How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?

Methampetamines are an insidious class of drugs that wreaks havoc on your body, and can be detected for around three months.
Nina Fenton
Published on

What is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is a very popular, dangerous, and one of the most addictive drugs being used in cities across the county by people young and old. It is closely related to the stimulants phenethylamine and amphetamine, except methamphetamine is much stronger. It is common for methamphetamine to be referred to as crank, ice, meth, crystal meth, speed, glass and chalk, due to its powdery or crystal like appearance prior to being smoked, snorted or injected.

Meth is considered to be one of the many Schedule II street drugs under the Controlled Substance Act. But, its status as an illegal substance has done little to ward off its use and distribution, according to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The survey reports that over 12 million people over the age of 12 have experimented with meth at least one time in their lives. That’s a startling 4.7% of the population! The NSDUH also found that roughly 1.2 million people admitted to using meth within the year of the survey.

Side Effects of Methamphetamine Use

This is a drug that does quite a number on your body and mental health thanks to its ability to weasel its way into your brain and central nervous system. Meth is known for packing a powerful punch and walloping users with a bevy of harmful side effects. Here’s what to expect should you or someone you know decide to use methamphetamines:

  • Increased focus
  • Increased energy levels that result in an increase in activity
  • Wakefulness/Insomnia
  • Rapid speech
  • Loss of appetite
  • Elevated mood, often in the form of elation and an onslaught of positive emotions
  • Elevated heart rate and heart palpitations
  • Hyperthermia
  • Rapid breathing

The list of less than desirable side effects doesn’t end there, though. There’s a long list of dangerous after-effects that occur with the more meth you use and the longer you use it. Some additional side effects are:

  • Compulsively picking at the skin resulting in open sores
  • Formication, the feeling that the skin is being crawled on (or under) by small insects or prickling and tingling (pins and needles sensation)
  • Severe tooth decay that is commonly referred to as “meth mouth”
  • Hair loss due to meth’s harmful chemicals along with a deficiencies of vitamins and nutrients
  • Addiction
  • Psychosis, with incidents of paranoia, mania and hallucinations
  • Repetitive movement of hands, feet, arms and legs
  • Memory loss
  • Aggressive, violent and agitated behaviors that may be accompanied by outbursts
  • Depression and other mood disturbances as a result of the damage to the brain’s structure and function

Different Types of Meth

It is important to note that there are four different types of meth commonly used, each of which can impact the outcome of drug tests and require further testing of the specimen to gain an accurate result. Each particular type of meth has a slightly different chemical makeup due to the way it was manufactured, which will also alter its potency, method of use, duration of effects and likely the frequency and quantity used.

You see, meth has its own very specific set of metabolites that are found in the samples being scrutinized after a drug test is sent to the lab. Meth in all its many forms always presents itself in a drug test as an amphetamine through its metabolites and it is upon further testing that it is revealed to truly be meth or an actual amphetamine based upon the amount of isomers present. A more potent type of meth is going to present with more isomers, which are going to be found in different amounts depending on amount/frequency of use and how well your body processes the metabolites.

It’s a pretty good idea to be aware of the four different types of meth made and used if you intend to use or already are, especially if you’re at risk of being drug tested, so here they are:

  • L-Methamphetamine: Users of L-Methamphetamine are likely to experience increased heart rate, raised blood pressure, shakes, tremors and an upset stomach. Many users also report that they do not feel the boost in alertness that typically associated with meth.
  • D/L-Methamphetamine: This type of meth is created using the large scale production method, amalgam (P2P) and was pretty popular during the 1960’s. D/L-Methamphetamine is still used today as users tend to seek the intense rush that comes after it has been injected. However, there are a great many less than desirable side effects that accompany that rush, such as shakes, tremors and stomach pains.
  • D-Methamphetamine: D-Methamphetamine is used made following the process of reducing ephedrine, and red phosphorous, which makes for much smaller batches than those that are produced with the amalgam method. This type of meth is said to be 2-10 times more powerful on a physiological level than other types and has fewer adverse side effects. As a result, it is the most popular form of meth used. Less adverse side effects doesn’t mean that there aren’t any, though! In fact, users can expect to experience rapid heart rate and breathing, dilated pupils and increased body temperature.
  • D-Methamphetamine HCI: You may have heard of meth being referred to as “ice,” which is actually just a street drug reference to D-Methamphetamine. This nickname was earned due to its pure nature and crystal like appearance. It is an easily smoked substance, leaving a much desired residue on the users pipe and offering up a high that lasts for up to 12 hours. Don’t be fooled by its nonthreatening name because “ice” has its own set of less than desirable side effects like frenetic energy, artificial confidence, violent behavior, severe mood swings, insomnia, depression and a whole heap of other nasty issues.

