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Methamphetamine or meth is a man-made, highly synthetic stimulant of the central nervous system. The drug is notoriously addictive with an extremely high abuse liability that has forced the DEA to classify it as a Schedule II substance. Up to 1.9 million people in the U.S. had been using meth in 2019, and the statistics have only gone up since then. For such people, it is a common question to wonder how long this drug stays in the system in detectable amounts. Before understanding how long different parts of the body retain this drug, it is crucial to understand how the body processes it.
How Does the Body Process Meth?
Regardless of the way an individual consumes meth, such as by injection, snorting, or swallowing, it ends up in the bloodstream sooner or later. The blood carries the drug to all parts of the body but primarily deposits it in the lungs, kidneys, liver, and brain. Meth residues that enter the brain promote the levels of dopamine, creating an urge to keep using it. At the same time, it targets and kills brain cells, leading to long-term damage to attention, executive functioning, and memory.
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All remaining meth residues that do not enter the brain eventually leave the body through urine. Alternatively, they may break down by the liver into the following two components:
Amphetamine: This is another type of stimulant with a high abuse liability that significantly raises the dopamine levels in the brain
Para-hydroxymethamphetamine (p-OHMA): This meth metabolite increases your blood pressure by boosting adrenaline levels. However, it has minimal effect on the brain
Both metabolites mentioned above eventually leave the body through urine.
How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?
The amount of time meth stays in the system depends on the type of test being used to detect it. It is possible to detect meth from urine for a much longer time than from blood.
How Long Does Meth Stay in Your Blood?
Methamphetamine has a half-life of twelve hours which means that after this time window, your body eliminates half of the drug it consumed. Keeping this in mind, it is safe to assume that it takes around seventy-two hours for the body to clear meth from its bloodstream.
How Long Does Meth Stay in Your Hair Follicles?
Unlike blood, hair follicles can hold methamphetamine residues for a much longer time. Some people may test positive for meth use through a hair follicle test for up to ninety days following the last dose.
How Long Does Meth Stay in Your Sweat and Saliva?
Both sweat and saliva tests can detect any recent meth use. For most individuals, the drug persists in these two mediums for up to two days.
How Long Does Meth Stay in Urine?
For heavy or chronic users, methamphetamine may stay in the urine for up to seven days following the last dose. On the contrary, an occasional user may test positive for this drug for three to five days after the last dose. Because the body metabolizes meth to amphetamines, a meth user may test positive for both amphetamine and methamphetamine.
A urine test is more likely to detect a higher concentration of meth than other types of tests as its metabolites primarily leave the body through urine. The drug first reaches the liver to undergo breakdown following which the kidneys excrete its byproducts. The time the drug becomes detectable in urine varies according to different factors such as:
- Overall health status of the user
- Metabolic rate
- Size of dose
- Frequency of use
- Urine pH
- Body mass
- Drug tolerance
- Level of physical activity
How Long Does Meth Stay in the Body: Factors Determining Meth Detection Times
The amount of time it takes for meth to leave the body depends on multiple factors. These factors generally vary from one person to another and may include the following:
The general health of a person using meth plays an important role in determining how long their body retains this drug. Those who have good health are generally able to eliminate it much quicker. In contrast, people with physical health complications, particularly liver and kidney issues, may take a longer time to process and eliminate them.
Method of Consumption
The method of consumption decides how quickly meth peaks in the body and produces the effects which influence its elimination window. There are several ways to consume methamphetamine such as smoking, snorting, injecting, or swallowing it. When you swallow meth, it reaches its peak concentration in the blood within 2 to 4 hours. On the other hand, snorting, injecting, or smoking does the job within minutes as these methods directly deliver the drug to the brain.
It is common for many people to combine meth with other drugs. Known as polysubstance use, doing so can alter the effects of methamphetamine and change how early it leaves the body. For example, those who use meth with alcohol may take longer to eliminate this drug as alcohol slows down metabolic activities. Other drugs, like poppers, ketamine, opiates, and stimulants, may also affect the meth detection times in unpredictable ways.
Another key component that determines meth detection time is the dosage someone takes. Those who take this drug in higher doses will have it in their system for a longer time than those who only consume it in smaller doses.
Another key component to answering this question is the dosage one takes of methamphetamine. Higher doses will remain in the blood, and saliva for much longer periods than if you were to take a smaller amount of meth in any form.
