Drug Tests

Methamphetamine is absorbed by the body quickly, whether administered orally, inhaled, or injected. It crosses the blood-brain barrier and is rapidly distributed throughout the body. While it mimics other stimulant drugs, it is more soluble than others, making its effects more pronounced and impactful. It metabolizes into the blood at peak rates after three to six hours and is fully metabolized by the liver after 10-24 hours.

How Methamphetamine Works in the System

Methamphetamine is excreted from the system by the kidneys, while the pH of the urine determines how much of the drug remains at the time of removal. For methamphetamine administered orally, 30-54 percent will remain as unaltered methamphetamine, while 10-23 percent will process as unaltered amphetamine. For drugs taken by injection, 45 percent passed from the body will remain unchanged methamphetamine and only 7% will synthesize as unaltered amphetamine. The drug is 62.7 percent available via administration through ingestion, 79 percent through nasal inhalation, 90.3 percent available when smoked, and 100 percent when injected through intravenous use.

As it metabolizes, methamphetamine has a half life of nine to 12 hours. This means that the amount of time for the body to eliminate one half of the substance is that period.

Types of Drug Tests for Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine presence can be detected in urine, sweat or saliva. Plasma is tested to determine toxic levels in those who overdose on methamphetamine in a hospital setting. In cases where there is a traffic accident or death outside a hospital setting, forensic units will perform blood tests to determine the presence of methamphetamine in the person(s) involved. While some popular (Internet) sources state that taking zinc supplements will mask the presence of methamphetamine in the urine, it is only recently that researchers from John Jay College of Criminal Justice determined that they were often, but not always, accurate. Tests may be performed to determine the source (whether pharmaceutically produced or illegally) of the methamphetamine. In some of these tests, it can be determined whether the substance is produced using Vicks Inhalers.

Limitations of Drug Tests for Methamphetamine

Results for tests to determine methamphetamine use vary in effective time frames that will give accurate information about use. With a urine test, use within three to five days will be indicated. A hair sample will show even one use of methamphetamine for up to 90 days from the time of use, and blood or saliva testing will show use for one to three days after use.

Legalities of Drug Tests for Methamphetamine

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Drug testing varies from state to state, but national legislation, signed into law in 1989, put federal employees on notice that random drug tests would be performed for specific jobs of high security. As this program developed, employees were mandated to allow random samples to be taken and tested. Positive tests were considered criminal offenses, due to the strict regulations regarding drug/alcohol use in these positions. A positive test carried imprisonment penalties as well as heavy fines and loss of employment. Today, nearly 90 percent of all employers have policies regarding random drug screening for their employees. Not all of them enforce the policies, but most appear to do so. The jobs that are reported to have the highest incidence of drug use/abuse are construction, repair and hospitality. As many as 60 percent of those addicted to drugs are believed to be employed in the workforce.

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