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Meth or methamphetamine is a drug substance that comes in many forms. From pills or tablets to crystals and powder, no matter what form it comes in, meth is highly addictive.

Overview

Methamphetamine, often known as meth, is a potent stimulant well-known for its capacity to boost dopamine levels, raise energy levels, and quickly impact methamphetamine addiction.

The average person experiences the effects of crystal meth for 6 to 12 hours, which is a far longer “high” than other stimulants like cocaine.[1] Some favor Meth due to its more enduring effects. The effects of intense emotions of alertness and concentration, quick weight reduction, and an increase in libido are some of the effects of meth, making it an attractive drug to the user. 

It is believed that about 25 million people took methamphetamine and amphetamine in the past year. This makes amphetamine and methamphetamine the most extensively used illicit narcotics after cannabis, more so than heroin or cocaine[2]

Meth comes in two different forms: a crystalline powder and glass-like rocks that are known as crystal meth

What Does Meth Look Like?

Meth can have various odors, tastes, and aromas, making it challenging to identify. It might vary from one batch to the next and from one producer to the next.

Methamphetamine comes in a wide range of sizes and forms, each with a unique appearance. The majority of the time, people seek crystal meth in the form of crystalline rocks or shards of shattered glass that may be clear, white, gray, or blue-white.

Crystal and glass are names for the drug’s shard- and glass-like appearance. Usually, when people think about meth, they imagine something like this. Additionally, it is the variety of meth that people with substance use disorders misuse the most.

Meth is also available as a powder, tablet, or pill. However, tablets and pills are much less common. 

How to Identify Meth

Many forms of meth exist. You can find it in powder form, crystal, liquid, and pills. Meth can have various tastes, smells, and scents, making identification difficult. In addition, it could differ from one batch to the next and from one maker to the next.

Meth Pills and Tablets

You will often find methamphetamine in tablet or pill form made of crystalline powder or powdered meth. Meth pills have a tiny, rounded shape and come in various colors. The pills are sometimes tinted to resemble candy or another less dangerous material.

Meth Rocks

Methamphetamine in the form of meth crystals is another popular kind. This type of meth’s color is typically white with a bluish tint, though it can also be transparent.

Meth rocks may also resemble shards of glass or rock-like. 

Liquid Meth 

A lesser-known form of methamphetamine is liquid meth. This type of meth is a translucent liquid that can appear yellow or brownish. Most frequently, liquid meth is ingested and subsequently absorbed into the blood.

How to Identify a Meth Lab

While Hollywood and Breaking Bad may have left you with the impression that giant labs and labs in RVs are commonplace, that’s usually not the case. 

The location of a meth lab does vary from place to place. They can be centered in homes, commercial properties, hotels, and outdoor places. 

There are signs to look out for when identifying a meth lab. A few of them include the following.[3]

  • Large quantities of empty cold medicine packages
  • A powerful chemical-ly smell like paint thinner, fuel, or that of a hospital
  • A variety of glass containers and equipment that may feature holes and duct tape
  • Empty plastic bottles
  • Funnels
  • Face masks
  • Rubber gloves
  • Coffee filters and strainers
  • Storage container
  • White, powdery residue on counters and other items

Common ingredients in meth found in one convenient place might indicate a meth lab. You might find boxes of cold medicine like Sudafed, acetone (a nail polish remover), lithium from batteries, and other ingredients like red phosphorus, sulfuric acid, or sodium hydroxide. 

How to Identify Meth Paraphernalia 

Meth can be injected, snorted, smoked, and taken in pill form. With this number of consumption options, the number of potential paraphernalia items increases exponentially. 

It might be difficult to distinguish meth paraphernalia because many of these goods have other helpful uses or may be daily-use items. Depending on the intake technique, there are several meth paraphernalia objects you might need to look for if you think a loved one is struggling with meth addiction.

Some common meth paraphernalia items are:

  • Spoons with burn marks
  • Lose razor blades used for cutting lines to snort
  • Mirrors or other reflective objects with white residue
  • Straws, or rolled-up bills or paper
  • Unused or used syringes
  • Extra shoelaces, an elastic lanyard, or a hairband used to enlarge the veins before injecting
  • Glass pipes with burn marks
  • Light bulbs with yellow waxy residue and burn marks
  • Home-made pipes made from aluminum cans
  • Small baggies with residue left over

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How to Identify Meth Use

Meth is a highly addictive substance. Addiction to the stimulant can be easy to identify due to its rapid changes to one’s appearance, especially the face. Even though meth addiction might emerge physically, other serious consequences to the body go unseen.

