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How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

February 15, 2024

Table of Contents

Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, is an extremely addictive synthetic stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It goes by various street names such as crystal meth, ice, crystal, and crank.

According to recent data from the NSDUH 2021 survey, about 2.5 million U.S. adults reported using meth in the past year, with 1.6 million developing a diagnosable addiction, known as stimulant use disorder.

Meth is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance due to its high potential for abuse and addiction, despite some medical uses. Its recreational use is illegal and poses serious risks to health, including potentially life-threatening effects.

The duration of meth’s effects can last from 8 to 24 hours, depending on factors such as dosage, how it’s taken, and individual metabolism. Unlike cocaine, which is rapidly metabolized, meth can remain in the body almost unchanged for a longer period.

Using methamphetamine can lead to serious health complications, both in the short and long term. Prolonged use can result in tolerance and physical dependence, often leading to stimulant use disorder, commonly known as meth addiction.

While meth addiction is considered incurable, evidence-based treatments offered at meth rehab facilities have shown to be effective in managing the disorder and helping individuals achieve positive outcomes.

Meth Half-Life

Meth stays in the system for much longer than cocaine. The elimination half-life of meth is 9 hours to 24 hours. At this point, blood levels of meth will be reduced by half. It takes between four and five elimination half-lives for all of a substance to be removed from the system.

How Long Does Crystal Meth Stay in Your System?

Black market meth comes in the form of an odorless white powder. The variant known as crystal meth comes in the form of blue-white rocks resembling tiny shards of glass. The half-life of smoked crystal meth is about 11 hours, meaning it will take about 55 hours for the substance to be removed from the system.

How Long Do You Feel the Effects of Meth

Meth and crystal meth both trigger an energetic and euphoric feeling similar to the cocaine high, although the effects of meth are much longer-lasting. Snorting cocaine induces a high that lasts from 15 to 30 minutes. The 5-minute high induced by smoking crack cocaine is even more fleeting. The effects of meth, by contrast, persist for 8 to 24 hours.

The first stage of meth intoxication involves a rush of intense euphoria that sets in within seconds of use. This rush occurs due to the flooding of the brain with dopamine, a neurotransmitter or chemical messenger associated with positive mood. This initial phase of euphoria lasts from 5 to 30 minutes.

Over the following 4 to 24 hours, the intense state of euphoria shifts into a more subdued sense of euphoria characterized by rapidly cycling thoughts and hyperactivity.

How long does crystal meth stay in your system for, then?

How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System For?

People who abuse meth ingest the substance in one of the following ways:

●  Smoking the substance in a glass pipe.

●  Dissolving the substance and injecting the solution intravenously.

Both methods of administration cause meth to reach your brain quickly. Injecting the drug delivers even quicker effects than smoking it.

If you ingest meth by snorting it through the nose, this triggers a longer-lasting euphoric high at the same time as increasing physical activity. Effects can last for half a day or more when the drug is snorted.

How Long Does Meth Stay in Your Urine?

Research shows that meth is detectable in urine tests for up to 72 hours after the last use.

When you ingest methamphetamine, the substance metabolizes to amphetamine. Resultantly, a drug screen that detects meth will also detect amphetamine.

The average detection interval in urine for stimulants like meth is three to five days after the last use, longer in those who have chronically abused meth.

How Long Does Meth Stay in Your Blood?

Blood testing and the testing of oral fluids can be more beneficial and accurate than urine testing if the aim is to detect the recent use of a drug like meth. Metabolites may be detectable for days after use. Unfortunately, these methods have lower detection intervals than urine tests, so they are not as widely used. 

How Long Does Meth Stay in Your Hair?

Drug use, including meth use, will be able to be detected through a hair test long after you’ve last used. For example, meth can be detected from a hair test for up to 90 days after last use.

Meth Withdrawal Timeline

Meth withdrawal can be dangerous due to the way this stimulant impacts the brain. A supervised meth detox at a licensed medical detox center provides the safest and most supportive environment to initiate your recovery from stimulant use disorder.

While there are no medications approved for the FDA to treat meth withdrawal, the treatment team can help to manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms to some extent. The primary benefit of a medical meth detox is the clinical and emotional care available around the clock, minimizing the likelihood of complications and relapse.

Detox addresses the physical issue of meth dependence. Once all meth has left your system and all toxins have been purged – this typically take a week – you can transition directly into an inpatient or outpatient treatment program. We can help you with all this and more here at Renaissance Recovery Center in Orange County.

Meth withdrawal begins during the 24 hours after the last use of this potent stimulant. Most symptoms will peak on days 7 to 10 of meth detox, dissipating after 20 days in most cases.

The severity and presentation of meth withdrawal symptoms will differ according to the duration and scale of meth abuse, as well as any other addictive substances being used.

On the first couple of days of meth detox, you will undergo a pronounced crash, feeling fatigued and lethargic as your body and mind struggle to get accustomed to the absence of methamphetamine. Symptoms may include:

  • Hunger
  • Uneasiness
  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Suicidal ideation

In the case of PAWS (post-acute withdrawal syndrome), withdrawal symptoms may persist for months after the last use. The most reported symptoms are:

  • Ongoing and excessive hunger
  • Low heart rate
  • Insomnia and disrupted sleep patterns

Meth Rehab at Renaissance Recovery Center

Even though there are no approved pharmacological interventions for meth addiction, stimulant use disorders respond favorably to treatment with behavioral therapies and motivational therapies. Access these here at Renaissance.

If you require a supervised meth detox, we can connect you with licensed medical detox centers throughout Southern California. After a week or so, you will be ready to unpack the psychological aspect of meth addiction in ongoing treatment. Choose from the following treatment programs:

  • PHP (partial hospitalization program)
  • IOP (intensive outpatient program)
  • Dual diagnosis treatment program
  • Remote rehab program

Treatment at all levels of intensity at Renaissance involves a personalized combination of evidence-based and holistic treatment that include:

  • Individual counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Psychotherapy (CBT or DBT)
  • Family therapy
  • Experiential adventure therapy

Whether you step down to a less intensive form of treatment or segue directly into sober living, you will leave Renaissance equipped with an aftercare plan, relapse prevention strategies, and access to our alumni program. For help with meth addiction from detox to discharge and beyond, call 866.330.9449 for immediate assistance.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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