What is Meth?

By Myra Davis

Crystal meth, or methamphetamine, is a drug that has taken the United States by storm. Each year, thousands of arrests are made for so-called “meth labs,” where drug users and sellers manufacture the drug at home, in hotels, or in other places. This drug also kills many people annually because of its intense nature. The effects of meth hit users hard and fast, and it is also a very addictive narcotic. While police are working hard to find and punish users and producers of crystal meth, it is still a difficult road, and they are a long way from completely eradicating it from the streets.

What is Meth?

Meth is a highly addictive synthetic drug that affects the central nervous system. It consists of several chemicals, including things like drain cleaner, lye, and an ingredient used in many cold medications called pseudoephedrine. In most cases, it is made into a crystal-like form, but it can also appear as a powder and is typically yellow in color. Users will snort it like cocaine, smoke it like crack, or even inject it like heroin. It has several different “street” names, including crystal, ice, or crank to name a few. Meth is considered to be one of the most highly addictive drugs out today.

Effects of Meth Usage

Meth has a profound effect on the human body. People will experience very serious side effects from using it, including hair and weight loss, paranoia, loss of sleep, dry mouth, no appetite, and even tooth loss. Because meth attacks the central nervous system, muscle damage can occur as well as serious brain damage. Initially, the user may feel euphoric and happy. Over time, these feelings become desensitized, and users will feel less and less emotion and reaction to physical stimulation. Many people who use meth experience permanent brain damage. Some people become extremely violent and aggressive from using meth.

Effects of Meth Labs

Since most ingredients in meth can be purchased in drug stores and from chemical suppliers, many people make it themselves to either use or sell. The problem with meth labs is that they are extremely dangerous. The combination of chemicals releases noxious fumes into the air and can cause serious side effects if breathed in. They can also cause explosions and fires, which then become a danger to others around the meth labs. Police work tirelessly to find and punish people who operate these labs, but some drug makers are now becoming more mobile and moving the labs from place to place. If children or pets are located anywhere near these chemicals, it can affect them tremendously.

Signs of a Meth Lab

Crystal meth is becoming an epidemic. In many instances, people are shocked to find out their neighbors are actually running a meth lab in their own homes. So what are some common signs of a potential meth lab? You may notice odd, chemical smells coming from a dwelling or building. The occupant will most likely cover their windows with dark fabric or plastic so that no one can see inside. There may also be extra security added to a home, as well as unusual ventilation systems installed that look to be outside the norm. Dead plants are also a common sign, since many people dump residual chemicals outside, thus killing the plants and grass. If you notice people coming and going, acting skittish, and spending a lot of time outside, there is a possibility that there is some illegal activity going on.

What to Do if You Spot Signs of a Lab

If you think someone near you is operating a meth lab, do NOT confront them directly. The best thing to do is to contact your local authorities and let them know about suspicious signs or behavior. Write down things you observe and include dates and times if possible. If you think you can take photographs safely, feel free to do so. The police can use these as evidence in the future if they plan to prosecute. Keep your children away from the possible meth lab. Remember, you do not have to give police your personal information if you prefer to remain anonymous.

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