How long meth stay in your system also depends on the purity of the drug you are taking. If it is higher in purity, it means that the drug has a larger dose of methamphetamine by weight which will only prolong the detection period. On the contrary, low-purity batches do not have many methamphetamines and the body can process them much more quickly.
Different people process meth and other drugs at different rates. Hence, answering the question of how long this drug stays in the system may not be straightforward. The individual metabolic rate of every person may vary based on genetic factors and is not easy to assess.
Common Side Effects of Using Meth
Many people rely on methamphetamine to increase their confidence, reduce inhibitions, keep mental issues under control or stay productive or alert for longer durations. Sometimes, the drug is also used for inducing weight loss. Regardless of the reason why someone uses meth, its consumption can lead to several short- and long-term side effects explained below.
Short-Term Side Effects
Short-term side effects of using meth include the following:
- Loss of Appetite
- Irregular heartbeat
- Increased heart rate
- Elevated body temperature
- Sensations of itching or muscle spasms
- high blood pressure
- Increased activity
- Erratic behavior, sometimes leading to violent behavior
- Dry Mouth
- Increased Libido
- Trouble Sleeping
Long-Term Side Effects
Long-term side effects of using meth include the following:
- Damage to the liver and kidneys
- Malnutrition leading to severe weight loss
- Tooth decay
- Brain damage causing in short-term memory issues
- Sores or abscesses on the skin
- Inability to concentrate
How to Pass Urine Test for Meth: Tips to Make Meth Leave the Body Faster
Many people who are looking forward to passing a drug test for meth may ask if there is anything they can do to expel this drug from their system in a faster way. The short answer to this question is no. No tip guarantees the early expulsion of all meth residues from the system. However, you may consider the following solutions:
Maintain Good Hydration
Some people argue that drinking a lot of water at once can get meth out of the system much quicker than usual. The proponents believe that as a person drinks more water, it prompts the body to produce more urine which ultimately expels meth and its byproducts. Additionally, the tip also dilutes the urine ten-fold within half an hour, ultimately lowering the amount of meth in it which may bring the test result to a negative. While this is true in some cases, remember that doing so will let the expert performing the test know that your urine has been diluted through the altered creatine levels.
Before you try this remedy to pass a urine test, keep in mind that overconsumption of water in a short period may lead to water intoxication. Drinking 3 liters of water within a couple of hours can even land you in the emergency room with the following symptoms:
- Muscle weakness or cramps
- Drowsiness and lethargy
- Nausea or vomiting
Also known as water pills, diuretics help dilute the urine by flushing out more water. At the same time, these pills may also increase the sodium content in the urine, giving the tester a signal that you attempted to dilute your urine sample.
Shave Your Head
Shaving the head is the easiest way to deter a follicle test for meth detection. However, before you take this step, keep in mind that a hair follicle test doesn’t necessarily need a hair strand off your head but may also test body hair from the chin, eyebrows, legs, pubic areas, and chest.
Bleach Your Hair
The process of bleaching breaks down the chemicals in the hair, removing meth from the system. However, keep in mind that an expert may still retrieve some residues from the hair to confirm a positive test.
Learning to expel meth from the system is simple but may not be as easy as it sounds. The best way to make sure you pass a drug test for meth is by practicing abstinence from its use. However, keep in mind that if you are already dependent on meth, turning sober may not be easy and lead to withdrawal symptoms which can be extremely uncomfortable. To avoid or manage these symptoms while detoxing safely from meth, consider joining an addiction treatment rehab. These treatment centers not only help clear meth from your system but also equip you with the tools and skills to lead an addiction-free life.
What is the best way to get meth out of your system?
Getting meth out of the system can be a dangerous process that almost always involves a withdrawal phase. To get past it safely and securely, it is important to join a meth withdrawal management program that allows individuals to give up on its use in a supervised and highly supportive environment. As a part of these programs, qualified medical professionals support patients as they allow meth to leave their system through therapy and medications
How long does it take meth to leave your system?
As per the experts, methamphetamine may produce its effects on the body for 8 to 24 hours before leaving the system. The timeline is likely to vary, depending on how you ingest meth, the amount you take, and how your liver and kidneys are functioning.
1 Volkow, N. D., Fowler, J. S., Wang, G. J., Shumay, E., Telang, F., Thanos, P. K., & Alexoff, D. (2010). Distribution and pharmacokinetics of methamphetamine in the human body: clinical implications. PloS one, 5(12), e15269.
2 NIDA. 2022, January 12. What are the long-term effects of methamphetamine misuse?