There are a variety of factors that influence how long drugs like speed stay in your system and how long they’ll be detected on a drug test. Variables such as metabolism, body mass, specific drug, and type of test will result in different timeframes.
What is Speed?
Speed is a stimulant drug, also known as an “upper,” that affects the central nervous system. It is misused to feel more alert and focused, to get high, or as an appetite suppressant. “Speed” is actually the street name for both amphetamines and methamphetamine. It can be highly potent and very addictive.
Speed generates an overproduction of dopamine in the brain. Long-term use results in physical changes in brain function and eventually destroys those areas in the brain. Unfortunately, it also strains multiple body systems and can cause stroke, heart attack, and permanent damage to the lungs, heart, kidneys, and liver.
Amphetamine vs. Methamphetamine
Speed can refer to either amphetamines or methamphetamine.
Amphetamines are stimulants prescribed by a doctor to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.
Methamphetamine is similar to amphetamines in chemical structure but is far more potent and has more severe side effects. Though it is most often made illegally for recreational use, Desoxyn is the only legally prescribed methamphetamine drug. Its use is very limited for treating cases of ADHD and obesity.
Prescription Drugs Used as Speed
Prescriptions such as Adderall are most commonly abused by college students to increase academic or sports performance. In these instances, the drugs are often just swallowed in their pill form.
When used recreationally, pills are crushed and can be snorted or mixed with liquid to be injected, creating a quicker and more intense high. Meth is used by inhaling, smoking, swallowing, snorting or injecting.
Prescriptions used as speed include:
Street Names for Speed
The term “speed” is in and of itself a street name. Other terms you may hear for amphetamines and methamphetamine include:
- Black Beauties
- Christmas Trees
- Pep pills
- Bikers Coffee
- Stove Top
How Long Does Speed Stay in Your System?
Many determinants influence how long speed stays in your system. Factors such as the type of drug, your metabolism rate, and your body mass will all influence how quickly the drug is felt and how long it remains active in your body.
If you’re wondering how long speed remains detectable on a drug test, that will primarily depend on the type of test and which form of speed was used, but is also impacted by your own body and health.
Due to the variety of influencing elements, the information below is not definitive and is based on averages. Furthermore, studies have shown that long-term use can show positive results on a drug test for well beyond the timeframes listed below.
Drug Testing Methods for Speed
The most common method of testing for drugs, including speed, is with a urine test. Drug testing is commonly used for employment, as terms of condition for probation, or for criminal or accident investigations and court cases.
There are five testing methods for speed, not including meconium testing, which is limited to detecting maternal drug abuse or infant exposure. These methods include:
Urine testing is the most common and most well-researched of the drug testing methods. Urine tests are readily available and can show high concentrations of both parent drugs as well as metabolites. However, these tests can easily be cheated and may require supervision of collection, resulting in “shy bladder” syndrome and the inability to collect a sample. You can test positive for speed on a urine test within 4-6 hours and for up to 2-5 days after the last use.
Oral fluid testing, also known as a saliva test, is non-invasive and easy to collect. Saliva tests require a much lower screening level than urine and have a reduced risk of faking results as collection is directly observed. On average, you can test positive for speed on a saliva test within a few minutes up to 2 days after the last use.
Hair testing has the longest window of detection and is easy to collect. However, it can be costly, and there are not as many laboratories that perform these tests. In addition, it can be difficult to interpret the results, which may also be biased with hair color or contaminated by environmental factors. Hair tests can detect speed up to 3 months after use.
Though blood tests can detect speed within minutes of use, they are generally only utilized in emergency situations as they have a very short detection window, are invasive, and require trained personnel to administer. On average, speed can be detected in blood for 1-3 days.
Perspiration tests allow for a quick detection using a sweat swipe or longer testing with a sweat patch. The test is non-invasive, requires little training, and is more economical than urine testing. However, the patch could unintentionally come off. Likewise, there hasn’t been enough research for variables. Sweat swipes detect speed use within 24 hours while patches detect use within 7-14 days.
