methIt has become commonplace for drugs to be laced with other, less valuable substances when sold.  Bulking agents such as baking soda, corn starch or sugar are often added to increase profits.  In many cases, drugs are cut several times, depending how many middlemen are involved. 

A recent trend, however, has authorities perturbed.  The club drug Ecstasy, popular at raves and parties, is now being laced with methamphetamine—sometimes showing up in quantities as high as 90 percent.

Creating a Market for Meth in Pittsburgh

The trend surfaced in January of this year, when a 14-man drug crew was indicted in Pittsburgh.  Their motives were simple: create a new market for meth, a drug that is so addictive it is rumored to have you hooked after one or two hits.

Targeting college-age partiers being wooed by Ecstasy, Neil Thomas, 29, and his drug ring allegedly sold drugs that tested at 90 percent purity as methamphetamine, with a mere 10 percent turning out to be Ecstasy.

Users wondered why they couldn’t sleep for days.

The investigation had been going on for a year and also revealed a crew bringing meth in from Cleveland, and one bringing heroin and marijuana in from New York City.  The drug’s birthplace, however, was Mexico.

Meth Vs. Ecstasy

While Ecstasy is no walk in the park, it pales in comparison to the potency of Meth.  Not only is methamphetamine synthesized more quickly than Ecstasy, it is more toxic to the nervous system.  In the case of Neil Thomas’ buyers, the fact that they were expecting Ecstasy makes it even more dangerous.

Methamphetamine is an extremely powerful central nervous system stimulant.  It works directly on the brain and spinal chord, interfering with the production of the pleasure-inducing chemicals in the body.  The drug causes a rush of euphoria, increased energy, and decreased appetite.  It is most notable for its ability to elongate periods of wakefulness.

The Unforeseen Dangers

Whether taken voluntarily or not, meth can have very dangerous side effects.  On an immediate basis, someone high on meth is often led by their visions of grandeur into impulsive risk-taking behavior like violence or sexual promiscuity.

The drug’s effects can last at least twelve hours or more, so insomnia is common.  This means that the body is being worked over in multiple ways—not only is it run-down from lack of sleep, it is now swimming in toxic chemicals.  These ingredients make for a hard come-down that usually includes depression and fatigue.  It is for this reason that users typically resort to using the drug again.  And in this way they are reeled in more rapidly than most drugs.

It can take a very, very long time to come down off meth.  Users often report a period of two to three years after using meth in which they felt unable to get pleasure from life.  Some never recover, usually due to permanent brain damage.

Other dangerous side effects include heart attack, stroke (often multiple times), premature aging, premature senility and death. 

The Dangerous Side Effect of Substitution

Substituting the contents of a drug with another substance may seem harmless, especially with something as innocuous as baking soda, but you would be surprised how many times this practice has caused overdose and death.

Imagine if your introduction to a drug involved a substance that was laced with 50 to 60 percent baking soda.  You might get a high, but you’d probably have to adjust by increasing your dose.

But what happens the next time, when you buy from a different dealer?  What if that batch is only cut with 10 percent?  What if it is completely pure?  You can imagine what happens next.