Methamphetamine Abuse

meth ice being smoked

Methamphetamine. Ice. Speed. Tina. Yaba. Crank.

Methamphetamine is a strong stimulant that can be ingested, smoked, snorted or injected. Prescription forms of the drug are used for narcolepsy and obesity. At one time, methamphetamine was also used in inhalers as a treatment for asthma. When abused, it increases alertness and wakefulness, energy and focus. It also causes euphoria, increases confidence and enhances sexual experiences. Methamphetamine abusers lose their appetites and may stay up for days on end before they crash. But besides being addictive, repeated or continuous methamphetamine use can cause heart damage, erosion and decay of the teeth and severe mental disorders. Methamphetamine addicts very often develop severe paranoia and psychosis that does not respond to usual treatments and can become unstable, irritable and aggressive, all due to the damaging effects of the drug.

Methamphetamine Played a Role in World War II

Meth was first synthesized in Japan in the early 20th century, following the earlier development of amphetamine in Germany. Meth was used on all sides of World War II: Japan fed it to kamikaze pilots, Americans gave it to soldiers to keep them awake and the Axis Forces developed particularly efficient ways of manufacturing methamphetamine that are still used today. In fact, one of the primary methods of cooking meth is called the “Nazi Method,” after the method used to produce the drug for Hitler’s army. Some officers thought that methamphetamine was a way to develop the superhuman soldiers they wanted for a win. The meth fed to German soldiers was called Pervitin. It’s believed that Hitler received injections of methamphetamine from his physician for the last three years of his life.

When the war ended for Japan, they had huge stockpiles of meth left over that they no longer needed for their pilots. They then began to distribute the unused drug to the Japanese public, creating an epidemic of methamphetamine addiction. The drug soon began to be restricted in country after country, with medical forms of the drug continuing to be sold under strict regulation. In the US, prescription methamphetamine is currently called Desoxyn.

Household and Farm Chemicals Plus Cold Medication are All That’s Needed for a Batch

household chemicals can be used for meth production

Ironically, this drug that is among the most addictive can be cooked up in your garage or back bedroom, if you don’t mind contaminating the premises with toxic chemicals. You just need to prowl around various hardware, grocery, farm or drug stores and pick up your ingredients. The list varies with which method of cooking you’re going to use, but here’s a common shopping list: Cold tablets, acetone from a home improvement store, rubbing alcohol, sulfuric acid from drain cleaner, red phosphorus from matches, anhydrous ammonia from a farm store, lithium from batteries, toluene from brake cleaner, muriatic acid from a swimming pool supply store, and a few other chemicals.

You either set up a cooking operation somewhere far enough from neighbors that they won’t mind the noxious odors or the blacked out windows, or you use the “Shake and Bake” method of cooking that requires much less equipment. The main container used to mix the chemicals and let the meth crystallize out is usually the two-liter soda bottle. Whether you use the stovetop method or the Shake and Bake method, both processes are prone to exploding without warning, maiming or killing anyone nearby.

All methods of cooking meth leave behind piles of toxic trash and chemicals. Thousands of houses around the US have been used for methamphetamine labs both with and without anyone knowing about it. The website lists horror stories of families trying to raise children in methamphetamine-contaminated homes. In some cases, the new buyers were told that the toxic chemicals were all cleaned up only to find that they had so saturated the walls and flooring that cleanup was impossible.

The US Begins to Control the Sales of Cold Medication, Cutting off Small Labs

cold medication

In 2004, some states began to restrict the over the counter sale of cold medication to try to cut off the small labs that were manufacturing small quantities of the drug for personal use and a little local dealing. One state after another restricted purchase to a few packages of pills per month, leading people to start “smurfing” (going from store to store to acquire enough cold medication for a production cycle) to supply those who still wanted to cook. Domestic methamphetamine lab busts began to drop dramatically as cold medication supplies got harder to come by.

Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) were happy to take up the slack. By 2007, Mexican DTOs had established superlabs in Mexico and in the Central Valley of California. Superlabs are capable of producing 10 to 100 pounds of the drug in each production cycle, as opposed to a few ounces for a home meth lab. Mexican traffickers added meth to the list of drugs they brought across the border and put on their national distribution channels.

Meth Production and Addiction Hits Asia Hard as Well

China is one of the largest manufacturers of precursor chemicals for methamphetamine. So naturally, Asia has developed some of the largest methamphetamine production facilities as well. The “Golden Triangle” of Asia, the border area between Burma, Laos, and Thailand, began to export millions of tablets of methamphetamine to China and India. The drugs traveled on to Taiwan, the Philippines, North Korea and Australia. Thailand soon began to experience its own epidemic of methamphetamine abuse and addiction. This epidemic appears to have peaked early in the new millennium, but high levels of production and consumption still occur in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. In 2006, a meth lab capable of producing a thousand pounds of the drug at a time was dismantled in Manila. A study in that country at that time found that 10 percent of the Philippine population had used methamphetamine, compared to 1 percent in the US.

In 2010, the United Nations reported that methamphetamine was the top drug of choice in East and Southeast Asia. But reports on how many users there are in the area vary widely, from three million to 20 million users. Internationally, the number of methamphetamine labs seized peaked in 2004 with 17,853 labs being put out business. By 2008, the number had fallen to 8,295.

Asian criminal organizations have even crossed the ocean to mingle with the large Asian communities in Canada and establish methamphetamine production facilities, shipping the product not only to the US but also to Japan and Australia. As long as manufacturing facilities exist in Mexico, Asia, Canada and the Central Valley of California, those who wish to abuse this damaging drug are going to have access to a supply.

If you know someone who has a problem with methamphetamine addiction, please call us immediately.

See Also:

Sign up free to receive our email newsletter: