What Does Meth Look Like

What Does Meth Look Like

Identifying the Signs of Methamphetamine Use

Methamphetamine, or meth, is one of America’s most notorious addictive substances. Use and manufacture of the drug are depicted in TV shows and movies with some regularity. These portrayals sometimes take a romantic or glamorous form. However, there is nothing glamorous about meth use. Anyone who consumes the drug can suffer a variety of serious health harms. Those harms include addiction and overdose. They also include other kinds of potentially lasting damage to your mental and physical functions.

Concerned that someone you know is using meth? Awareness of what the drug looks like can help you spot a potential problem. Knowledge of meth’s characteristic odors can also be important. The same holds true for the settings in which manufacture and use of the drug often occur. If you notice any signs of meth consumption, it might be time seek help for your affected friend or loved one.

What Is Meth?

What is meth? In other words, how is meth categorized and classified by scientists and doctors? Methamphetamine belongs to the amphetamine family of substances. Like all amphetamines, meth is a stimulant. This means that it speeds up the usual rate of activity in nerve cells in your:

  • Brain
  • Spinal cord

Together, these two structures form your central nervous system. Meth also speeds up the activity rate in your sympathetic nervous system. This system triggers involuntary activation of your “fight-or-flight” response. Things affected by that response include your:

  • Heart rate
  • Core body temperature
  • Blood pressure
  • Digestive system
  • Level of sweat production

The vast majority of the meth distributed and sold in America is made illegally. A small percentage of the drug is sold legally as the medication Desoxyn. Today, most meth comes from Mexico. Hidden or clandestine labs also operate in various parts of the U.S.

What Does Meth Look Like

Not all methamphetamine looks the same. Instead, there are three common forms of meth: powder, base and crystal. Meth powder, sometimes referred to as speed, typically has a whitish or off-white color. It can be compacted under pressure to form pills.

Methamphetamine base is a brown, yellow or white substance with an oily or damp texture. Even excluding differences in color, batches of this substance are not uniform in appearance. Instead, base may look waxy or paste-like. Crystal gets its name from its crystalline or rock-like appearance. This form of meth is often translucent, which means that light passes through out. Crystal meth may also have a more solid, whitish color.

What Does Meth Smell Like When Smoked

What Does Meth Smell Like When Smoked

Meth powder and base are not typically smoked. However, users can smoke the crystal version of the drug. What does meth smell like when it’s smoked? There is no single answer to this question. Why not? Meth labs can use a variety of chemicals to manufacture the drug. In turn, these chemicals have an impact on how it smells when burned.

Meth smoke can have a non-specific chemical-like odor. It may also smell more specifically like household cleaning products. In addition, meth smoke can have an odor similar to burning or burnt plastic. No matter the particular odor you smell, one thing is certain. Burning meth has a strong scent that will likely stand out and grab your attention.

What Does Meth Taste Like

Meth can also vary substantially in its taste. Some users of the drug describe its powder or pill form as tasting bitter. All forms of meth may also taste like the chemicals used to make them. In addition, flavoring agents are sometimes added to the drug. These agents help reduce the unpleasant taste of methamphetamine. They may also be used to help the drug seem more generally appealing.

What Does Meth Paraphernalia Look Like

When it comes to drugs, paraphernalia is a term with multiple meanings. It can refer to the equipment involved in the manufacture of illegal substances. It can also refer to anything used to hide illegal substances or consume them.

What does meth paraphernalia look like? Perhaps the most well-known item is a metal or glass pipe used to smoke the crystal form of the drug. You may also notice glass bongs that serve the same purpose.

A wide range of paraphernalia are associated with making meth in clandestine labs. Common examples include:

  • Respirator masks
  • Rubber gloves
  • Various kinds of glassware
  • Hoses made from rubber or plastic
  • Lithium batteries

 

A wide assortment of chemicals are also used to make illegal meth. The list of these chemicals includes things such as:

  • Hydrochloric, muriatic or sulfuric acid
  • Camping fuel
  • Pseudoephedrine- or ephedrine-based cold tablets or capsules
  • Anhydrous ammonia
  • Lithium extracted from batteries
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Lye
  • Ether

All of these substances have a legal, legitimate use. It is only their use in meth manufacture that makes them illegal.

