How Long Does Meth Stay In Your System?

Learn more about methamphetamine, how long meth stays in your system, and the signs and symptoms of addiction.
Meth can be highly addictive

Table of Contents

What Is Meth?

Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, is a stimulant drug. While it was originally used in the 20th century as nasal congestion, it has since been classified by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule II Stimulant. These qualifications mean that a doctor can prescribe non-refillable methamphetamine as a short-term treatment. Methamphetamine prescriptions are low-dosage and most often use to treat severe ADHD. In high doses, however, meth can be highly addictive, and it can come in illegal forms.

Effects of Methamphetamine

As a stimulant, methamphetamine increases the production of certain chemicals in the body, including dopamine, that incites positive feelings. Stimulants act as a catalyst in communication between the brain and the rest of the body, increasing activity and frequency. Brand names for medical methamphetamine include Desoxyn and Desoxyn Gradumet.1 Street names for methamphetamine include:

Is Meth Addictive?

Meth is highly addictive. As a stimulant, meth increases the amount of dopamine present in the body. Dopamine is known as one of the brain’s “feel-good” chemicals, and elevated levels can incite a euphoric response in the body. As a result, the body can become accustomed to this elevated feeling and will experience negative changes when the regular occurrence of the substance in the body ends, which is known as withdrawal.

Because of the withdrawal symptoms, meth addiction occurs in a series of “binges and crashes” in which the substance is reintroduced to the body rapidly to prevent any withdrawal symptoms from occurring.

Statistics of Meth Abuse

According to annual studies, the occurrence of meth abuse and meth addiction is on a rise in the United States. In 2017, the National Institute of Health conducted a survey in which an estimated 1.6 million people reported having experience meth abuse within the year. As a result, meth addiction is being treated as a nationwide epidemic.

Signs and Symptoms of Meth Addiction

When methamphetamine regularly enters the body, side effects can develop. These signs and symptoms can vary among patients, and some may not occur at all. Some of the most common meth side effects that can occur during addiction include:

There is also the medical phenomenon of meth mouth. This term is the name for a variety of dental complications that can occur with meth addiction.3 Meth mouth includes severe tooth decay and loss as well as an increased risk for cavities and oral disease.

Studies have also shown that, when the substance regularly enters the body, meth side effects can include DNA damage.4 These can lead to an increased chance for mutation during replication, leaving the body more at risk for cancer and other conditions, such as HIV.5

Due to methamphetamine’s effect on DNA, there is also an increased risk for birth defects and complications if the substance enters the body during pregnancy.6

How Long Does Meth Stay In Your System

Two different stages occur once meth enters the body. The first stage is after the initial entry. This period is when methamphetamine is actively impacting the central nervous system, and it can last up to 14 hours. The second stage occurs once the active stimulant qualities of methamphetamine wear off. This period occurs after the 14th hour and can incite negative emotions. During this time, if methamphetamine enters the body again, the system returns to the first stage. If it does not, the withdrawal process, which will be discussed in further detail below, will begin. There are several factors, such as genetics, weight, and dosage which can affect how long meth is active in the system. However, there are different tests and screenings available to detect whether meth is present.7

Factors That Affect Detection Time

Several factors can affect the rate of detection in the body. These factors directly impact how the body reacts to and metabolizes substances and include:

Genetics

Age

Body mass or body fat

Dosage

Dosage occurrence

If other substances are taken at the time

Urinary pH

Detecting Meth in Drug Tests

There are a variety of methods for detecting the presence of methamphetamine in the body. Each type of test or screening can detect meth at different rates, with some proving useful at 90 days while others are only capable of detection within a few hours after the substance has entered the body.7

Urine

Seen in both professional and medical settings, urine tests are one of the commonly conducted drug tests. It can detect a variety of substances, including methamphetamine. Urine tests can be used to detect the presence of a substance up to 72 hours after the last dosage.