Meth addiction‘s most noticeable symptoms include the following:

  • Weight loss
  • violent conduct
  • Mood changes
  • Skin ulcers
  • Tooth decay and meth mouth
  • Symptoms of psychosis
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Irregular body temperature
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Skin picking
  • Psychosis
  • Tweaking

Someone struggling with meth addiction will undergo different modifications due to continued drug use. It’s crucial to seek assistance immediately if you or someone you know is displaying any or all of these changes to protect them, those around them, and their future. 

Frequently Asked Questions on Meth Identification

Below are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about meth identification.

Does Meth Smell?

Smoked meth typically has a softer, more delicate, almost sweet smell. When created in the lab, meth smells clinical, like a hospital, paint thinner, ammonia-like, or chemical. 

Why is it Called “Crystal Meth”?

Crystal meth is short for crystal methamphetamine. It is merely one type of methamphetamine that looks much like rocks or shards of glass. This is what most people think of when referring to meth.

What are the Street Names for Meth?

Meth has various street names created over the years. What you hear depends on your region. A few popular street names are Crank, ice, glass, crystal,  speed, gak, cookies, Christina, and tweak.

Is Meth Used to Cut Other Drugs?

Meth is a known drug used to cut other drugs that are similar in nature. It may cut cocaine, ecstasy, and other stimulant drugs.

What is the Difference Between Amphetamines and Methamphetamines?

Methamphetamine and amphetamines both act as stimulants. They communicate with your central nervous system to accelerate the transmission of information from your brain to the rest of your body. Methamphetamine and amphetamines differ significantly in a few important ways.

Taking amphetamines for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) under a doctor’s prescription is an acceptable and safest use. Street methamphetamine is stronger than amphetamines, and they cause more serious and long-lasting injury to your central nervous system.

Can You Get Addicted to Meth?

Meth is an extremely addicting drug. It can hook a user within just one-time methamphetamine use. Even people with seemingly normal lives can fall victim to the peril of substance abuse disorder. If you or someone you know has become hooked on meth, seek addiction treatment immediately. 

What is the Treatment for Methamphetamine Addiction?

Treatment options include therapeutic interventions, a thorough detox process, and attending a rehab facility, inpatient or outpatient. Outpatient therapy primarily allows you to carry on with your routine while preparing you for life without meth. 

However, there are situations when individuals are hurried into an inpatient meth treatment program due to an intervention or another emergency. Depending on your level of physical dependency, your recovery may begin with a brief hospital stay while you go through detox.

Ascendant NY: You Don’t Have to Live With a Meth Addiction

You don’t have to go through this fight alone or worry about your loved ones. We are aware that individuals with substance use disorder have an impact on both themselves and their loved ones

At Ascendant, we support and tenderly direct you on your path to recovery. If you or someone you know is dealing with a meth addiction, get in touch with us right now to discuss your treatment options at our recovery center.

Sources:

  1. Signs of a meth lab. NCSBI. (n.d.). Retrieved December 29, 2022, from https://www.ncsbi.gov/Divisions/Special-Services-Unit/Clandestine-Labs/Signs-of-A-Meth-Lab
  2. Drug fact sheet: Methamphetamine – dea.gov. (n.d.). Retrieved December 30, 2022, from https://admin.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Methamphetamine-2020_0.pdf
  3. Buxton, J. A., & Dove, N. A. (2008, June 3). The burden and management of Crystal Meth Use. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l’Association medicale canadienne. Retrieved December 30, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2396355/

Medical Content Writer

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magnum Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. As a person in recovery from disordered eating, she is passionate about seeing people heal and transform. She writes for popular treatment centers such as Ocean Recovery, Epiphany Wellness, The Heights Treatment, Infinite Recovery, New Waters Recovery and adolescent mental health treatment center BasePoint Academy. In her spare time she loves learning about health, nutrition, meditation, spiritual practices, and enjoys being the a mother of a beautiful daughter.

Last medically reviewed January 8, 2023