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Highly addictive and often full of unknown, toxic chemicals, illicit meth use endangers entire communities. Home labs endanger children and neighbors by filling the air with toxic chemicals and destroy property values by contaminating the surroundings. When taken long-term, meth produces debilitating psychological symptoms, such as hallucinations, and drastically reduces a person’s ability to feel pleasure.[1]

Originally methamphetamine was developed for use in bronchial inhalers and nasal decongestants. The drug is related to amphetamine, but it lasts longer and is more dangerous to the central nervous system (CNS).[2] It is still available in the United States through a prescription (Desoxyn), but physicians rarely prescribe it.The latest statistics show 897,000 Americans report current meth use, including 13,000 young people age 12 to 17 and 128,000 young adults age 18 to 25.[3]

In appearance, meth is a white crystalline power that is odorless and bitter tasting and easily dissolves in liquids. It is made from toxic and volatile substances melded together to form a dangerous conglomeration of chemicals.

Where Meth Comes From

People produce meth almost anywhere. Homes, apartments and trailers turn into secret labs for meth production.

Also, the technical knowledge needed to produce it is found on the Internet, and because of this, meth production is hard to control. Beyond its effect on users, meth impacts entire communities due to toxins released during production. Every pound of meth produces five to six pounds of hazardous waste, which is often disposed of secretly and dumped into area water sources or sewer systems. Production also contaminates homes and exposes people living in a residence, particularly children, to toxins that damage brains. Highly flammable chemicals are used in meth production, so explosions and house fires are common.1

In the U.S., federal, state and local governments seek to limit illicit meth production by controlling the chemicals used in underground labs. Laws limit ingredients in cold medications, for example, by requiring people to sign names in logs when buying the medication. Meth producers use several chemicals to make meth, including pseudoephedrine (a part of over-the-counter cold medicines), anhydrous ammonia (used for agricultural fertilizer; industrial refrigerant), and red phosphorus (used in matches). Surges in meth use over the past decade suggest manufacturers find ways around restrictions by stealing chemicals or sending multiple people out to buy cold medicines. And, the number of meth labs is growing; incidents involving meth labs rose from 6,095 in 2007 to 11,239 in 2010.[4]

The U.S. government also works with other countries to regulate meth-related chemicals, particularly in countries where production is high – China, India and Germany.Mexico also changed its laws to further regulate chemicals in cold medicines. Even so, illicit meth production still occurs and the drug is full of unknown chemicals.It’s impossible to know what’s in a dose of meth, making it even more dangerous than a pure form of the drug.4

Risks Associated with Meth Use

Meth creates a high by releasing a surge of dopamine in the brain. The drug quickly produces tolerance, meaning a user must take more and more meth to achieve the same feeling. Over time, meth users lose the ability to feel pleasure or happiness because of damage to dopamine receptors in the brain. The drug also destroys body tissue and blood vessels and brings on severe psychological symptoms, including paranoia, aggression and hallucinations. Over time, meth users who quit regain the ability to feel pleasure, but may not regain losses to cognition, such as problems with memory, judgment and motor coordination.[5]

A possible overdose is another outcome of meth use. Because people have varying metabolic rates and it’s produced in different strengths, it’s impossible to determine a safe level of meth that won’t harm the body. Additionally, meth stimulants work by affecting the body’s cardiovascular systems, so actions like physical exertion increase the hazards of taking meth because they strain the body.

Some symptoms of meth overdose include:

  • Sudden, dangerous increase in blood pressure
  • Dangerous rise in temperature
  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Convulsions
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Coma
  • Seeing of spots

Someone addicted to meth also experiences withdrawal symptoms when she stops using. Meth withdrawal symptoms depend on the amount of the drug taken and how often it’s used. Possible symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Long periods of sleep
  • Intense hunger
  • Depression
  • Psychotic episodes
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability

When a person needs treatment for meth use, it’s best to wait until entering the treatment to stop use. This ensures a person receives medical supervision while experiencing any withdrawal symptoms.5


The Canyon’s integrated addiction treatment plans address all aspects of a patient’s physical, emotional and mental needs; staff and therapists give patients the best care available. Through a variety of traditional and holistic therapies, patients have the opportunity to reclaim personal dreams and goals and awaken an authentic relationship with life.

At The Canyon, your success is our priority, and we’ll do everything we can to help you break the cycle of addiction and go on to lead a healthy, normal life.


[1] Vermont Department of Public Health. (2005). Community Impact from Methamphetamine. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2016 from

[2] National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2013). What is methamphetamine? Methamphetamine. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2016 from

[3] Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2016). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2016 from

[4] White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. (2016). Controlling Precursor Chemicals. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2016 from

[5] WGBH Educational Foundation. (2006). How Meth Destroys the Body. Frontline. Retrieved Nov. 6, 2016 from