Approximately half a million Americans use meth each week. If you’re addicted to the drug, you’re not alone. At least 5% of the American population has used meth at least once. While nationwide meth use trends are slowly declining, the drug still remains popular in some parts of the United States. Reports indicate that meth use is particularly popular on the west coast and in the midwest.
Although most people know the consequences of meth use and addiction, not everyone knows the full extent of the effects that meth can have on the body. For instance, how long does meth stay in your system?
This article will outline the timeline of meth as well as different types of drug tests that can positively identify meth in the body.
How Long Does It Take for the Body to Process Meth?
The amount of time it takes for your body to process meth depends on the meth itself. For example, if you take meth in the form of a pill, the drug will reach its peak in your bloodstream anywhere from 2.5 to 3.5 hours after taking it. Twelve hours later, amphetamine metabolite will also peak.
If you inject meth intravenously, or by using a syringe, the half-life is around 12 hours. This means that, after 12 hours, half of the substance will have left your system. The longevity of intravenous meth use can prolong the feeling of euphoria, which is why injection is the most popular route of administration among users— despite the health risks.
Since meth is water-soluble, it leaves your body through your urine once it has been processed. Still, there are tests that can detect meth even after it has passed through your system.
Hair Follicle Tests
A hair follicle test is the most accurate and extensive drug test. These tests can determine if a user has ingested any amount of meth at any point in the last 90 days. This is because, once meth has entered your bloodstream, traces of it can become part of your hair as it grows.
In other words, you can’t get a “clean” hair follicle test by dying your hair, cutting it, or washing it.
Since this type of drug testing is the most accurate, some states require people to take court-ordered hair follicle tests in order for them to maintain specific rights. For example, parents with joint custody or limited visitation of their children may only be able to visit if they provide a clean hair follicle sample.
Blood tests are perhaps the most invasive way to detect drug use. As the name suggests, these types of tests look for traces of drugs in your bloodstream.
For the most part, blood testing can positively identify meth use that occurred within the past four days or so. So, they are more accurate than urine and saliva tests but less accurate than hair follicle tests.
Urine tests are probably the most common way to test for drug use. These kinds of tests are both reliable and inexpensive, which is why many businesses and correctional facilities rely on them.
However, unlike hair follicle and blood tests, there is a much smaller window of detection for urine tests. Most urine tests can usually only detect meth use within the last two or so days.
Still, the results of a urine test mostly depend on how much meth a user consumed in the days prior to the test. In other words, if your meth use is both heavy and chronic, then a urine test will most likely be able to detect it even if weeks have passed since your last dose.
A saliva test is relatively straightforward. All it requires is a small sample of saliva, usually taken from a cheek swab. The test then looks for any traces of drugs in your saliva.
Saliva tests typically turn out positive if the user ingested meth within the last one to four days. So, these tests are about as accurate as urine tests.
If you or a loved one has gone through meth withdrawal, then you know that the symptoms can last several weeks. For some individuals, meth withdrawal can persist months after their last dose.
However, it’s important to know that the duration of withdrawal symptoms is not an indication that meth is still in your system. Remember, meth does not stay in the body for more than a couple days, at most.
What Withdrawal Symptoms Mean
Many people withdrawing or detoxing from meth may experience symptoms like anxiety for five weeks or longer. Plus, users who already struggle with mental health issues like chronic depression or anxiety may experience additional psychological issues after quitting the drug. They may also experience cravings for several weeks after the last dose.
However, this does not necessarily mean that meth is present in the user’s body. Meth increases the levels of dopamine in the brain, which induces feelings of euphoria. This is what drives cravings after quitting.
So, if anything, withdrawal symptoms are a sign that the body is working to recover from issues that were brought about by meth use. They are not a sign that meth is still in your system.
How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System? It Depends
The amount of time that meth stays in your system will vary depending on you, your body, how much of the drug you use, how you take it, and how often you use it. In any case, different types of drug testing can confirm past drug use even months after the last dose.
If you or a loved one is struggling with meth addiction or going through intense withdrawal symptoms, please contact us. We can help you find the best addiction treatment for you.
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Hartney, E. (2019, June 28). 5 Meth Withdrawal Symptoms Users Experience. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-to-expect-from-meth-withdrawal-22358
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). What is the scope of methamphetamine misuse in the United States? Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-scope-methamphetamine-abuse-in-united-states
Roehr, B. (2005, September 03). Half a million Americans use methamphetamine every week. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1199019/
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