoning since stimulants prevent people from realizing how much they’ve had to drink. It also raises your heart rate about 24BPM more than using meth alone.
But on its own, meth can be devastating to the body. Side-effects can include:
- Blood poisoning
- Collapsed blood vessels
- Infection with viral hepatitis or HIV
- Light sensitivity
- Picking at your skin
- Poor dental hygiene (“meth mouth”)
- Violent behavior
- Weight loss
How Do You Test for Meth Abuse?
Various bodily substances can be tested in a number of settings, depending on the circumstances.
Testing for Meth in Blood
Blood tests are used by the police, by drug treatment centers, and by sports administrations. Blood is taken either via a finger prick or a needle in an arm vein.
Testing for Meth in Urine
How long does meth stay in your urine? Urine tests are used for workplace screening, by drug treatment centers, and by sports administrations. The suspected user would urinate into a cup, and a dipstick would test the contents.
Testing for Meth in Saliva
Saliva tests are used for workplace screening. A piece of absorbent material is put in the mouth or on the tongue.
Testing for Meth in Hair
Hair tests are used by sports administrations and in justice settings. About 40-50 strands of hair are cut from the scalp at the crown of the head and tested.
How Long Can Meth Be Detected Through Testing?
How long does meth stay in your system? This is a commonly asked question regarding methamphetamine. Meth’s average half-life is 10.1 hours, though main effects generally last 4-8 hours and aftereffects can last about 12. Whether or not meth can be detected in your body depends on the kind of test used.
- Blood tests can detect meth after use and for up to 24-72 hours.
- Urine tests can detect meth 4-6 hours after use and for up to 3-6 days.
- Saliva tests can detect meth within 5-10 minutes after use and for up to 72 hours.
- Hair tests can detect meth within 10-14 days after use and for up to 90 days.
What Are the Signs of a Meth Use Disorder?
Symptoms of a substance use disorder (SUD) include:
- Being unable to recognize significant problems as a result of use or to consistently abstain from use
- Craving the substance in question
- Going through cycles of remission and relapse
- Not being able to control one’s behavior
Meth users will often:
- Be moody and irritable
- Feel very confident or powerful
- Have a “chemical” smell on their breath
- Have a high energy level
- Have dilated pupils and bloodshot eyes
- Have poor hygiene
- Look flushed, anxious, nervous, or tense
- Repetitiously pick their skin or pull their hair
- Suddenly go into severe depressions
- Sweat excessively
- Talking fast and often
What Are the Available Treatment Options?
The best treatment options for a meth use disorder are behavioral therapies:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you change your patterns of thinking and responding to external stressors.
- Contingency management allows users to exchange negative drug tests for either vouchers or prizes. Motivational Incentives for Enhancing Drug Abuse Recovery (MIEDAR) is an example of such a program.
- The Matrix Model combines CBT with contingency management, incorporating individual behavioral therapy and counseling, educating your loved ones, 12-step program support, drug testing, and encouragement for sobriety-based activities.
A stay in a long-term rehabilitation center can help guide you through detox and recovery. Living in a half-way house after rehab can also promote a sober lifestyle. To get started, you can reach out to us, or use the crystal meth hotline. Once you lived a life without meth. You can do it again.