Blood

Substances are quickly metabolized and broken down in the bloodstream. As a result, while methamphetamine can be detected using a blood drug test, the window for detection is slim compared to other methods. Blood tests can be used to detect the presence of a substance up to 48 hours after the last dosage.

Saliva

Like blood, saliva tests offer one of the shortest detection windows by detecting substances up to 48 hours after the last dosage. This factor is because substances are quickly metabolized and removed from the membranes and secretions of the mouth, making it more difficult to detect them.

Hair

Hair tests provide some of the most comprehensive results, showing what substance entered the body when it first entered the body, and when it last entered the body. These results can detect methamphetamine up to 90 days after the last dosage.

False Positive Testing

When dealing with methamphetamine testing, there is a possibility for false positive. False positives occur most often with urine tests. Because meth shares its chemical make-up with several other substances, including over-the-counter or prescription medicines, such substances can trigger a positive result even when meth has not entered the body. Here are some of the substances that could cause a false positive:

Signs and Symptoms of Meth Overdose

Recognizing the differences between meth side effects and a meth overdose is important. An overdose of methamphetamine is a medical emergency and will require professional aid to prevent long-term or permanent effects.

Here are some of the signs and symptoms to look for in case of a suspected overdose:

If you or someone you know is showing signs of a meth overdose, seek medical help right away.

Meth Withdrawal

Compared to other substances, it can take a while for the body to metabolize the remnants of meth and enter the withdrawal period. It can take up to 90 days before the body begins to experience and recognize withdrawal symptoms. On the meth timeline, the first 48 hours after methamphetamine enters the body is often known as the “crash”. This period is when the first, minor symptoms of withdrawal occur, such as a return to normal energy levels along with cramping or sweating as the body begins to metabolize and eliminate the substance. After 48 hours and up to one month, the most severe symptoms will occur. The overall withdrawal symptoms of meth most commonly develop in three main forms: depression, fatigue, and Anhedonia, or the lack of pleasure. During this time, due to meth’s addictive qualities and the body’s accommodation to the substance, cravings may be experienced. The body may also experience other meth withdrawal symptoms, such as:

Increased appetite

Agitation

Dehydration

Anxiety

Fever

Hallucinations

Gastrointestinal upset

After two to three weeks, most physical symptoms fade, and psychological symptoms, including cravings, grow in severity. After a month, a majority of the symptoms will have faded. However, the psychological symptoms are capable of lasting for several months afterward.

Meth Rehab Options

With rehabilitation, there are several options to recover from meth addiction. These include in-patient rehabilitation, medication, and therapy.

Meth Detox

To help combat the discomfort associated with withdrawal symptoms while still working towards recovery, a meth detox is often established. This allows the body to fully metabolize and eliminate any traces of the substance while providing a safe place to process any withdrawal symptoms.

Meth detoxes are conducted by professionals in a rehabilitation setting and involve three different steps to ensure as much comfort as possible during recovery: an evaluation, stabilization, and transition to recovery.

During a meth detox, medical professionals may find it best to provide prescription medicines to help combat withdrawal symptoms. These are most often given and regulated through the stabilization process.

During the transition to recovery, a medical professional will guide the person with the substance use disorder to long-term recovery by evaluating and recommending different treatment options.

Treatment Options

There are other medical treatment options to aid in recovery from meth addiction. Most of these methods consist of behavioral therapies conducted in a rehabilitation setting.

Contingency management (CM) and Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) are the most common therapies used to aid in meth addiction recovery.

Resources

  1. https://www.drugs.com/ingredient/methamphetamine.html
  2. https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Methamphetamine-2020_0.pdf
  3. https://doaj.org/article/40bcb3ae50bd4bff94c661e527d98ab3
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0278691519301632?via%3Dihub
  5. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine
  6. https://www.thieme-connect.de/products/ejournals/abstract/10.1055/s-0043-102953
  7. https://americanaddictioncenters.org/meth-treatment/how-long-in-system

If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
(888) 744-9969 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.

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