A Guide to Amphetamine Drug Testing

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The ongoing DNA series on drug testing designed to help people understand the ramifications of drug use in legal scenarios has already explored the legal consequences of ketamine, cocaine, and cannabis. This post focuses on amphetamine - commonly known by its street names, speed, billy, and whizz.

Most amphetamines are a class B substance in the UK. The exception is the class A substance methamphetamine (meth or crystal meth). The possession, supply (selling, dealing or sharing) and production of amphetamines and methamphetamines contain severe legal consequences under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
Methamphetamine's legal consequences are markedly worse due to its class A status. 
The maximum penalty for possession is up to five years in prison for amphetamine. For supply and production, it's up to fourteen years in prison - both carry an unlimited fine.

Methamphetamine has a maximum penalty for possession of up to seven years in prison. For supply and production, the maximum penalty is up to life in prison - both also carry an unlimited fine.

The exception is amphetamine prescriptions.

Below, we will provide answers to the following questions relating to amphetamine drug testing:

  • Will amphetamines show in a drug test?
  • How long does amphetamine stay in your system?
  • What types of methods are available for amphetamine testing?
  • What factors influence amphetamine detection?
  • Why might a court-ordered amphetamine test be necessary?
  • What happens if an amphetamine test comes back positive?
  • How we can help

Will Amphetamines Show in a Drug Test?

Yes, test results vary depending on test type, when the test is taken, and the individual being tested.

How Long Does Amphetamine Stay in Your System?

The length of time amphetamine stays in your system depends on how much individuals take, consumption method, and whether it's mixed with other drugs.

Typically, the effects last for 3 - 6 hours on average, but traces within the body last for extended periods, as highlighted by the table below:

Body System Time in System
Blood Up to 48-60 hours. 60 hours for amphetamine salts.
Saliva Up to 48 hours. 55 hours for methamphetamines
Fingernail 3 to 6 months
Hair Up to 12 months depending on hair
Urine 1 to 3 days

What Types of Methods are Available for Amphetamine Testing?

Blood Test: Detected up to 60 Hours

The blood test is a reliable way to detect amphetamine in the bloodstream for up to 48 hours after consumption and up to 60 hours for amphetamine salts - it's the most reliable within 24 hours of consumption for accurate blood level detection. 

Blood tests yield exceptionally reliable results that legal and healthcare professionals can trust, making it one of the more commonly used drug tests, typically in conjunction with urine tests. 

Rapid Saliva Test: Detected up to 55 Hours

The saliva, or oral, test is one of the quickest ways to detect recent amphetamine use - results will show in up to 30 minutes. Law enforcement professionals typically use this test to detect amphetamine levels at the time of an offence.

The window for detection is up to 48 hours for amphetamine use and 55 hours for methamphetamines. This test is often used alongside urine tests to provide healthcare and legal professionals with accurate results.

Fingernail Test: Detected up to 6 Months

The fingernail drug test allows healthcare and legal professionals to detect amphetamine use up to 6 months before the test. Once amphetamine consumption occurs, it will enter the bloodstream and embed under your nails into the keratin from your blood vessels.
Fingernail testing is highly accurate.

Hair Test: Detected up to 12 Months

Like with the fingernail drug test, hair drug testing provides an extended window for detection. As with fingernail samples, drug traces remain in the keratine of your hair, but the detection period depends on the length of the hair. 

On average, hair will grow at a rate of 1cm a month. If individuals have 6cm of hair, there's a window to detect 6 months of consumption. Courts will often ask for a pattern of your consumption. Segmenting the hair into monthly sections forms a comprehensive assessment of changes in drug use patterns.

The only limitation is a waiting period of up to three weeks for amphetamine to show in hair strand samples.

Urine Test: Detected up to 3 Days

Urine testing is one of the most common test types for detecting most forms of drug use. The window for detection varies, but on average, it's up to 3 days. Factors that will cause detection type to vary, such as an individual's metabolism and the level of amphetamine consumption.

Urine tests are typically effective tests completed alongside blood tests to paint an accurate picture for healthcare and legal professionals.

What Factors Influence Amphetamine Detection?

Many factors influence amphetamine detection, including:

  • When amphetamine consumption occurred
  • Consumption method
  • Amount consumed
  • Hydration levels
  • Overall health
  • Age
  • Metabolism
  • Frequency of use

Other factors include the type of amphetamine and the test sensitivity.

Why Might a Court-Ordered Amphetamine Test be Necessary?

A court can request a court-ordered amphetamine test for multiple reasons - one of the most common is committing an offence under the influence of amphetamine. Each test can determine whether the individual was under the influence of amphetamine at the time.

In some cases, like family court matters like child custody disputes, court-ordered drug testing can determine a parent's fitness to care for a child and ensure the well-being of the child.

What Happens if an Amphetamine Test Comes Back Positive?

A positive result in a court-ordered amphetamine test can have severe legal and personal implications. We've highlighted the charges for a criminal case above - a positive result will strengthen a prosecution argument and can lead to charges and convictions for a drug-related offence. 

If it's a family court matter like a child custody case, a positive amphetamine drug test result could limit visitation rights and supervised visitation time for the child's well-being. 

However, there are instances where individuals can request a petition to the court for reconsideration if they actively seek and complete rehabilitation and support to address substance misuse issues.

The court's action upon a positive amphetamine result will vary and depend on specific factors and circumstances.

How We Can Help

This comprehensive guide to amphetamine testing explored the various amphetamine testing methods, the detection times, and the ramifications of a positive result. It's essential to understand amphetamine misuse can have severe personal and legal consequences. 

DNA Legal are here to help, whether you need amphetamine drug testing for personal or legal reasons. 

Our experts can provide guidance and support your needs. By understanding the details about amphetamine detection, you can make informed decisions about the next steps

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