How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?
Methamphetamine is used by over a million Americans every year according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. It is a highly addictive stimulant that has grown in popularity in recent decades, and can cause lasting side-effects. Like many other stimulants, meth leaves the body fairly quickly, but can leave individuals feeling intense discomfort during withdrawal.
The Half-Life of Methamphetamine
The half life of a drug is a measure of how long it takes for half of the drug to metabolize through the body. When somebody uses meth, symptoms generally peak within the first few hours and subside in 12-24 hours. This is a relatively long period to experience symptoms when compared with other drugs and stimulants.
Methamphetamine’s half-life is slightly over twelve hours. This means that twelve hours after consumption, half of the drug has left the body. After a full day, ¾ of the drug has left the system. For this reason, many people use meth in that period of 12-24 hours after their last dose. If the individual does not use again, they will begin to experience symptoms of withdrawal.
Factors Affecting Length of Time
There are many factors that may affect the amount of time it takes crystal meth to leave the system. Every person and situation is unique, and we should recognize that there may be variations from person to person. Factors that may influence how long it takes meth to leave the system include:
- How often the person is using meth
- How much was used at last dose
- The individual’s body chemistry and health
- What method of drug testing is being used
Drug Tests and Methamphetamine
Like many other stimulants, methamphetamine may be detectable in drug tests for a few days after last use. If the method of testing is urinalysis or saliva, it’s likely that meth will show up for 3-5 days. It will likely show up in drug tests within just a few minutes after use, as the body begins to metabolize it fairly quickly.
Other methods of testing may find meth for longer periods.Many urinalysis and saliva drug tests are also sent to laboratories, where smaller amounts may be detectable. This is because labs can detect trace amounts of drugs that are often missed by the tests that give instant results at home. Hair analysis can detect meth in the system for a few months after use.
A day or so after the last dose, an individual will begin the withdrawal process. Although the withdrawal process cannot directly cause death like alcohol or benzodiazepine detox can, an individual may experience a variety of unpleasant symptoms. Symptoms of withdrawal from methamphetamine include:
- Increase in appetite
- Anxiety and restlessness
- Panic attacks
- Agitation and anger
- Excessive sleeping
- Vivid dreams
The symptoms of withdrawal vary depending on factors such as length of use, dose of last use, the individual’s body chemistry, and the presence of any mental health disorders. If the individual is a polydrug user, they may experience longer or more severe withdrawal symptoms as well.
Effects of Methamphetamine Abuse
Methamphetamine is a dangerous drug to abuse, and there are many short term and long term effects. Depending on the individual and patterns of abuse, the symptoms may last for quite some time after quitting.
Symptoms commonly experienced in the short-term from meth use are:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Decrease in appetite
- Increased respiratory rate
- Decaying teeth (meth mouth)
- Anger and agitation
When used for longer periods, methamphetamine may cause long-lasting effects. Many individuals continue to experience side effects from meth abuse for years after getting clean. These side effects may include:
- Dependence and addiction
- Meth-induced psychosis
- Cognitive deficits
- Decreased motor function
- Loss of memory
- Severe mood disturbances
- Weight loss
- Ease of distraction
Finding Help for Meth Addiction
Because of the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms, meth users have one of the highest rates of relapse. Many people try to get clean on their own, and it can be extremely beneficial to seek help when coming off drugs. With proper clinical care, your symptoms can be managed so the withdrawal process is less unpleasant.
Changing Tides offers a professional, medically-assisted detox program for those coming off drugs and alcohol. At our detoxification facility, you will work with clinicians and doctors to ensure your safety during the withdrawal process. It is our goal to offer each person in our care the best opportunity at a life of recovery, and we work hard to ensure you receive proper attention and support through this process.