In Oklahoma, the number of deaths related to meth overdose has continued to rise despite a fall in the number of methamphetamine labs being discovered across the state.

In 2013, 167 people died of meth-related overdoses and 421 labs were shut down by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (OBN). That compares with 140 deaths in the previous year and 830 lab busts.

Previously, the number of meth-related overdose deaths had been on the rise for years with an accompanying rise in the numbers of labs discovered. That is, until 2012 when something changed.

meth trapped

Meth Deaths Quadrupled

As noted, the number of labs busted has dropped sharply while the number of deaths continued to rise. In fact, by 2013, deaths related to meth abuse more than quadrupled since 2008 when only 40 people died.

This suggests users must be getting the drug from somewhere other than local labs. Sure enough, one major line of supply is crystal meth from Mexico, where what users consider to be a superior product is produced in bulk in large-scale facilities.

The effective job of wiping out domestic meth production created a void that is now being filled by the Mexican cartels. As home-cooking of the drug became increasingly problematic and risky, the number of home labs declined as people turned to Mexico for a safer line of supply.

Mark Woodward, spokesman for the OBN explained: “Meth users who used to cook their own meth are saying, ‘Why risk getting caught at a pharmacy, leaving a paper trail or blowing up a house when I’ve got a connection with a guy who’s bringing 10 pounds into Oklahoma City or Tulsa out of Dallas — Mexican ice that will be here in two days?’”

There may be another factor in this increase of meth-related deaths: a new method of producing methamphetamine without the need for fancy lab equipment and requiring only relatively small quantities of the key ingredient, pseudoephedrine.

Meth Shake ‘n Bake

Nicknamed “Shake ‘n Bake,” the new meth production method requires no heat. All that is required is a two-liter soda bottle, a small amount of crushed cold tablets that contain pseudoephedrine and some household chemicals. These are all carefully shaken to produce a chemical reaction. When the reaction settles, crystals of methamphetamine will form in the bottle, providing a meth user with enough crystals to feed his own habit at least.

This method of producing meth is not without considerable risks. The user takes a chance on blowing himself up or poisoning himself but he nevertheless has a cheap supply without needing dealers. And the small amount of equipment required means a smaller risk of detection and arrest.

No matter what methods are used to produce one of the world’s most highly addictive and deadly drugs, one fact remains a constant: Something can be done about meth addiction.

A person who has fallen into the trap of dependency and addiction can be freed. No matter how hopeless the person’s situation may seem to be, there is yet a road back to a life free of drugs.

It is a road that has already been travelled by students of the Narconon program — our staff stand ready to welcome you or someone you care about to take your first steps on this path to a new, sober life.