Legacy Healing Center Blog
Methamphetamine, also known as meth or crystal meth, is a highly addictive synthetic central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. It’s notoriously addictive, so much so that it’s classified as a Schedule II drug in the United States. While it has its medical uses, methamphetamine is mostly an illicit drug that’s used to get high illegally. Understanding how long meth is in your system after use is important for understanding the drug’s overall impact on the body.
What Is Crystal Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine is typically either smoked in a glass pipe or injected. Both of these methods cause the drug to hit the brain quickly, with intravenous (IV) use being the fastest method of use. This causes a rush or flash or euphoria, otherwise referred to as an intensely pleasurable sensation.
Crystal meth can also be ingested orally or snorted through the nose, producing a long-term high. This high is often marked by increased heart rate, physical activity, blood pressure, and more. These effects can last as long as half a day.
As CNS stimulants, neurons are brain cells that both transmit and receive chemical messages called neurotransmitters. One major neurotransmitter is noradrenaline, which is the fight-or-flight chemical that allows us to respond to threats. It increases heart rate and blood pressure, widens air passages in the lungs, dilates pupils, and narrows blood vessels.
Another chemical messenger that meth impacts is dopamine, which contributes to movement, attention, memory, and mood. It’s also the key element for the euphoric and intense feelings of euphoria that we feel when we engage in pleasurable, everyday things, such as eating, drinking, and sex. Because meth releases dopamine, the user experiences a rush of euphoria, which contributes to continued drug use and addiction.
How Long Do Meth Effects Last?
How long meth lasts in your system and the duration of side effects vary depending on the method of use. For instance, smoking or injecting meth causes a nearly immediate high. This is because the drug enters the brain quicker when it’s inhaled or injected directly into the bloodstream. When snorted, however, meth can take several minutes to kick in. Swallowing the drug is the “least efficient” method of use because it must first pass through the digestive system.
Common side effects of meth include:
- Aggression and violence
- Brain damage
- Domestic violence
- Heart attack
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased body temperature
- Kidney disease
- Legal consequences of risky behaviors
- Liver damage
- Lung damage
- Poor interpersonal relationships
- Rapid breathing
- Rapid heart rate
- Sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS
The rush of a meth high can last anywhere from 15 minutes to a half hour, while the intoxicating effects can persist for 8 to 24 hours. There are also several stages of a meth high, each of which is paired with various effects and last for different periods. Legacy Healing Center offers various levels of care to help those who have developed meth dependence recover, and we can help you, too.
How Long Does Crystal Meth Last in Your System?
The half-life of meth – which is 9 to 24 hours – is a major determining factor for how long meth lasts in your system. Urine tests can detect meth for up to 72 hours after the person’s last use. Methamphetamine metabolizes, or changes, to amphetamine in the body, meaning a drug screening will likely come out positive for both substances.
Blood and saliva testing can be more useful than urine tests for detecting meth in the system. However, both blood and saliva have lower detection windows than urine tests. This means that saliva and blood tests for detecting meth would be more accurate the sooner they’re done. Hair tests for meth can detect the drug for up to 90 days.
Help for Meth Abuse and Addiction
Long-term meth abuse can lead to a severe drug use disorder, which can have numerous physical and psychological problems. Therefore, it’s important to reach out for professional support if you’re struggling with addiction.