Hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps even millions, use and abuse methamphetamine, or "meth." It's a multi-billion dollar industry for some, while for others, the rush or "high" turns out to be life-shattering, and sometimes fatal.
Supplier or user, no matter which end of the deal someone is on, making, selling or possessing meth, or even its ingredients, can mean years in jail, thousands of dollars in fines and other legal penalties.
Meth goes by many names: Speed, ice, crystal and chalk are just a few. It's a white, odorless, bitter-tasting powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol. It can be swallowed, snorted into the nose, smoked or injected into the blood stream using a needle.
Why It's Popular & Addictive
Meth causes high levels of dopamine, a chemical naturally in the human the body, to collect and stay in the brain. The almost-instant release and build-up of the chemical causes the rush or "high."
Over time, the body builds a tolerance for the chemical, so someone needs to use more and more meth to feel the rush.
Where Does It Come From?
Methamphetamine may be prescribed by a doctor to treat conditions such as attention deficit disorders and obesity. However, prescriptions aren't the typical sources for abuse.
For the most part, meth is made in meth labs, which may be large, taking up whole buildings, or small enough to be run out of a basement or an apartment. Many meth labs can be found in homes that were foreclosed on as well as more run-down areas.
By mid-2011, law enforcement officials across the US closed down over 3,000 meth labs.
Meth's High Profit
Meth labs run day and night because of the high demand for the drug and the huge profits to be made on selling it. It's alarmingly easy to make - all you need is a recipe, which isn't hard to find, and about $100 in chemicals and supplies (called "precursor substances") such as:
- Ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, chemicals found in many cold and asthma medications
- Drain cleaner
- Battery acid
A small amount of meth (a quarter gram) may sell for $20 or more; three and a half grams may cost $200 or more. With one "batch," the person making meth can make thousands of dollars.
Using meth, even just occasionally and in small doses, can cause loss of sleep and appetite and increases in blood pressure and heart rate. Long-time use can cause extreme weight loss, massive tooth decay, insomnia, hallucinations and violent behavior.
Also, the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases is a concern when needles are used and shared to take the drug, or when sexual favors are exchanged instead of paying for the drug.
Continue to find out the legal consequences of making and taking Meth.
Questions for Your Attorney
- Can I report a suspected meth lab in my neighborhood anonymously?
- What if I suspect a co-worker of taking meth during working hours? Should I report him?
- I have prescription for methamphetamine from my doctor. Can my pharmacist refuse to fill it if he thinks I’m abusing the drug?