When does meth peak?

Peak concentrations following oral methamphetamine administration are seen in 2-4 hours of dosing. Find out more about meth peak levels and how to recognize meth addiction, here.

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minute read

Ways of using meth affect peak times

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant. Meth can be snorted, administered orally, or dissolved in water or alcohol and injected. Orally taken meth produces a peak in effects more slowly. Smoking or injecting meth are more popular modes of use because peak blood levels are reached in a few minutes of administration. Meth’s effects may peak quickly, but they also fade quickly, which is why people who use methamphetamine often take repeated doses.

What influences the onset of methamphetamine’s effects? What are the signs and dangers of meth addiction? We review more in the following article and invite your questions in the section at the bottom of the page. In fact, we try to provide a personal and prompt response to all legitimate enquiries.

What’s in meth?

Methamphetamine comes in several forms, including powder, crystal, rocks, and tablets. It is a powerful and highly addictive stimulant. Meth is a man-made (synthetic) drug, usually manufactured in illegal meth labs by mixing different forms of amphetamine or derivatives with other chemicals. The key compounds used to create meth are toxic and highly flammable.

These are the chemicals commonly found in methamphetamine:

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  • acetone
  • anhydrous ammonia (fertilizer)
  • ether
  • hydrochloric acid
  • lithium
  • pseudoephedrine
  • red phosphorus
  • sodium hydroxide
  • sulfuric acid
  • toluene

N-methylamphetamine is the main active ingredient found in meth; ephedrine or pseudoephedrine are also common. These two ingredients can be found and extracted from many cough medications, while the other chemicals are extracted from batteries, brake cleaner, engine starter, fertilizer, rubbing alcohol…all common household supplies.

Methamphetamine peak levels

The time needed for meth effects to kick in and to reach peak blood levels depends on the mode of administration. In addition to this, peak meth levels can be influenced by the drug manufacturers, which can change the way the drug dissolves and modify its solubility characteristics.

Peak blood methamphetamine concentrations are:

detected shortly after injection
within a few minutes of smoking
within a her hours (2.6-3.6 hours) after oral administration

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Methamphetamine is metabolized to amphetamine, p-OH-amphetamine and norephedrine. Peak plasma concentrations of the active metabolite amphetamine occur within 10 hours after methamphetamine use. With meth oral, the amphetamine metabolite peaks at 12 hours after initial use. While, following intravenous injection, the mean elimination half-life is about 12.2 hours.

Dangers of long term meth use

Similar to other illicit drugs, long term meth abuse and addiction can have many negative consequences on health, including functional and molecular changes in the brain. Here is a list of possible risks and dangers caused by prolonged and chronic meth abuse:

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  • Access to top treatment centers
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  • addiction
  • aggression and violent behavior
  • damages in the brain structure and function
  • dental problems
  • difficulties in thinking and motor skills
  • hallucinations
  • increased destructibility
  • memory loss
  • mood disturbances
  • paranoia
  • psychosis
  • weight loss

How do I know if I’m addicted to meth?

Meth addiction leads to many changes in the body, brain, and behavior. If you recognize any of the listed symptoms, it is very likely that you or a loved one have developed meth addiction. In these cases, it helps to ask for professional help. Signs of meth addiction include:

  1. Borrowing or stealing money to pay for meth.
  2. Changes in physical appearance (bloodshot eyes, bad breath, shakes or tremors, frequent bloody noses).
  3. Constant mood changes.
  4. Continuous use of meth, even after experiencing severe side effects.
  5. Driving or engaging other dangerous activities when you are on meth.
  6. Eating disorders.
  7. Feeling that you can’t stop yourself from taking meth over and over again.
  8. Increased or decreased need for sleep.
  9. Lost interest in things you once liked to do.
  10. Searching for interactions with people that also use meth.
  11. Taking larger doses of meth to get the same effects.
  12. Taking meth on a regular bases.
  13. Troubles getting along with co-workers, teachers, friends, or family members.
  14. Troubles with doing normal daily obligations.

If you or a loved one display most of the signs and symptoms of meth addiction listed above, you should seek professional addiction help and support. In fact, the sooner you get into meth rehab treatment, the better chances you have of successfully leaving a habit behind. Call our helpline for more information about your rehabilitation options on 1-877-959-3923.

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Meth peak levels questions

Do you still have questions about meth peak levels and meth addiction? We invite you to post them in the designated section below. We make sure to provide a personal and prompt response to all legitimate enquiries, or we’ll refer you to professionals who can help.

Reference sources: NCBI: Pharmacologic mechanisms of crystal meth

NIDA Drug Facts: Methamphetamine

NCBI: Metamfetamine
NIH: Methamphetamine
NIH: Signs of meth use and addiction
Medline plus: Methamphetamine
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.

6 Comments

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  1. Hi Adam. Thanks for the input; good point! The text has been updated accordingly. Feel free to send the link to the “Contact Us” page and I’ll get the reference sources online for you.

  2. I am rather surprised to see that Methamphetamine is not listed as one of the chemicals of what is in Methamphetamine. I understand pure drugs are rare but I would expect at least some methamphetamine to be in methamphetamine. Further, aren’t many of the aforementioned chemicals also used in the synthesis of a multitude of both over-the-counter and prescription drugs. For example hydrochloric acid does indeed sound scary and I would never put that in my baby’s bottle, however, Methylphenidate the #16 most prescribed pediatric medication also contains hydrochloric acid (any drug that has the form drugname.HCl does). I would also hazard to guess that sodium hydroxide is used in the manufacture of this child’s medicine, it’s actually contained in my current toothpaste.

    Interestingly enough methylphenidate has very similar effects and side effects as methamphetamine. One we vilify the manufacturers and customers of the compound,whereas the other is freely give to kids as young as 6, as stated in literature.

    This site considered the links to my sources as “spammy” therefore I had to remove them.

  3. How long does it take for meth to get out of your system so i will pass urine drug screen. Smoked approx 3 months almost at a gram per day.

  4. This article is very informative.

    Meth indeed has long term health hazards if meth abuse is done over a long period. It would really be helpful if effects of meth would be discussed in more details to give more insight.

    Regards
    Zachary

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