False Positive Tests
If you are taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, it may result in a false-positive result on a drug screen, particularly in urine tests. Always disclose this information to the clinician administering your test to avoid issues. The following drugs could result in a false-positive:
- Nasal inhalers
- Cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine and/or promethazine
- Ephedra-containing products
- Antidepressants such as Wellbutrin, Prozac, Emsam, or trazodone
- Metformin (for type 2 diabetes)
- Ritalin (for ADHD)
- Trandate (for high blood pressure)
Factors That Affect How Long Speed Stays in Your System
Many factors affect the length of time that speed, or any drug for that matter, will remain in your system. How often you use the drug, your body mass, metabolism rate, and even how well you hydrate can impact not only how quickly you feel the effects of speed but also how long it will remain detectable in your body.
Factors that affect how long speed stays in your system include:
- Metabolism rate
- Body mass index
- Method in which the drug was taken
- Quality of the drug
- Amount taken
- History of drug usage (how much and how often it is used)
- Health of your liver and kidneys, which impacts drug elimination
- Other drugs in your body, including prescribed medications or alcohol
Some of these determinants may only make minor impacts, but others can be more drastic. Meaning, two individuals using the same type and amount of speed could still have entirely different results on a drug test based on their personal circumstances.
Side Effects of Using Speed
People will typically use speed to increase energy, awareness, and focus, as well as for the euphoric “rush.” However, the side effects of abusing speed are many and can be very serious.
In the short term, negative side effects include:
- Decreased appetite
- Rapid and irregular heart rate
- Increased breathing
- Heightened body temperature
- Dry mouth
- High blood pressure
- Teeth grinding and jaw clenching
Long term effects include:
- Physical changes to brain structure and function
- Decreased motor skills
- Increased distractibility
- Memory loss
- Aggressive and violent behavior
- Severe dental problems
- Skin sores (as a result of itching and scratching)
- Weight loss
- Mood swings
- Psychosis, paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions
Can You Overdose on Speed?
Yes, it is possible to overdose on speed. In fact, according to a recent study, methamphetamine overdose deaths have risen significantly over the past decade. From 2011 to 2018, the number of deaths increased five-fold!
Common signs of a possible speed overdose include:
- Losing Consciousness
- Severe Headache
- Chest Pain
- Breathing Difficulties
- Confusion, Paranoia, or Agitation
- Snoring or Gurgling, which can be a sign of breathing difficulties
An overdose occurs when taking too much of a drug, or as a severe reaction that results in death, such as:
- Heart Attack
- Liver, Kidney, or Respiratory Failure
Treatment for Speed Addiction
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there are many options to get help. St. John’s Recovery Place offers comprehensive, holistic substance use disorder treatment including medical detox, behavioral therapies, medication-assisted treatment, inpatient and outpatient rehab, and aftercare services. It’s not too late, but don’t wait another day!
Call our office today at 833-397-3422 and speak with a team member who can help get you started on your journey to recovery.
- Mayo Clinic Laboratories. Amphetamine-Type Stimulants (ATS). (2021, September 18.)
- HealthPartners. Interpretation of Opiate Urine Drug Screens. (2021, September 18.)
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Drugs of Abuse Home Use Test. (2018, September 27.) (2021, September 18.)
- SAMHSA. Clinical Drug Testing in Primary Care. (2012.) (2021, September 18.)
- Hadland, S. E., & Levy, S. OBJECTIVE TESTING – URINE AND OTHER DRUG TESTS (2016.) (2021, September 18.)
- Lapcorp. Oral Fluid Drug Testing. (2021, September 18.)
- Redwood Toxicology Laboratory. Laboratory Testing Reference Guide. (2014.) (2021, September 18.)
- DEA. Amphetamines. (2021, September 19.)
- Drugs.com Speed (methamphetamine). (2021, September 19.)
- WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/news/20010301/this-is-your-brain-on-speed (2001.) (2021, September 19.)
- Price, McKayla. Amphetamines vs. Methamphetamine: What’s the Difference?. (2020, December 12.) (2021, September 19.)
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. Methamphetamine overdose deaths rise sharply nationwide. (2021, January 21.) (2021, September 18.)
- Department of Justice/DEA. https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Methamphetamine-2020_0.pdf. (2020, April.) (2021, September 18.)