How to Recognize the Signs of Meth Cooking

How to Recognize the Signs of Meth Cooking

Clandestine meth labs are makeshift facilities designed to produce, or cook, illegal forms of the drug. These labs can be set up anyplace where there is room for them to fit. No matter where you live, you may find one on your street or in your neighborhood or area.

What are the signs of a meth cooking operation? Depending on your situation, you may notice any number of things. One potential telltale sign is a smell in the air that resembles rotten eggs, cat urine or ammonia. You may also notice a house or shed with covered or blacked out windows. Yard or vegetation damage caused by the burning or dumping of chemicals is another possible indicator.

Many meth labs are protected by multiple layers of security. Measures in place may include “No Trespassing” signs and strategically located outdoor cameras or monitors. In addition, they may include high fences and/or guard dogs.

Certain kinds of trash can also point to the presence of a meth cooking operation. Items you may spot include:

  • Large numbers of cold tablet packages
  • Coffee filters that are stained or coated in a powdery substance
  • Broken-down lithium batteries
  • Piles of empty chemical containers
  • Plastic bottles with holes punched into them
  • Used rubber gloves
  • Discarded pieces of hose or plastic

 

Tweaking and Other Meth Warning Signs

Even without smelling anything or seeing actual meth, you may be able to tell if someone is using the drug. One classic sign is “tweaking.” This term refers to a grouping of symptoms that can occur after a period of heavy meth use. Such symptoms may include:

  • Temporary loss of the ability to experience meth’s typical drug effects
  • Extreme agitation
  • Paranoia
  • Insomnia
  • A powerful urge to use more meth
  • Violent outbursts
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusional thinking

 

The signs of tweaking overlap in many ways with the effects of meth withdrawal. Other potential signs that someone you know is withdrawing from the drug include:

  • A depressed, irritable or anxious mental state
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lack of physical energy
  • Unusual slowing down or speeding up of their physical or mental reflexes

 

Withdrawal is just one sign that a person who uses meth has become addicted to the drug. Other indicators of addiction include:

  • Losing control over how much meth they use, or how often they use it
  • Having a routine that revolves around obtaining meth, using it and recovering from
  • Turning down other activities in favor of using meth
  • Not halting a pattern of meth use that clearly causes them significant harm
  • Developing a rising tolerance to meth’s stimulant effects

How to Help a Loved One Using Meth

How to Help a Loved One Using Meth

The best thing you can do for a loved one using meth is encourage them to enter a treatment program. This is not always easy to do. Many people who regularly use the drug have undergone profound mental and emotional changes. These changes may leave them unable to think clearly or rationally. A long-term user of meth may also be paranoid, delusional or violent. In addition, like anyone else affected by addiction, they may be in denial about their condition.

Try to approach the topic of seeking treatment as gently as possible. It helps to plan this kind of conversation in advance. It also helps to seek the advice of addiction specialists or intervention counselors.

Forms of Effective Treatment for Meth Addiction

Effective treatment for meth addiction is psychotherapy-based. The treatments of choice are behavioral therapies. Therapies of this type help your loved one change behaviors that support ongoing addiction. One option, cognitive behavioral therapy, is specifically known to help people with meth-related problems. Other therapies used to treat stimulant addiction in general include:

  • Contingency management
  • 12-step facilitation therapy
  • The Matrix Model

 

Family therapy may also be used in the treatment of all forms of substance addiction.

Each form of therapy provides its own treatment benefits. The right combination of options can help your loved one do things such as:

  • Reduce their cravings for meth
  • Cope with stressful situations that may increase their cravings
  • Stay sober during and after treatment
  • Add a self-help group to their larger meth recovery plan

Learn More About Meth and Effective Addiction Treatment at Pathfinders

If you think someone you know is using meth, you may have a number of pressing questions. For example, what does meth look like? What does it smell like? How can you tell if some is cooking meth? What are the signs of meth addiction?

Get answers to these important questions at Pathfinders. With our help, you can detect the potential signs that your friend or family member is using meth. Pathfinders is also a premier provider of treatment for methamphetamine addiction. No matter the extent of your loved one’s addiction symptoms, we offer customized recovery options that suit their needs. To learn more about our comprehensive meth program, call us today.

