Despite the debilitating and degenerative effects of methamphetamine, its use continues to grow. The production and sales of Meth are on the rise as labs sprout up across the country. Instead of clandestine ‘super-labs’ in the middle of the woods, Meth labs are now in operation all over suburban and urban America.
In 2004, the Drug Enforcement Agency seized 23,829 Meth labs across the country. These incidents include labs, dumpsites and equipment. The numbers declined in the three years that followed, only to climb again as authorities discovered new methods of production. In 2012, more than 11,000 labs were seized. As the hues of drugs change, so do their production–and so, too, must law enforcement. Like a game of Whack-a-Mole, authorities get a handle on one method of production only to find that dealers have come up with surreptitious ways to circumvent the law.
No matter how many songs are written and movies are made to glorify Meth, it is never glorious. Meth use and addiction only ends in devastating loss and death. This becomes especially clear when you understand what Meth actually is.
Methamphetamine is, in fact, a neurotoxin. This means that it is a poison. At the same time, it is a psychostimulant–meaning that it changes the mind, causing hallucinations, unfounded anxiety and depression, and psychotic episodes.
While it causes a potent euphoria–the reason it is so sought after–the degenerative effects on the body are rapid and devastating. One can see from just the physical aspect of the drug that it causes the body to waste away. Meth Mouth is an inevitable side effect, causing rapid tooth decay. Skin becomes pock-marked as the poison affects the skin and as hallucinations cause the user to pick at his skin. Crank Bugs are a common hallucination among Meth users, which causes them to see insects crawling under their skin.
Meth causes irreversible brain damage, altering structure and function.
Methamphetamine is manufactured or “cooked” in clandestine labs that can be put together with equipment and materials that are readily available. Meth recipes can be acquired on the Internet or by other people with experience cooking the drug.
It is for this reason that anyone, no matter their location, income level, or societal status, could be manufacturing Meth. This puts others in extreme danger, however, as Meth labs are considered virtual time bombs. The chemical reactions involved in the combination of Meth ingredients can–and often do–result in chemical fires, explosions and the release of toxic gases.
Additionally, the production of Meth results in five to seven pounds of solid and liquid chemical wastes for each pound produced. This hazardous waste can contaminate a building and its contents or the groundwater or soil where it is dumped.
How to Recognize a Meth Lab
Labs can exist in any area imaginable. A Meth lab could be set up indoors or outdoors, in houses, apartment buildings, motels, vehicles, wooded areas or fields.
You may suspect a Meth lab if you see the following indications:
• Frequent visitors throughout the day and night
• The people who live there seem to be unemployed yet have no problem buying things with cash.
• Unusual security measures have been taken, such as window coverings, signs, fences or cameras.
• A strong chemical smell including ammonia.
• Wastes such as pill packages (ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are the main ingredients in Meth), empty containers of antifreeze, gas, ether, starting fluids, freon, lye, paint thinners, acetone, alcohol, rock salt or Epsom salt.
• Coolers, thermos bottles, or other cold storage containers.
• Glass containers or soda bottles with remnants of dried chemicals.
If you find or suspect a Meth lab, notify local law enforcement immediately. Do not enter the area of the suspected lab.