How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?

Methamphetamine has been an illegal substance causing problems for hundreds of thousands of Americans for decades and is currently on the rise. Meth users, like other drug users may have concerns about the chemical components of methamphetamine including how long it can stay in their system. It may be because people who use meth have questions regarding the detox process prior to their recovery journey. It may be because they have health concerns. Regardless of the reasons why people want to know, meth can stay in a person’s system for an extended period of time.

Concerned about your methamphetamine use and are wondering how long the effects stay in your system? Whether it’s powder, crystal, or used intravenously, meth can be detected up to three days after the last use. Heavy users who have had a long relationship with this drug can expect to show up “positive” (proof of using) even a week later. Behavioral and psychological symptoms have a high probability of continuing far past a few weeks, even months.

Physically, a large percentage of meth will be processed through the body’s internal system but won’t change its chemical structure as it is removed, so it shows up clearly on a strip when tested. Meth and other drugs can also be detected through saliva tests. Saliva tests can show positive results one to four days after the last dose was used. And then there are the hair follicle tests. Some of these types of tests are very thorough and can show that someone has used up to ninety days after the last use.

So, if you’re using crystal meth or powder— smoking, snorting, or injecting— you may show up positive on a drug test even if you stopped for a while. The best bet is to come “all the way” clean: be honest and get help with using.

Meth: A Vicious Rollercoaster of Euphoria and Depression

Ever taken that ride? Chances are if you’re reading this, you or someone you know has, and it’s time to get “off!”

Methamphetamine, or meth as it is commonly referred to, is one of the most dangerous and addictive drugs on the black market. Meth is classified by the US Drug Enforcement Agency as a Schedule II substance—which they define as “drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous.”

That make makes meth not just Breaking Bad, it’s really BAD.

After using a “hit,” the effects of the meth high can last 7-24 hours depending on the amount taken and the biophysical health of the person using. People smoke, inject, and snort meth. It can reach the brain incredibly fast and creates euphoria, increased energy, and focus. This is due to chemicals affecting the brain’s dopamine response which causes people to experience pleasure through unnatural substances.

Except this is the part of the ride that doesn’t last, and the user will find themselves coming down from the high and experiencing symptoms that are not-so-fun. They include:

  • Severe teeth grinding
  • Excessive sweating
  • Weight loss
  • Anxiety
  • Skin lesions/sores
  • Sleep disorders/insomnia
  • Dry mouth
  • Phantom itching
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Risk taking
  • Mood swings
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Delusions of grandeur
  • Psychosis
  • Digestive issues
  • Paranoia

And if that’s not enough to make someone cringe, chronic meth users experience side effects that can include multiple relapses, and chemical molecular changes in the brain, sometimes irreversible. The more you use meth, the more you need. Because as we are pleasure-seeking creatures, a person’s brain on meth will no longer be able to create dopamine naturally, thus strong cravings for the drug are constant. It is highly probable that meth users fall into depression between doses, making it even harder to get clean from meth addiction.

Psychological side effects from meth use can last a few months to a few years after quitting. It is very important to seek help at a residential meth rehab like Alta Mira to give yourself the best possible chance of recovery.

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How to Spot a Meth User

Meth users can be spotted fairly easily. Usually meth users will change their physical appearance in a short amount of time, creating causes of concern. There can be such a radical shift in physicality and behavior in a relatively short amount of time, that it becomes quite frightening for loved ones, leaving them feeling helpless.

Picture if you will:

You finally get a hold of your good friend and when you see them, they are almost unrecognizable. You knew them as a well-kempt, responsible, and outgoing person. Now standing before you is a teeth-grinding, thin, shadow of their former self. They seem delusional and paranoid. You would like to help, but don’t know how.


Your loved one is suddenly not going to work or school, but staying up days on end in the garage making tiny beaded bracelets by the hundreds. They never come out of the windowless room as you wonder if they are eating or sleeping. Answer: they are not. Your concern grows as you know something is terribly wrong. Finally, they emerge from their isolation and tell you they need help. There’s hope at last.

Help for Meth Addiction Is Just a Phone Call Away

Methamphetamine is a very serious drug that destroys lives, both the users and their loved ones. If you are using and feel like you can’t ask for help from those nearest to you—you can find help here—it’s just a phone call away.

If you are a loved one of someone who you believe is abusing methamphetamine and need suggestions on what to do, we are happy to assist you.

At Alta Mira, we treat everyone with respect. No matter how much or how long you have used, what your appearance is upon admission, your moods, behavior, and thoughts—we will not judge you. We understand. We can help you get off meth and into a healthy life.