How Long Do You Stay High?

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If you are high, or if you suspect a loved one is high, you might wonder how long the high will last. Wondering how long a high lasts is natural given the fact that it is an artificial state. You may notice changes in behavior or thinking and want to know when these changes will revert to normal. Understanding how long a high lasts is an important step towards understanding more about the effects of a drug and provides context for interactions with individuals who are under the effects of drugs.

Unfortunately, although the question of how long a high lasts seems fairly basic, it doesn’t have a simple answer. The reason for this is because the length of time you stay high depends upon what drug or drugs you are taking. Certain drugs will have a much more powerful and much longer high, while others will be broken down and excreted quickly from the body and consequently have a much shorter high.

Although there isn’t a simple answer to how long you stay high, we can take a look at some of the most commonly abused substances to find out how long the high they produce lasts. This type of specific information is generally more helpful for figuring out how long you stay high, given that it varies so greatly between different types of substances.

What Do We Mean When We Say “High”?

From the outset, let’s get a sense of what we are talking about when we are referring to a “high”. When individuals speak about getting high, they are using a term that is popular yet not grounded in any one specific feeling. Rather it is a collection of effects that come along with taking a drug or substance. Since substances of abuse produce so many effects, both positive and negative for the user, it can be useful to understand which effects the term “high” is referring to.

Typically, when people speak about a high from drugs or alcohol, they are referring to the fact that drugs and alcohol tend to produce feelings of euphoria and well-being to varying degrees. This doesn’t completely capture what the term is referring to, however. While euphoria may be a predominant effect for drugs such as heroin, it is generally not the effect that users are referring to when they speak of getting high on hallucinogens. For hallucinogens, the high itself would be embodied by the auditory, visual, and psychological impairment that is associated with that type of drug. For stimulants such as methamphetamine, the high will be feelings of euphoria alongside increased heart rate, increased energy, alertness, and a lack of fatigue.

In addition to the fact that different substances produce profoundly different effects on the body, you should also keep in mind that each person is different. Each person will experience a “high” differently than someone else. The same is true for how long a high will last. Two people that take the same amount of a drug will probably be under the effects of that drug for different periods of time. A large part of this comes down to physiological differences. Some individuals may breakdown substances in their body faster than others. The subjective experience of taking a drug will also play a part in how long-lasting or how debilitating a drug high is.


Heroin is one of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States, which makes it a useful place to start. Heroin is an opiate that is synthetically manufactured. It’s closest legal equivalent is morphine, which heroin breaks down to in the body a short time after it is taken. Heroin itself is stronger than morphine and has a much stronger interaction when it is initially taken.

The intensity of the high associated with heroin is dependent on a number of factors, including how much was heroin taken, the purity of the heroin, the user’s tolerance, and the method that was used to take it. The onset of effects can be immediate if it is taken intravenously, or the full onset of effects can take a few minutes to fully manifest if heroin is smoked. Snorting heroin will result in an onset that is slower than injection but faster than smoking.

The peak effects of a heroin high only last a very short period of time, and will typically fade within 30 minutes. However, the remaining effects of the drug, which are still powerful, can still be felt many hours later. The exact length of time will vary depending on the user, tolerance, dose, and method of consumption. However, most effects will face within 12 hours of taking the drug, at which point the body will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms as the drug is broken down and excreted from the body.

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Like heroin, cocaine is a commonly abused drug in the United States. Cocaine produces powerful stimulant effects in the user alongside very feelings of euphoria. Like heroin, the rate of onset and the intensity of the high associated with cocaine will vary for each individual. Individuals with a high tolerance may experience effects that last less time than a first-time user. Other factors such as dose and method of administration are also important to consider when assessing how long you stay high from cocaine.

The method of administration will have a large impact on how long a cocaine high lasts and how intense a cocaine high is. Smoking cocaine or crack will result in effects almost instantly. Injection is slightly less effective than inhalation, but still produces effects almost instantly. Snorting is also a popular form of consumption for cocaine and produces a full effect within thirty minutes. Unlike heroin, cocaine is frequently taken repeatedly within a very short period of time. This will produce much higher levels of cocaine metabolites in the bloodstream and can have an impact on how long the high actually lasts.

Cocaine is rapidly broken down by the body, so the high associated with cocaine is consequently much shorter than a drug like heroin. You can expect the high of cocaine to largely fade within a few hours of the last dose, but these effects may last much longer if there is a substantial amount of cocaine in the user’s system.


Methamphetamine is one of the most commonly abused illicit substances, and so it is worthwhile understanding how long the high lasts. A meth high is characterized by powerful feelings of euphoria accompanied by increased energy, decreased fatigue, and heightened alertness.

Like cocaine, methamphetamine is a stimulant. However, the high from methamphetamine lasts much longer than that of cocaine. Users who take meth will generally continue to feel effects for up to 24 hours after the last administration of the drug. This timeline will be impacted by the user’s tolerance for the drug, their dose, their method of administration, and how much of the drug is already in their system.

Like cocaine, methamphetamine is often taken again once the effects begin to wear off. Whereas the effects of cocaine wear off within a few hours, the effects of meth can last up to 24 hours. Users who repeatedly take meth, commonly referred to as a binge, may continue to take the drug for days at a time. During this period the body’s normal need for sleep is abated through the powerful stimulant effects of the drug. When the body can no longer stay awake regardless of the stimulant in it, the meth user will crash. Given the pattern of use for meth, it can sometimes be difficult to know exactly how an individual will stay high for. Roughly half of the drug will be removed from the body within 12 hours, but the concentration of the drug in a user’s body will depend on how often they are taking meth and their method of administration.

Closing Thoughts

What’s clear from this discussion is that the length of time a high lasts varies depending on a number of factors. Foremost among these is what type of substance is taken, and how long that substance lasts in the body. From the examples we looked at, the high from cocaine lasts the least amount of time and typically fade within a few hours. In contrast to this, methamphetamine has effects that can be felt up to 24 hours after the last dose was administered.

A key factor to keep in mind is that even when the same drug is considered, the length of time the high lasts will vary between individuals. The subjective experience of that high will also vary depending on the individual. An individual with a lower tolerance will experience a high longer than an individual with a higher tolerance. Similarly, the method of administration can have a big impact on how intense a high is and how long it lasts. In most cases, injection or smoking are going to result in the fastest onset of a high, but this also varies depending on the drug. Drugs that have an immediate and powerful onset generally peak faster, but the high will also fade faster.

If you believe that someone close to you is high, the most important thing is to be mindful of changes to their behavior or actions. These are usually key indicators that they are still under the effects of the drug. It is also important to keep in mind that if you believe someone close to you is high, it’s not too early to begin thinking about getting them the help they need. Battling addiction is difficult, but it becomes more difficult through prolonged use. Getting a loved one the help they need early on will give them the best chances for a successful recovery.

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