How Does Crystal Meth Enter Your System?
Crystal methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant. It typically looks like pieces of blue or white glass or ice. It is also known as meth (most commonly), blue, crystal, ice, and speed. It is the second most popular illegal drug in the world.
There are many ways to use crystal meth: smoking from a glass pipe, injection, injecting, or snorting. Smoking and injection are both very fast-acting and provide a very intense, quick rush of euphoria and energy. Injection is the fastest acting method.
Ingested or snorting causes a longer-lasting high – it can last a half a day depending on how often crystal meth is used.
How Does Crystal Meth Leave Your System?
The average half-life of meth ranges between 10 to 12 hours, meaning it takes 10 to 12 hours for half of the meth in the body to be excreted. The main way meth is excreted from the body is through the urine, however, it can also be excreted by sweating or through bowel movements. Because of this, meth is primarily processed by the liver and kidneys. This can damage both organs, but liver failure is a very common condition in habitual meth users.
The rate of excretion through the urine depends on the pH of the urine. The more acidic the urine, the quicker the meth is excreted. With very acidic urine, the half-life is sometimes cut to seven hours instead of the typical 12, while with very alkaline urine the half-life can go up 30 hours. This is why some try drinking vinegar or cranberry juice to clear the meth from their urine before testing, however, this wouldn’t have a significant enough impact – the test can detect a very small amount of meth.
How Long Will You Experience the Effects of Crystal Meth?
The common effects of crystal meth are feelings of euphoria, increased confidence, and energy bursts from large amounts of dopamine flooding the brain. This can also cause an increase in temperature and heart rate, increase breathing rate, and increased brain activity.
How long these effects will last depends on how long you have been using crystal meth. The effects can last for a few minutes for habitual users to several hours for occasional users. Because the high is so quick, many will “binge and crash”, where they take several doses of crystal meth one after the other. This is an effort to maintain the high for longer.
Meth users can also try to maintain a high for longer using something known as a “run”. This is where the user will take crystal meth every few hours for days. Binging like this has a particularly strong effect on your health, because most users will stop eating or sleeping during that time.
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Meth in Urine, Blood, Saliva, Hair Follicle and Sweat
Even though the effects of crystal meth are over quickly, meth can still be detected on tests. The detection time frame for each test should give an idea for how long crystal meth stays in the various parts of the body.
There are five tests to detect crystal meth use: urine, saliva, blood, hair follicle, and sweat. Deciding on what test to use depends on what information the tester is looking for and what the situation looks like.
Saliva testing is typically used when the tester is trying to figure out if meth was used recently. An example is when someone is in rehab and might have had a relapse. Crystal meth can be detected in the saliva for around 1 to 2 days.
The urine test is the most used, as it is the easiest to obtain. Unfortunately, this means it is also the easiest to cheat on – cleanses and fake urine are all commonly used to get a false negative on crystal meth urine tests. Crystal meth can be detected in the urine for around 3 to 6 days. As we discussed earlier, this timeframe depends on many factors like the acidity of your urine.
Enzymes in your liver convert methamphetamine into amphetamine, which is used as a drug to treat ADHD and narcolepsy, and also into 4-hydromethamphetamine. A urine test typically will have the highest concentrations of the drug when compared to other tests, because the urine is the main route of elimination.
Blood tests are the most useful when a highly accurate test is wanted. The chances of a false negative or positive are very low with a blood test. That said, a certified lab processional or other healthcare provider is needed to draw the blood, which makes this test more expensive and not ideal for many applications. Crystal meth can be detected in the blood for around 3 days.
Hair follicle tests can detect crystal meth for around 10 days after use, but this can be longer if the person frequently uses crystal meth – up to around 90 days. Hair follicle tests are very rarely used and are usually only used to test if someone who recently died was using crystal meth.
One final test that is still somewhat unknown, even though it has been around for a few decades, is the sweat patch test. This is where a patch is applied to the skin for around a week. The patch will detect any crystal meth use during that time frame, along with many other drugs. Employers like this method, because it’s much harder to tamper with.
A study done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that within 2 hours of taking crystal meth it starts to be excreted in the sweat and can be detected by the skin patch. That same study showed that large doses of crystal meth could be detected by a patch that is applied two weeks after taking the drug.
Detection of Crystal Meth in Newborns
If there is a history of crystal meth use or signs that indicate use by pregnant women, testing of the meconium is often done. The meconium is stool passed by infants just after birth. Testing the meconium can detect if the mother used crystal meth in the second half of the pregnancy, however, there are concerns that this test often results in false positives.
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recommends a highly available and structure residence treatment plan for pregnant women or mothers of small children who are addicted to meth over imprisonment or other measures that might interfere with prenatal care. Many pregnant women do not seek out treatment out of fear of losing custody of their children.
Withdrawal from Crystal Meth
Once crystal meth starts to leave your system, you will start to experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms, especially the fatigue and increased appetite, typically start around 24 hours after the last crystal meth use. Common crystal meth withdrawal symptoms can include:
- inability to concentrate
- slowed reactions
- increased appetite
These symptoms start to reduce in severity over a weeklong period. After that, there is a period where some of the symptoms will linger, like anxiety or paranoia. This period lasts two to three weeks.
How long and intense withdrawal will be depends greatly on the age of the user and the severity of the addiction. In general, for older people and people who heavily used crystal meth, the withdrawal period will be longer and more intense. Some users will experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), which can last for months.
A few other factors have been shown to make the withdrawal period more intense and longer-lasting, like using very high-quality, high-potency crystal meth, mental health issues before and during crystal meth use, and a history of using other drugs. Thankfully, withdrawal from crystal meth, while unpleasant, is not as dangerous as withdrawal from other drugs like opioids.
If you have any questions concerning methamphetamine addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one, contact us at Truvida Recovery. Call 800-218-1573 to speak in confidence with an experienced treatment advisor now.