How Does Meth Detection in the System Work?
Methamphetamine, also known as meth, is a highly addictive psychostimulant drug. It’s derived from amphetamine and produces stimulant effects, such as euphoria, similar to cocaine and other stimulants. It’s estimated that about 33 million people abuse meth worldwide, with more than 150,000 emergency department visits in 2011 in the U.S. alone.1
There are several factors that determine how long meth stays in the system, including the manner of consumption. If meth is swallowed, it will usually reach peak concentration within 2-4 hours, and it can last for up to 4 days. Injecting, smoking, snorting, or even inserting meth rectally has faster effects, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll be out of the system faster.2
Meth tolerance also depends on some individual traits a person has, such as:2
- Age: Adults have a higher meth tolerance compared to teens or seniors.
- Height and weight: The heavier a person is, their meth tolerance is higher.
- Genetics: Some people are born with a higher tolerance than others.
- Hydration: if you consume plenty of water, you may get meth out of your system faster.
How Is Meth Metabolized?
Meth is different from most other stimulants by the basic mechanisms upon which it works. Most notably, meth metabolites stay in the body for much longer compared to other stimulant drugs, including cocaine.1 This is because the liver, the organ that is in charge of metabolizing drugs, cannot fully metabolize the artificial chemicals that meth is made out of.3
For example, cocaine is almost completely metabolized rather quickly, while a big percentage of meth will stay unchanged in the body. In fact, when it comes to meth, the metabolism can remove about 50% of the drug from the body in around 12 hours. This is much longer than cocaine, as the body can remove the same amount of drug in one hour only.3
How Long Does Meth Stay in the Different Body Parts?
The meth duration in a person’s body highly depends on the amount and frequency of use. The longer a person intakes this drug, the longer it will stay in the system. There might even be some differences in people using artificial crystal meth instead of so-called ‘pure’ methamphetamine.4
Meth high length can be anywhere between 4 and 16 hours, but it can stay in various body parts for much longer. Some drug tests for meth can detect this substance even weeks after using it.4,5
Overall, the meth detection time for different body parts includes the following:4
- Hair: Detecting meth in hair is a common testing method for long-term use. Meth can remain in hair for 4 to 6 months.
- Sweat: Meth can be found in sweat for 1 to 4 weeks.
- Blood: Meth blood tests have shown that the drug can be detected between 12 and 24 hours after use.
- Saliva: Just like with blood, you can find meth in saliva for up to 24 hours since the last intake.
- Urine: Meth tests have concluded that meth urine detection time is 2 to 4 days.
What Is the Half-Life of Meth?
Meth half-life is between 6 and 15 hours, but most experts would agree that this averages to 10 hours. This means that it takes approximately 10 hours for half of the drug to leave your body. However, you can have meth in the system for much longer depending on the amount you’ve taken and how long you’ve been taking it.1,2
Can I Sweat out Meth?
Technically, a person can sweat out meth, but it will take a long time. Most meth drug tests can detect meth for 1 to 2 weeks after the last intake. However, if the doses were really high and if the person has been using for a prolonged period of time, meth detection in the body is possible for up to 4 weeks after the intake.6
Sweat’s main purpose is to regulate body temperature. However, sweat can also serve as drug detox, as it eliminates chemicals from our bodies. As such, sweat can help get meth out of your system. Still, this process won’t be fast.6
What Drug Tests Are Used for Meth Detection?
There are various drug tests that help with meth detection in the system. Some of the most common ones are:4
- Tests for meth in urine: This is one of the oldest meth and drug test methods, no matter the population. However, it detects only recent use and some meth tests can show false-positive results, which is why this method requires costly confirmations.
- Meth hair tests: This is a fairly new and costly technique, but it can confirm drug use in the previous several months, sometimes even up to a year.
- Meth blood testing: While this is an invasive method, it’s one of the most precise tests. It’s usually used for medical emergencies. However, it can only detect current or recent intoxication.
- Meth saliva tests: These are probably the easiest method for meth testing when it comes to obtaining samples. Unfortunately, the oral cavity can get contaminated easily, which will tamper with the results.
Is There a Way to Get Meth out of the Body?
Some individuals wonder if they’re able to undergo an at-home meth detox for drug tests and get the drug out of their bodies fast. It’s important to note that there is no guarantee that any detox method will get meth out of the system in 48 hours or at any precise time. It’s also crucial to note that detoxing from meth, or any other substance, should be done in a specialized facility with careful monitoring and comfortable setting.7
While you might hear about some at-home detox methods, they simply may help restore balance in the body for people with mild meth use disorder. However, they are not a guarantee that a person will get rid of meth or stay sober. The only way to get long-lasting help is to call a local methamphetamine hotline and find a rehab facility that can provide you with medical detox and long-lasting treatment.7
What About Stopping Meth Use Cold Turkey?
Quitting meth cold turkey is not recommended. Meth addiction is a serious issue and withdrawal is very common if the body stops getting this drug suddenly. Meth withdrawal can be so severe that it can endanger a person’s life or even cause severe health problems such as arrhythmias, cardiogenic shock, intracranial hemorrhage, and even death. This is why medical detox is the only safe way to quit meth and get sober.1
What’s the Best Way to Deal With Meth Addiction?
People looking to get help for their substance use disorder (SUD) and looking for meth addiction programs can always contact American Addiction Centers (AAC) to get treatment at some of the finest rehab facilities.
