young person smoking meth

The Dangers of Secondhand Meth Smoke Exposure

Methamphetamine, also known as meth, is an illegal and highly addictive stimulant that poses serious health risks, especially when individuals are exposed to secondhand smoke. Inhaling secondhand meth smoke, even in small amounts, can be extremely dangerous. Meth smoke contains toxic chemicals that can lead to long-term lung damage and other health problems. Understanding these dangers can prevent individuals from experiencing the effects of secondhand smoke and from engaging in meth use.

In this article, we will cover what secondhand meth smoke is, the side effects of secondhand smoke exposure, how long the smoke can stay in your system, and how to remove the smoke from your home.

What Is Secondhand Meth Smoke?

According to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2.5 million individuals aged 12 and older reported using meth in the past year. Meth is a potent stimulant that affects the central nervous system, resulting in intense feelings of euphoria after use. Meth can be used by smoking, snorting, injected, or taken orally.

When meth is smoked, toxic chemicals are released into the air. These chemicals cling to walls, furniture, clothes, skin, and hair, polluting the surrounding environment. The more time you spend around people smoking meth or in places where it’s made or used, the higher your exposure to these dangerous fumes.

While secondhand meth smoke may be invisible, its effects are very real.

man blowing out secondhand meth smoke

Side Effects from Secondhand Meth Exposure

Secondhand meth smoke exposure can be dangerous to your health. As meth is smoked, toxic chemicals are released into the air that anyone nearby breathes in. These chemicals may have damaging short- and long-term side effects.

Breathing in secondhand meth smoke can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat. It may cause coughing, headaches, and dizziness. The harsh chemicals can also inflame and damage the lining of the lungs, even from short-term exposure. Long-term damage may include reduced lung function and chronic respiratory issues.

The toxic mix of chemicals may impact the central nervous and cardiovascular systems. Exposure could increase heart rate, blood pressure, anxiety, insomnia, and impaired thinking or coordination. For children, the elderly, or those with pre-existing health conditions, the impacts may be more severe.

Repeated or long-term exposure to secondhand meth smoke has been linked to cancer. The carcinogens released can potentially cause lung cancer and lymphoma. There is also an increased risk of congenital disabilities if pregnant women are exposed.

Read More: Meth Comedown: Timeline, Side Effects, & Detox Tips

Can You Get High from Secondhand Meth Smoke?

Yes, you can get high from secondhand meth smoke. However, this high is referred to as a ‘contact high’ and is less intense than a regular high. A contact high refers to experiencing some effects of a drug by being in close proximity to its use, even without directly ingesting or using the substance. In the case of methamphetamine, it’s possible that being around someone who is smoking or using the drug could result in mild side effects. However, the intensity of these effects will be much lower compared to the effects experienced by the actual user.

What Does a Contact High Feel Like?

As stated above, the effects of a contact high would be similar to what a regular meth high would induce but less intense. Some of the effects an individual may feel include:

  • Mild euphoria or elevated mood. You could feel unusually happy or upbeat.
  • Difficulty concentrating. Your thoughts may race or scatter, impairing focus.
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure. You may notice your heart pounding or feel anxious.

The intensity of effects would depend on the following factors:

  • Your size, weight, health, and history of substance use
  • The potency and amount of meth smoked
  • How well-ventilated the area is

In the few studies on secondhand meth exposure, side effects were noticed more than feelings of being high. The risks to your health are real, though, especially with repeated or long-term exposure. Removing yourself from any area where meth is being smoked is best. Your health and safety should be the priority here.

person smoking meth at a party

How Long Can Secondhand Meth Smoke Stay in Your System?

Secondhand meth smoke exposure is dangerous, and the effects can last in your system for some time. How long it stays depends on factors like proximity and frequency of exposure. The more secondhand meth smoke you inhale, the longer it will remain in your body. Brief exposure to small amounts may clear out in a couple of days, while frequent or heavy exposure can stick around for over a week.

  • Urine tests, the most common type, can detect meth within 1-4 days of exposure and up to 7 days after heavy use.
  • Blood tests find meth for 1-3 days.
  • Saliva tests detect it for 1-4 days.
  • Hair tests spot meth for up to 90 days, as the smoke chemicals get trapped in hair follicles.

Learn More: How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System? And Everything Else You Need to Know

How to Remove Secondhand Meth Smoke from Your Home

Secondhand meth smoke can linger in a home for a long time and be difficult to remove. Here are some steps you can take to eliminate meth residue and fumes from your living space:

Deep Cleaning

Conduct a deep cleaning of the entire home. Wipe down and scrub all surfaces with detergent and hot water, including walls, floors, counters, furniture, ventilation grates, light fixtures, and ceilings. Pay extra attention to the room where the smoking primarily occurred. Vacuum carpets, rugs, upholstery, and bare floors thoroughly using a vacuum with a HEPA filter to capture small particles.


Increase ventilation and airflow as much as possible. Run an exhaust fan to pull out stale air while circulating fresh air. Open all windows and use fans to keep the air moving. Consider renting industrial air scrubbers and purifiers to filter the air. Run these machines continuously for several days to remove lingering odors and contaminants.

Repainting or Replacing

In severe cases, repainting walls and ceilings or replacing carpeting, flooring, upholstery, and ventilation ductwork may be necessary to eliminate stubborn smells and residue. Priming walls and ceilings before painting will increase effectiveness. Replace furnace filters and consider ductwork cleaning or replacement if the smell persists.

These steps can effectively remove toxic secondhand meth smoke from a living space. However, professional hazardous material cleaning and remediation may be required in some situations due to health and safety risks. It’s best to contact local authorities for guidance on proper meth lab cleanup procedures.

person sitting on floor while smoking meth

How Louisville Recovery Center Can Help

The effects of meth exposure go beyond just the user. As a loved one, watching someone deal with addiction is difficult and painful. At Louisville Recovery Center, we understand what you’re going through and are here to help however we can.

Our helpline is open 24/7, so you can contact us at any time. We will listen, provide support, and discuss treatment options confidentially. – Detox and residential rehab treat meth addiction at its core. Our medically supervised detox helps clients safely withdraw from meth, while rehab provides intensive therapy and tools for long-term sobriety. Our peaceful environment, comfortable amenities, and strong community inspire real-life change.

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