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What Is Methamphetamine?

Meth is a dangerous schedule II stimulant drug. Methamphetamine use in the U.S. is a big problem in many areas. Meth is made in makeshift labs. It can be very harmful to physical and mental health. Addiction treatment can help address meth addiction.

Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug similar to the drug amphetamine. Also known as “meth”, or “crystal meth”, this drug is made in labs through a complex process.

Meth usually looks like a white, crystalline powder that has no smell. It is usually taken by smoking it, producing a euphoric high that also has many negative side effects.

Meth has a high potential for abuse, meaning it is extremely addictive. People often use the drug once or twice, and like the feeling so much that they keep using it, leading to a meth addiction.

The History Of Meth

Amphetamine, the parent drug of meth, was first made in Germany in 1887. Methamphetamine, which is more potent, longer-lasting, and easier to make, was first made in Japan in 1919.

Meth became popular during World War II, when it was used to keep soldiers awake. Abuse of meth in Japan was an epidemic after the war.

Meth was actually legal in the U.S. many years ago. It was used as a diet aid and antidepressant in the 1950s. In the 1970s, it was made illegal by the government for most uses.

Since it was made illegal, meth has been produced in Mexican laboratories and makeshift “labs” across the world.

Certain areas of the U.S. have been especially hard-hit by meth addiction, especially many rural areas.

How Methamphetamine Is Made

Most of the meth made today is made in illegal laboratories, though there is still a legal form of methamphetamine that is produced for medical purposes.

Meth Made In Clandestine Laboratories

Most of the meth that hits the streets is made in secret, illegal laboratories. Some of these meth labs are large facilities mostly found in Mexico. Others are makeshift operations found in kitchens and houses.

Meth is made through a process of combining chemicals and using heat at different stages.

Some commonly found ingredients like pseudoephedrine, an ingredient in many over-the-counter cold medicines, is used in the process of making illegal meth.

Legal Meth (Desoxyn)

Meth is a Schedule II drug, meaning it is actually legal to use for medical purposes with a non-refillable prescription.

Desoxyn is the brand name for methamphetamine hydrochloride, a drug that is rarely prescribed but can sometimes help in treating obesity and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Because of its addictive qualities, alternatives are usually used before Desoxyn.

What Ingredients Are Found In Meth?

The ingredients used in the process of making methamphetamine usually fall into three categories: solvents, metals and salts, and strong acids or bases.

There are many different ways to produce meth, but they all involve chemicals in each of these three groups.

Some ingredients that are known to be used in the production of meth have been given extra restrictions in recent years, making them harder to obtain.


Crystal meth is produced by ‘washing’ methamphetamine in a solvent, usually acetone or denatured alcohol.

Once the liquid evaporates from this mixture, crystals form, hence the name.

Other solvents found in meth may include:

  • benzene
  • benzyl chloride
  • chloroform
  • ethanol
  • ethyl ether
  • freon
  • hexane
  • isopropanol
  • methanol
  • petroleum ether
  • pyridine

Metals And Salts

Metals and salt compounds are also used in meth production. These include aluminum, iodine and lead acetate, and red phosphorus, sodium acetate, and magnesium, among others.

Strong Acids And Bases

Acidic substances and bases are common components used to make meth as well. Some of these include acetic acid, ammonia, and perchloric acid.

Most of these substances aren’t intended for human consumption, and some can have harmful to dangerous effects.

What Is Meth Called On The Street?

Meth has many different street names. These can be helpful to know if you are concerned that a loved one has been using meth and you want to know what to listen for.

Street names for meth include:

  • speed
  • crank
  • ice
  • trash
  • chalk
  • wash
  • cookies
  • pookie
  • crystal
  • scooby snacks

What Does Meth Do?

Abusing meth is extremely dangerous. Meth use has many short- and long-term health effects.

Meth affects the central nervous system to produce stimulant effects, but its use also causes a lot of health problems.

Side effects of meth drug use include:

  • loss of appetite
  • skin picking and associated scabs and sores
  • dry mouth
  • increased body temperature
  • increased blood pressure
  • fast heart rate or irregular heartbeat
  • “meth mouth”: rapid tooth decay common in meth users
  • paranoia
  • violent behavior
  • weight loss
  • brain damage and psychosis
  • organ failure
  • increased risk of hepatitis and other infectious diseases (from sharing needles)
  • heart problems and potential stroke or heart attack

Treatment Programs For Methamphetamine Addiction

Long-term use of crystal methamphetamine can have devastating consequences. Substance abuse of this dangerous drug requires treatment at a certified treatment center.

Treatment programs for meth abuse usually start with inpatient detox, where withdrawal symptoms can be managed and monitored in a safe and comfortable healthcare environment.

Next, inpatient care can help a person to get back on their feet and remember how to live a sober life.

Finally, a person can transition to outpatient care, which means they return to daily life while still receiving treatment.

Find Meth Abuse Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

Bedrock Recovery Center is a state-of-the-art substance use treatment center located in Canton, MA.

We know that the effects of methamphetamine abuse can be devastating, and we offer treatment plans that aim to address the root causes of addiction and work toward long-term recovery.

Call our helpline today if you are ready to put drug addiction behind you.

Written by
Bedrock Recovery Editorial Team

©2023 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

This page does not provide medical advice.

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