Many of AAC facilities have same-day admittance for people with severe meth addiction, and offer various meth drug tests and treatments for individuals in need of help. At AAC rehab centers, the first step in the intake process is assessment and talking to a professional who can help suggest the best treatment for you depending on the details of your substance abuse.
AAC has multiple hotlines available, allowing individuals to call and ask any addiction and treatment-related questions. When you call a hotline, you can inform yourself about the costs associated with rehab. You can also discuss possible treatment options, including:
- A short-term detox and treatment program.
- Available intensive 30-day inpatient treatment.
- Luxury rehab for patients looking for more comfort and privacy.
- Couples’ treatment options who want to go through rehab together.
Additionally, as aftercare is very important, AAC usually recommends following up with some of the support groups, such as Crystal Meth Anonymous, and connecting with people who can help you stay sober.
While on the phone, you can learn more about how much your treatment would cost and whether your insurance covers the cost of addiction rehabilitation. The AAC team can help you explore your payment options. You may also discuss finding some other financing solution if you want to go to a private-pay substance abuse rehab. Finally, AAC can help verify your insurance coverage immediately while you’re on the phone.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Does Meth Screening Entail?
Meth screenings can be necessary in certain situations, as methamphetamine is an illegal, Schedule II narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act. Meth screenings might also be required before you start outpatient or inpatient treatment for addiction to a substance. These tests are not painful and a professional will take a sample.8
Depending on the method, they might take a mouth swab or a urine sample. Blood tests are rarely conducted unless there’s a medical emergency, and hair and sweat tests are almost never used for screening purposes.8
Does Meth High Last Long?
Methamphetamine increases the amount of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a substance that is activated after rewarding behaviors. The high comes after the initial response that the individual feels half an hour after intake, and it can last anywhere between 4 and 16 hours.5,9
How Can You Get Meth Out of Your System Fast?
While there are some at-home methods, none are as effective as medical detoxification. Only a reputable rehab facility can provide safe and medically managed detox from meth. Upon intake, a professional will help you determine whether you need to go through detox.7
How Long Does Meth Affect You?
While the high lasts for up to 16 hours, meth can affect you for much longer. In general, 4 to 24 hours after the high has ended comes the tweaking phase during which an individual can have symptoms such as:10
- Paranoia and delusions.
After the tweaking phase, an individual will usually feel normal for 2-7 days, until the withdrawal starts. Withdrawal can last up to a few weeks depending on the amount of drug used and for how long the drug have been used.10
However, meth can affect you for the entirety of your life. Some of the long-term consequences of meth abuse include:9
- Changes in brain function and structure.
- Sleeping problems.
- Severe dental issues, known as meth mouth.
- Memory loss.
- Worsening of various mental health problems.
The effects of meth can be long-term and severe. Prolonged use of meth and crystal meth can even lead to an overdose. Therefore, considering undergoing treatment at a specialized facility may be essential for your or a loved one’s recovery.9
Is Meth a Cause of Bipolar Disorder?
There isn’t enough proof that meth can induce mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder. However, high doses of methamphetamine can worsen the symptoms of bipolar disorders. Some meth users with bipolar mood disorder have reported going through an ultra-rapid cycler condition that caused them to switch between manic and depressive states every 3 to 7 days.11
Does Meth Trigger Anxiety?
Around 40% of people who abuse meth have reported having symptoms of anxiety, as well as a history of anxiety disorders. In fact, around 39% of meth users have a lifetime history of anxiety. While there hasn’t been enough research that might prove whether meth can cause anxiety disorder, episodes of anxiety are common symptoms of methamphetamine use.12
- Richards, J. R., Laurin, E. G. (2021). Methamphetamine Toxicity. StatPearls Publishing.
- Schep, L.J., Slaughter, R.J., Beasley, D.M. (2010). The clinical toxicology of metamfetamine. Clinical Toxicology. 48 (7): 675–694.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). How is methamphetamine different from other stimulants, such as cocaine
- Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2006). Appendix B. Urine Collection and Testing Procedures and Alternative Methods for Monitoring Drug Use. Substance Abuse: Clinical Issues in Intensive Outpatient Treatment. Rockville (MD).
- Foundation for a Drug-Free World. The Stages of the Meth “Experience”.
- Barnes, A. J., Smith, M. L., Kacinko, S. L., Schwilke, E. W., Cone, E. J., Moolchan, E. T., & Huestis, M. A. (2008). Excretion of methamphetamine and amphetamine in human sweat following controlled oral methamphetamine administration. Clinical chemistry, 54(1), 172–180.
- Roche, A. M., Watt, K., Fischer, J. (2009). General Practitioners’ views of home detoxification. Dug and Alcohol Review, 20(4), 395-406.
- U.S. Department of Justice. Drugs of Abuse: A DEA Resource.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Methamphetamine Drug Facts.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2004). Drugs and Human Performance Fact Sheets. U.S. Department of Transportation.
- Ikawa, H., Kanata, S., Akahane, A., Tochigi, M., Hayashi, N., & Ikebuchi, E. (2019). A case of methamphetamine use disorder presenting a condition of ultra-rapid cycler bipolar disorder. SAGE open medical case reports, 7, 2050313X19827739.
- Glasner-Edwards, S., Mooney, L. J., Marinelli-Casey, P., Hillhouse, M., Ang, A., Rawson, R., & Methamphetamine Treatment Project Corporate Authors. (2010). Anxiety disorders among methamphetamine dependent adults: association with post-treatment functioning. The American journal on addictions, 19(5), 385–390.