How Long Does Meth Stay In Your System?

How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?

Does Meth Remain in Your System a Long Time?

One of the most commonly asked questions from individuals with substance use disorders is how long certain substances stay in your system. This question is often raised for a few different reasons.

Someone might be curious about the length of time meth stays in your system because they’re ready to detox. Other times, it might be because they were sober and slipped into relapse and have a drug test approaching they need to pass.

The best way to understand how long meth stays in your system and how it behaves is by really becoming educated on what meth is and how your body reacts to it. Let’s take a look at this incredibly complex drug and its role in the lives of individuals who abuse it.

What Is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine, or crystal meth, is a synthetic stimulant that has a reputation for its highly addictive properties. This drug interacts with the central nervous system, leading to an intense release of dopamine, serotonin, and chemicals in the brain that manifests certain feelings and emotions when we engage in certain behaviors.

Technically, there are legal formulations of methamphetamine, such as narcolepsy medication Desoxyn. However, as an illegal narcotic manufactured on the black market, meth is a Schedule II substance on the federal and most state levels.

Throughout the 90s, methamphetamine experienced a boom in certain regions of the United States, leading to challenges with clandestine labs created by users looking to produce the drug themselves. Many of these labs led to explosions because of the crude setup and dangerous substances used to manufacture low-quality meth.

This low-quality version of the drug, otherwise known as crank, is only a fraction of the purity seen with the current version that’s flooded American streets. Many people consider meth, crank, and speed to be the same substance. However, individuals with an ear to the streets consider this to be false, as each of these terms describes a completely different substance, respectively.

Crank

Crank refers to the crudely manufactured version of methamphetamine that’s formulated in backyard and basement labs in remote areas of the United States. The popularity of these labs decreased after DEA crackdowns led to arrests in large numbers.

Additionally, many of the ingredients required to produce this version of meth are on the FDA’s banned substances list or are heavily tracked in an effort to observe buyer behavior. Crank is also known as shake and bake, bathtub crank, biker crank, and easter bunny dope.

Meth

Meth is the name that’s commonly used to refer to the current versions of methamphetamine that are circulating on the black market. Other names for this highly potent, pure form of the drug are glass, ice, tina, clear, and go-fast.

Large quantities of this drug are produced in huge warehouses known as superlabs throughout parts of Mexico. Drug cartels are behind the formulation, creation, packaging, smuggling, and distribution of this drug and rule the market with an iron fist.

It’s not uncommon for seized batches of this drug to test at nearly 100% purity. What used to be a drug considered to be approaching extinction as far as use goes has returned with a vengeance. Currently, meth is the number two most consumed drug in the entire world. This ranking is a side effect of the silent explosion of use that went almost unnoticed because of the opiate epidemic.

Speed

Speed is a term used to describe the pill form of methamphetamine. In the 70s, methamphetamine pills became popular on the black market before cocaine and crystal meth took over. Despite their decreased popularity in America, these pills still exist and are more common in parts of Europe as well as Asia the Middle East.

Despite the different forms of methamphetamine, many of the short-term effects are similar across all variations.

Short-term Effects of Meth

Meth is an incredibly long-acting drug with varying effects felt at different stages of intoxication. Because of the duration of the high, users normally require small doses of the drug to achieve the desired effects.

Despite these lowered doses, the presence of particularly intense short-term effects still has the potential to affect users in a very powerful and highly addictive manner.

Normally users either smoke meth via glass pipe or inject it with an insulin syringe. When either of these methods is administered, the drug reaches the brain very quickly, with injection being the faster of the two.

The result is what’s known as a “rush” – the sudden onset of intense pleasure and excitement. Users may also orally ingest meth or snort it nasally, both of which produce a much longer high with an increased presence of physical energy.

When the drug is swallowed or snorted instead of smoked or injected, the sudden, intense rush is replaced by a constantly maintained spark of motivation lasting for up to 12 hours.

The overall period of intoxication and time the drug remains present in the blood are dictated by what’s known as the half-life. When your body metabolizes the drug faster, the high isn’t felt as long, and the duration in which traces are detectable by a drug test is shorter as well.

