Methamphetamine is a dangerous drug that may cause a variety of side effects and unpleasant experiences, from rotting teeth to meth induced psychosis. Here we are going to explain how long meth stays in your system, what to expect during the withdrawal process, and how to find help.
What is Crystal Meth?
Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug sometimes known as ice, crystal meth, or simply crystal. It is related to amphetamine, a drug prescribed to treat ADHD. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a little over three percent of American adults have used meth at least once in their life.
Meth stimulates the central nervous system, and creates a euphoric effect that may last for 6-12 hours. It may be smoked, snorted, or injected, and the method of use can dictate the intensity of effects. With prolonged use, meth can bring a variety of side effects which can impact the user for months or years after quitting.
Meth and Drug Tests
The half-life of meth is a little over twelve hours. This means that your body has processed the drug and only half of it remains in the bloodstream after half a day. After a full day, a quarter of the drug is left in the system. This is relatively long when compared with other stimulants like cocaine, which has a half-life of less than one hour. Although only 25% of the drug remains in your system 24 hours after your last use, a drug test may actually detect levels of crystal meth for longer.
Your everyday drug test can generally detect meth for a period of 2-5 days, but if it is sent to a lab it may be longer. Saliva tests offer about the same accuracy, detecting ice in the body for a few days after use. Hair tests, which are becoming cheaper and more common, can detect meth in the body for a period of three or four months after last use, and with pretty incredible accuracy of when the last use was.
There are many factors that can go into the detection of methamphetamine in your bloodstream. This makes it impossible to offer a definitive answer to the question how long does meth stay in your system? Factors that may affect the rate at which your body cleanses meth from your system include how long you have been using, what your dose was at last use, your weight and personal health, and the method of use.
Side Effects of Abuse
Methamphetamine use can result in a variety of side effects. When using meth, an individual will experience a number of short-term effects and side effects. These include:
- Euphoria and pleasure
- Loss of appetite
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Heat and sweating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Nausea and vomiting
- Mood changes
- Anxiety and panic
- Convulsions from high doses
With long-term use, individuals may experience more severe side effects. Some side effects of methamphetamine use may last for years after quitting using, as meth can create permanent changes in the brain and body. Here are some long-term effects of meth abuse:
- Dental problems (known as “meth mouth”)
- Chronic high blood pressure
- Damage to organs like the liver, kidneys, and lungs
- Nasal damage if snorted
- Dependence and addiction
- Depression or mood changes
- Stroke and epilepsy
- Memory loss and confusion
Side effects tend to worsen when somebody uses for longer periods of time. Meth has been linked to long term brain damage, similar to what is caused by Alzheimer’s Disease, and the decaying of teeth can be a problem that requires medical attention for years.
When your body begins to cleanse itself, you will go through meth withdrawal. Because of the half-life of methamphetamine, withdrawal will generally begin about 24-36 hours after the last dose. What happens during withdrawal is the body is reacting to the absence of the drug in the brain. Because it has been flooded with chemicals from the crystal meth, it has been functioning differently. Withdrawal sets in because the brain and body are adapting to being without the drug.
Like the side effects, withdrawal symptoms vary from individual to individual. People who use for longer periods and at higher doses are likely to experience more severe effects of withdrawal. Individuals with mental health disorders may experience worsening of symptoms during the period of withdrawal as well.
Symptoms of methamphetamine withdrawal include:
- Craving to use meth
- Depression and pervasive sadness
- Muscle weakness
- Decreased appetite
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Amotivational syndrome
- Difficulty sleeping
- Headache and neck pain
- Clenching jaw
- Psychosis and hallucinations
Treatment for Crystal Meth Addiction
There are many addiction treatment centers that work with those struggling with methamphetamine addiction. If you’re struggling with a co-occurring disorder, it’s important to receive help for both your addiction and mental health disorder. With treatment, you can find the tools to build a new life of recovery.
You may also look for free drug rehab options to get help if you don’t have insurance or financial means. No matter what, there are people out there to help you! Addiction can be devastating and painful for an individual and those around them. With the help of a community, professionals, and a program, many people do recover and go on to lead healthy and “normal” lives.