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How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?

Posted on June 23, 2023

How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?

Reports have shown that in 2018, an estimated 1.9 million people aged twelve or above used methamphetamine in the past year.

While methamphetamine abuse in the UK is decreasing, those who still abuse the drug risk detrimental short-term and long-term effects.

What is Methamphetamine?

Meth crystals

Methamphetamine, also known as meth, crystal meth, ice, tina or glass is an incredibly addictive synthetic stimulant. Meth’s main ingredients are ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, which are common over-the-counter cold remedies.

These ingredients are usually added to other more toxic chemicals and mixed with gasoline until it crystallises.

This heating process is particularly dangerous, with high risks of fire and explosions.

Those who create crystal meth are known as ‘cooks’ however the process is incredibly dangerous. Many who cook meth risk severe respiratory issues and chemical burns to the skin and eyes.

It has been reported that the inhalation of the chemicals may also increase the likelihood of psychosis.

Learn more about meth and how it can impact you by calling us today on 0800 088 66 86

What Can Meth Be Laced With?

Hospital bed recovery

Meth is often combined with other substances to increase the intensity of the drug.

However, these chemicals can be improperly separated, leading to dangerous side effects.

Substances cut with meth include:

  • Red Dye – This is where the red dye hasn’t been washed off the cough medicine tablet, leaving the meth with a red or brown colour.
  • Amphetamines – A stimulant to disguise the impurities of the meth and increases strength
  • Sulphur – Another byproduct of the ephedrine in the cough medicine
  • Phosphorus – An extremely toxic chemical used in the cooking process, however, if it isn’t washed out it can be dangerous
  • Fentanyl – A synthetic opioid that is fatal in small doses.

Meth is extremely addictive. Many users use it in a binge, crash cycle, chasing the initial high, however, it is the chemicals used during the cooking processes that can have disastrous effects on the body.

What Does Meth Do to the Body?

Man exhausted

Methamphetamine is a synthetic central nervous system stimulant. It usually comes in the form of small crystals which can be snorted, smoked or injected.

Like other stimulants, meth consumption results in a massive release of neurotransmitters like dopamine. However, meth is often mixed with toxic chemicals like antifreeze, gasoline, or drain cleaner which can have catastrophic effects on the body.

Meth is a derivation of amphetamines which are legally prescribed for obesity, narcolepsy and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

There are short-term and long-term effects of abusing meth, which can lead to changes not just physically bu also psychologically, including personality changes.

The short-term side effects of meth use include:

  • Heartbeat abnormalities that can lead to a heart attack
  • Aggression
  • Inability to sleep
  • Hypertension
  • Hyperactivity
  • Loss of Appetite

Those who regularly use meth struggle with oral hygiene, with major damage happening to their teeth. Rapid weight loss is also a significant side effect. While short-term effects may be temporary, chronic meth abuse can lead to irreversible long-term damage.

The long-term side effects of meth use include:

  • Poor oral health (meth mouth)
  • Prolonged appetite suppression leading to major weight loss
  • Hyperthermia (high body heat)
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Increased risk of inflammation and infection
  • Amphetamine psychosis
  • Hair loss
  • Formication, or the feeling of bugs running under the skin, can lead to skin lacerations from constant scratching

Meth can be devastating not just to the body, but also to the brain. The effects of this can be widespread, attacking all areas of your brain.

Chronic meth abuse can increase your chance of stroke, where blood is cut off from the brain, which can result in permanent brain damage.

When you consistently abuse methamphetamine, you release dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure, satisfaction and motivation.

However, when these transmitters are released too often, you risk their depletion, leading to mental health issues like depression.

This may mean you have to take more to achieve the same effects or you may not feel any pleasure unless you take meth.

This heightens your chances of overdosing, which can be fatal.

Chronic, long-term methamphetamine abuse can cause the brain to develop psychosis, including hallucinations similar to those who suffer from schizophrenia.

These symptoms may deplete after getting clean, however, some report still experiencing symptoms of psychosis long after they have achieved sobriety.

Get the help you need to overcome meth addiction by calling us today on 0800 088 66 86

What does a Meth high feel like?

