Making Meth: Dangers & Risks

What Is Crystal Meth (Methamphetamine)?

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Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant drug. Commonly known as crystal meth, it was developed in the 1800s and has a long history of use, both recreationally and medicinally. The drug is covered under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, limiting its legal distribution.

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies methamphetamine as a Schedule II controlled substance.1 This classification indicates that while the drug does have some medicinal uses, it is also potentially extremely dangerous, highly addictive, and prone to producing physical and psychological dependence in individuals who use it on a regular basis.

Potent medicinal stimulant drugs like methamphetamine are used in the control of sleep disorders like narcolepsy and developmental problems like ADHD. In some cases, they can be used to stimulate people who have conditions that make them very lethargic, such as those associated with strokes or other brain injuries.

Crystal meth has become a relatively common drug of abuse due to its ability to work quickly, produce extreme euphoria, and be easily manufactured. Meth can be smoked, snorted, mixed with water and injected, or taken orally. The drug has a fast onset of action, and often, its intense effects dissipate rapidly, resulting in a binge and crash cycle.

The DEA reports that methamphetamine use is a significant problem in the United States. Per the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), other street names for methamphetamine include methicechalkcrankglass, and crystal. On the street, it often appears as clear or bluish crystals or shards of glass.

Ingredients Used to Make Street Meth

Crystal meth can be made from a combination of common household products. Although the DEA has attempted to limit access to some of the mandatory ingredients, such as ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, they can still be found over-the-counter at drugstores and other public locations.

Ingredients like acetone, iodine, and toluene may not be exceedingly dangerous on their own. But when they are combined with alcohol from various sources, batteries, chloroform, ether, Freon, energy boosters or energy drinks, and gasoline, the mixture is highly combustible and extremely toxic and can trigger psychoactive effects.

What Is Shake and Bake Meth

The shake and bake procedure is a rather quick and easy method to make meth (compared to traditional production methods) that has recently gained popularity among meth manufacturers. The procedure involves mixing the chemicals in a glass or plastic bottle, such as a soda bottle, and then shaking it vigorously.

Meth Lab Warning Signs

There are some warning signs that an apartment or house may be involved in the production of illegal methamphetamine. Based on reports by the DEA, some signs of a meth lab could include:

  • Blocked or darkened windows.
  • Excessive security warnings or security features, such as numerous signs (e.g., no trespassing, beware of dog, private property), and numerous security cameras or surveillance devices.
  • Various empty containers, including antifreeze, drain cleaner, or pool acid, in the trash.
  • Hoses hanging from windows (used to ventilate the house).
  • An overwhelming smell of solvents.
  • Very secretive occupants or numerous visitors at all times.
  • Occupants who often seem suspicious or appear never to sleep.
  • Hot plates, stoves, or blowtorches inside the house.
  • Indoor lab equipment like glass or plastic tubes, and laboratory heaters or Bunsen burners.
  • Copious bottles of cold medicine, diet aids, ammonia, camping fuel, or solvents.
  • Melted pots and pans.
  • Numerous propane tanks or starter fluid containers.
  • Large amounts of cat litter and few cats around.
  • Lots of empty coffee filters, Mason jars, or other glass containers.
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