Meth Detection Factors

As with most drug tests, one performed to determine if meth is present can be impacted by one way by a series of detection factors. It is important to note that each of the following detection factors will vary per person and there is no one size fits all system here as each of our bodies works in its own unique way. So, just keep that in mind if you do happen to use meth and have an appointment to have a methamphetamines drug test on the horizon.

With that in mind, here are some key meth detection factors to keep in mind:

Amount Used: As you can likely imagine, the quantity and frequency at which meth is used play as rather large role in the length of time the body takes to expel it. You see, our livers are on duty for this process and it’s by no means an easy job for this little organ to accomplish. The liver is only able to process small amounts at a time given its rather busy job of trying to detox our systems of many other things at any given time. Essentially, it goes through its own very complicated detox process working in stages. It’s not like we can just press a button and tell the liver the prioritize the processing of one thing over another when it’s convenient, however, that would be convenient.

So, meth, just like everything else, gets worked out of the body a little bit at a time. This means that the more meth you ingest and the more often you do it, the longer it will take for your little liver to kick it out of your body. This in turn will result in a larger window detection window and may ultimately effect the outcome of the drug test.

Tolerance: One’s tolerance to meth tends to increase over time as your body gets used to the meth being ingested. As your tolerance increases, so does the desire to increase the amount being used in order to achieve the desired effects. A game of cat and meth invariably ensues as the amount amount of meth needed is continually increasing, which leads to more meth being and the frequency of use increasing right along with it.

We see longer detection times follow as a result due to the quantity and frequency of meth being used, just as we pointed out above. You can expect the same results and thank your increased tolerance for it, too.

Age: The old saying, “age ‘aint nothing but a number” doesn’t quite hold up when we’re talking about meth detection times. In fact, age has a lot to do with meth detection times as it ultimately plays a role in how well your body detoxes itself by way of your metabolism rate. For the most part, meth may exit your system a bit sooner if you’ve got a faster metabolism and may take longer if you have a slower metabolism rate.

Typically, the younger you are, the faster your metabolism and the faster you’re body can do its job of processing the meth. The same works in reverse as it’s common for your metabolism to slow down steadily as you age and take longer to work its magic of ridding your body of meth. Obviously there are other factors that play into the actual amount of the substance expelled and there aren’t any concrete rules, but you can certainly count on your age and its resulting metabolism in playing a pretty solid part.

Health: Another key piece in the detection factor puzzle is your overall health as it has a direct impact on how well your body’s various parts and systems function as well as how long it takes to get rid of meth. It’s really as simple as it sounds, too!

Being in good health enables your organs and body systems to work more efficiently, which means that everything is working as harmoniously as possible and detoxing the meth ingested efficiently. This often results in your body being rid of meth sooner and decreases the duration that you may test positive.

Poor health can play just as large a role in your body’s ability to rid itself of meth as being in good health does. Poor health has a tendency to take a toll on how well your body systems and organs function. This then has the potential to slow down how fast meth is able to be detoxed because things may not be working at their peak.

Testing Methods and Detection Time

Okay, now we can get to the nitty gritty here as we delve into the various drug testing methods available to determine if meth is present in the body as well as how long it can be detection. Grab a pen and paper because this is some pretty useful information. Don’t forget the detection factors, though!

  • Urine: Be prepared to pee in a cup because urine drug tests are the most common testing method used when an employer wants to see if you’ve been partaking in a bit of illegal substance use. Depending on the method and type of meth ingested, it can be detected as soon as 2 to 5 hours and for 3 to 5 days after it was last used.
  • Blood: Hopefully needles don’t make you queasy because blood tests are also used as meth drug testing methods. Keep in mind that meth can be detected in the blood within 1 to 2 hours and anywhere from 1 to 3 days after use.
  • Saliva: Open up and say “ah” because even your saliva can be used to test for meth. All it takes is a sweep of a cotton swab on your cheek to spill the beans about your meth use and the detection time is pretty darn quick, too. In fact, meth can be found in your saliva a mere 10 minutes after you last used it and anywhere from 1 to 4 days after.
  • Hair: Your hair is a treasure trove of your drug use history, and hair follicle drug tests are common in employment testing and court ordered drug tests. Those luscious locks of yours can hang on to evidence of meth usage for around 90 days.

Drug tests that can detect Meth

Urine and hair follicle drug tests for methamphetamines are available at over 5000 Health Street locations nationwide. Register online or call 888-378-2499.


Nina works hard to be a voice to the voiceless whose stories about drug testing, DNA testing and paternity deserve to be told. It is her goal to always come from a place free of judgment and full of compassion.


Nina works hard to be a voice to the voiceless whose stories about drug testing, DNA testing and paternity deserve to be told. It is her goal to always come from a place free of judgment and full of compassion.


Drug Testing

Read Health Street's dramatic and informative drug testing stories.


Drug Testing

Read Health Street's dramatic and informative drug testing stories.