Two women talking one-to-one at a table

The stages of meth abuse can be described in seven steps, from the moment you take the drug, to your crashing back down to earth.

1. The Rush

Many meth users describe feeling a rush upon smoking or injecting methamphetamine. At this moment, your heart will begin to race, with neurotransmitters firing. Unlike a rush from other stimulants like crack, which last only a few minutes, the rush from crystal meth can last up to half an hour.

2. The High

After the rush, users will feel high or euphoric. In this period, the user can feel invincible, putting themselves or others in danger. They can become aggressive, delusional and argumentative. The high can last from four to sixteen hours depending on the purity of the meth they consumed.

3. The Binge

At this point, many chronic users will attempt to stay on the high by injecting or snorting more methamphetamine. Each time they use they will experience a shorter, smaller rush, however, this increases their risk of overdosing or causing irreversible damage to their internal organs.

4. Tweaking

The tweaking stage can be referred to as the most dangerous stage of meth abuse, where continued use of the drug can no longer achieve the original high. Unable to relieve the crashing, depressing sensations they begin to feel, they may begin to lose a sense of identity. At this point, they may begin to feel like bugs are crawling under their skin and experience hallucinations. This can develop into full-on psychosis where they become disconnected from reality.

5. The Crash

Many report this stage as where the body shuts down. Crystal meth abuse can lead to long periods without restful sleep, meaning when they crash they sleep, sometimes for days. Their body may have been overwhelmed with the number of drugs in their system and attempt to process the substance.

6. The Hangover

After the crash, the user will return to a depleted body. Dehydrated, starved and exhausted, they will begin to seek out methamphetamine again to relinquish these uncomfortable feelings.

7. The Withdrawal

Unlike other substances, it can be months before the user can begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. They will become depressed, losing their ability to experience pleasure from natural life and they will experience intense cravings. Unfortunately, due to these withdrawals, without treatment, 93% of users will return to active addiction.

Methamphetamine Withdrawals

A doctor typing with a stethoscope beside the laptop

Methamphetamine withdrawals are notoriously uncomfortable, especially if the user is a long-time abuser of the substance.

The cravings alongside the body’s reaction to withdrawals cause many to return to using the drug, unable to assimilate to natural life.

The longer the abuser has been using meth, the longer it can take for the substance to leave the body entirely.

Methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Paranoia
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Inability to feel pleasure (anhedonia)
  • Delusions and psychosis
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Increased appetite
  • Anger and aggression
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Muscle Weakness

It should be noted that while these are not life-threatening symptoms like you may have with alcohol, opioid or benzodiazepine abuse, the psychological effects during a methamphetamine withdrawal can cause them to harm themselves or others.

It is recommended that you undergo a medical detox in an established rehab facility rather than attempt a home detox.

Don’t take the risk of an unsupported meth withdrawal, call us instead on 0800 088 66 86

How long does Meth stay in your system?

A clock with roman numerals on a panelled wall

  • Urine Test: Up to 72 hours
  • Blood Test: Up to 48 hours
  • Hair Test: Up to 90 days
  • Saliva Test: Up to 4 days

There are many factors as to how long meth can stay in your system.

Many users use crystal meth alongside other drugs (poly-drug use) like alcohol.

However, this may inhibit how long the body takes to metabolise methamphetamine.

On average, the half-life of methamphetamine is around 10 to 24 hours. This is how long it takes for your body to metabolise methamphetamine by 50%.

However, traces of meth can be in your system for months after you have stopped taking the substance.

Mothers who are meth abusers are discouraged from breastfeeding their infants, as it can stay in the breastmilk for up to 72 hours following consumption, this can then be transferred into the baby, leading them to dependence on the substance.

Meth withdrawal management programs will help facilitate a detox.

Detox facilities may administer naltrexone, usually administered for opioid addictions.

However, this has proven mixed results as scientists are still trying to uncover the best way to facilitate methamphetamine withdrawal.

If you or a loved one is suffering from methamphetamine addiction, it is recommended to visit a reputable addiction treatment facility. Withdrawal symptoms can be incredibly challenging to handle alone, so it is recommended you undergo a detox facilitated by medical professionals.

Don’t let addiction control your life – start your journey towards sobriety by calling us today on 0800 088 66 86

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