Methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth or meth, is a powerful, long-acting stimulant drug. Although it is a Schedule II Controlled Substance because there are pharmaceutical formulations, meth is highly addictive and, as a result, is very rarely prescribed. In 2021, about 2.5 million people reported using meth and about 1.6 million had a meth use disorder.
As a long-acting drug, meth’s effects can last anywhere between 6-24 hours and can be detected in urine for about 72 hours after the last dose. However, various factors such as the dose you took, how often you use meth, and biological differences can affect how long meth stays in your system.
How Long Do the Effects of Meth Last?
Meth is usually smoked using a small glass pipe, but some people inject it. Either way, the drug reaches the brain quickly and produces a strong rush of euphoria. After the rush wears off, people may feel energized, confident, talkative, and more.
Common side effects of meth include:
- Increased heart rate
- Elevated blood pressure
- Dilated pupils
- Decreased appetite
- Increased mental alertness
These effects can last anywhere from 8-24 hours depending on the dose taken and individual body chemistry. As the effects of meth wear off, some people experience a “crash” characterized by fatigue, depression, increased appetite, and suicidal thoughts.
Meth Metabolism and Half-Life
Methamphetamine is metabolized primarily in the liver by enzymes belonging to the cytochrome P450 system, specifically the CYP2D6 and CYP3A4 enzymes. The primary metabolite of methamphetamine is amphetamine, which also has stimulant effects. Both methamphetamine and amphetamine are further metabolized into inactive compounds before being excreted from the body, primarily through urine.
The half-life of a substance is the time it takes for half of the substance to be eliminated from the body. For meth, the average half-life is around 10 to 12 hours, but can be up to 24 hours. This means that after this time, approximately half of the drug has been metabolized and excreted from the body. It takes about 4-5 half-lives for meth to leave the body completely, however, metabolites may be left behind that can be detected for several days after the last dose.
Factors such as individual differences in metabolism, liver function, hydration levels, and other medications or substances consumed can influence the rate at which meth is metabolized and eliminated from the system. People who use meth more frequently or in higher doses may require more time to clear traces of it from their system.
How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?
Meth can stay in your system for several days. Different types of drug tests can detect meth for varying lengths of time. The detection times mentioned below are estimations based on the average individual and dose and can vary based on individual differences in metabolism, frequency of use, dosage, and other factors.
The most widely used type of drug test is a urine test. They may be used for pre-employment screenings, doctor’s visits, legal processes, and more.
Meth can typically be detected in urine for up to 1-4 days after last use. However, in chronic users or with higher doses, it might be detectable for a longer period, possibly up to a week or more.
Blood tests are only used in medical settings. They have a short detection period and are used to detect drugs currently in the body.
Meth is detectable in the blood for a shorter duration compared to urine, usually around 1-3 days after use. This window can also be influenced by factors such as frequency of use, metabolism, and the amount ingested.
Meth can be detected in saliva within a shorter time frame compared to blood and urine, usually up to 1-4 days after last use. This method is less commonly used but can indicate recent meth use.
Meth can be detected in hair follicles for a much longer period than other methods. It can remain detectable in hair for up to 90 days or even longer after last use, depending on the length of the hair sample taken and the individual’s rate of hair growth.
How to Detox From Meth
Stopping the use of meth can be challenging, especially if you are physically dependent on it. Although meth withdrawal is generally not life-threatening, it can be uncomfortable and may end in relapse if you don’t seek medical support.
Symptoms of meth withdrawal include:
- Increased appetite
- Vivid dreams or nightmares
- Agitation or irritability
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Suicidal thoughts
- Psychomotor agitation or retardation
- Disturbed sleep patterns
- Intense drug cravings
The best way to detox from meth is to get help from a drug and alcohol detox center. Detox centers can monitor your symptoms, prescribe medications, and facilitate therapies that ease your symptoms and ensure your safety.
Get Help for Meth Addiction
If you or a loved one are struggling with meth addiction, it’s important to know that effective treatment is available. ARISE Treatment Center’s individually tailored approach can help you detox safely, address the causes of your addiction, and get your life back on track. With a multidisciplinary team of behavioral health specialists and evidence-based treatment services, you’ll gain the tools and support you need to stay sober.
To verify your insurance or learn more about our meth addiction treatment programs, please contact us today.
1. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): What is the scope of methamphetamine use in the United States? Retrieved November 2023 from https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-scope-methamphetamine-misuse-in-united-states
- Wiley Library: A review of the clinical pharmacology of methamphetamine, Retrieved November 2023 from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02564.x
- National Library of Medicine: A Method to Quantify Illicit Intake of Drugs from Urine: Methamphetamine, Retrieved November 2023 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3126645/