Methamphetamine, or crystal meth, is a stimulant drug created by mixing amphetamines and other substances. Meth is highly addictive due to the intense initial rush and the following high.
While a meth high lasts considerably longer than the highs of other illicit drugs, it only lasts so long. Those who engage in methamphetamine abuse often use meth in a binge and crash cycle.
No matter how long they are able to extend the high, people who use meth face a long withdrawal and behavioral health side effects that could last the rest of their lives.
How Long Does A Methamphetamine High Last?
Depending on the method of abuse, you can feel the initial rush or flash of meth in minutes.
That initial euphoric stage usually lasts about 30 minutes, but you will feel continued short-term effects for up to 24 hours after your last dose.
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Length Of Methamphetamine Effects
Methamphetamine has both short-term and long-term effects. One immediate effect is that the intense high often results in methamphetamine drug addiction.
After the initial rush wears off in about five minutes (sometimes as long as 30 minutes), the short-term stimulant effects continue for eight to 24 hours.
Short-term effects of meth include:
- increased attention
- increased wakefulness
- release of high levels of dopamine
- increased activity
- decreased fatigue
- increased respiration
- decreased appetite
- hyperthermia (elevated body temperature)
- increased heart rate or irregular heart rate
- increased blood pressure
The long-term effects of methamphetamine abuse can be devastating to your body and your brain.
People who abuse meth over long periods of time develop a tolerance to the drug, which requires them to take more of the drug to experience the same high.
Studies and brain imaging of people who have used meth for long periods have shown that meth damages areas of the brain having to do with memory, motor control, emotions, and learning.
Heavy meth use can also induce psychosis, including tactile hallucinations that feel like bugs under the skin. This can cause intense scratching that leaves behind open sores that are prone to infection.
Other long-term effects of the drug include:
- repetitive actions
- loss of concentration
- diminished motor control
- aggressive behavior
- memory loss
- intense teeth grinding
- loss of appetite
- severe weight loss
Some of these can be reversed. Meth sores can heal, and weight can be regained. Unfortunately, some of the damage to the brain and motor functions can only be partially restored.
In some cases, stress can induce psychotic symptoms months or even years after a person has quit using meth.
How Long Is Methamphetamine Withdrawal?
Methamphetamine withdrawal is broken into two phases. The first phase is the acute phase, which lasts an average of seven to 10 days.
During the acute phase, withdrawal symptoms can include:
- sleepiness and fatigue
- increased appetite
During the second phase, a person withdrawing from meth can expect to experience the former symptoms but less intensely. This phase of withdrawal usually lasts for at least two weeks.
Does Method Of Abuse Affect How Long A Meth High Lasts?
Different methods of drug abuse can affect the intensity of the high and how long it takes for it to happen.
Smoking drugs such as methamphetamine allow the drug to be quickly absorbed by your system. The effects can be felt intensely in minutes.
Similarly injecting methamphetamine into your bloodstream gives the drug quick access to the dopamine receptors in your brain. You can feel the effects in minutes.
Snorting a drug is another way to ingest it quickly. Though it may not be quite as quick as injecting or smoking meth, it can still be felt in a short period of time.
The longest-acting method of abuse involves swallowing the drug. The high can take two to four hours to reach peak symptoms and is usually not as intense as other methods.
How Long Is Meth Detectable During A Drug Test?
Methamphetamine can be detected through multiple types of drug tests. Drug detection windows for meth depend on how long it stays in the different fluids being tested and the amount of meth used
Meth has a half-life ranging from six to 15 hours, so it can stay in your system for a long period of time depending on how much you have used.
A urine test can detect methamphetamine in your system for up to four or five days by finding the metabolites that are created when your body processes meth.
Blood tests detect the actual compounds of the drug, not the metabolites, so blood tests have a shorter window of detection.
In addition to the short detection window, the complications of intravenous drug use often make blood tests impractical. Nevertheless, detection times can range from two to 12 hours.
In a hair follicle test, methamphetamine can be detectable for up to 90 days beginning about a week after the initial use.
A saliva test can only detect meth for one to 48 hours after the last use.
Is It Possible To Speed Up Methamphetamine Withdrawal?
You can’t speed the meth withdrawal period. The process of meth withdrawal will take about three weeks in total.
However, by seeking professional treatment and detox services, you may be able to alleviate some of the more intense and dangerous symptoms of meth withdrawal.
Detox programs for meth treat withdrawal symptomatically with benzodiazepines and antipsychotic medications to manage the most egregious symptoms.
FAQs For Methamphetamine High, Effects, And Withdrawal
There is still more to know about methamphetamine use and how long the high, effects, and withdrawal of the drug last. Please review the frequently asked questions below.
Does Meth Last Longer Than Cocaine?
Yes, the methamphetamine high typically lasts longer than what you would experience with a cocaine high.
Are The Long-Term Effects Of Methamphetamine Reversible?
Some of the long-term effects of methamphetamine addiction are reversible, while others aren’t. It depends on the severity and duration of the abuse.
In particular, the damage to the central nervous system may be permanent, while many physical symptoms can be reversed with medical attention from a healthcare professional.
Do People Commonly Drug Test For Meth?
Yes. Many simple urine tests test for the byproducts of methamphetamine use.
How Can I Safely Detox From Meth?
The best way to safely detox from methamphetamine abuse is to find a treatment program that can administer appropriate levels of medication to treat the symptoms.
Medical detox programs can also monitor your progress and respond to your needs as they come up until your condition improves.
Learn more about drug detox for meth abuse.
Find Addiction Treatment For Methamphetamine Abuse Today
If you are living with methamphetamine abuse, you do not have to do it alone. You can find meth addiction treatment at a treatment center in your state or possibly even your city.
Call our helpline to learn how we can guide you or your loved one on the first steps of the recovery process by helping you find the treatment options and therapies that you need.
Published on December 13, 2022
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- Child Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America
- National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)