How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?

How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?

Despite the fact that they’re both stimulants, meth, and cocaine exit the body at different rates. Cocaine is quickly removed and nearly completely metabolized in the body, while meth remains unchanged and hangs around much longer. This is what leads to the extended period of intoxication.

Normally the window of intoxication is anywhere between 10 and 24 hours. The overall period is heavily dependent on how much is ingested and at what time of day, how it’s administered, the body’s chemistry, and the function of the liver and kidneys.

Understanding these things about the elimination of methamphetamine from the body leaves the final question of the actual half-life of meth.

The Half-life of Methamphetamine

Understanding the half-life of meth is critical if you’re in the company of someone that suffers from meth abuse disorder. Being aware of this important number allows you to gauge when the individual can expect to experience the initial stages of withdrawal.

Normally, the half-life of methamphetamines in the bloodstream is somewhere between four and six hours. However, this doesn’t mean that all traces of meth are eliminated after this period.

It takes the course of about five half-lives for a substance to completely exit the body. After applying the appropriate math, it’s safe to assume that meth takes about 25 hours to fully vacate the bloodstream.

It’s important to keep in mind that the chemical breakdown products of meth can still be detected in other body systems, including urine, hair, and other sources. The following section highlights each different type of detection and how long they’re effective at tracing meth.

Detecting Meth in Drug Tests

Even when meth is eliminated from the blood, the drug is still detectable in certain types of tests. The following list contains information about each specific testing model:

Urine Tests

Urine testing is normally the most common form of detection when it comes to substance abuse. These tests are conducted fairly quickly and aren’t intrusive. The individual produces a urine sample in a cup, and the contents are examined with a panelled testing component. Normally urine tests can detect the presence of meth for a period of one to five days.

Blood Tests

Remember, blood tests follow the same timeline as the half-life of meth. This means that the drug is only detectable in the blood for about 25 hours.

How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?

Saliva Tests

Drug tests that consist of saliva swabs are normally effective at detecting meth for up to two days after the last use. These tests require an absorbent material to swab the mouth or tongue.

Hair Tests

Hair tests can also be used to detect the presence of meth. All it takes is a half-inch sample of hair to detect the presence of meth for up to 90 days prior to the test.

Meth Testing Variables to Consider

The detection times of meth using these drug tests change from person to person. However, there are other factors that may influence the overall detection times.

These factors include the following:

  • The individual’s overall health in question has a strong influence on how fast the drug exits the body. If you have a clean bill of health, your liver probably functions at a high level, meaning toxins are eliminated much faster.
  • When someone uses meth in large quantities very frequently, the detection times will increase significantly. This may be the largest contributing factor to the length of time meth can be picked up by drug tests.

It’s important to remain aware that large quantities and frequent use cause meth to accumulate within a user’s body. This accumulation presents a significant increase in the chances of an overdose being experienced.

Because meth has such a long period of intoxication, when users repeatedly ingest the drug, the body doesn’t have time to recover from previous doses. This accumulation is incredibly dangerous and has the potential to cause stroke, heart attack, and other negative heart-related consequences.

Additionally, large accumulations of meth also increase the chances of experiencing a negative mental health event as a result of meth intoxication. Meth-induced psychosis is common, and can produce potentially dangerous side effects.

This is why it’s critical that users have a strategy for eliminating meth from the system before attempting recovery. Once the drug is completely expelled from the body, individuals can move forward with recovery without the constant fear of meth-induced psychosis and other challenges.

Getting Meth Out of Your System

How do you get methamphetamines out of your system? The only way meth efficiently leaves the body is through the liver. The liver must process this substance, and there’s no other way to eliminate it from your system once it’s been ingested.

Avoiding subsequent doses will help you avoid larger amounts of the drug from building inside of your body. This gives your liver a chance to process the drug and effectively eliminate it from all of your body systems.

Seeking Treatment

If your goal is eliminating meth from your body, the most logical course of action is to enter a medically-assisted detox program. These programs allow you to safely go through the detoxification process under the direct supervision of medical and mental health professionals. This supervision gives the client significant advantages in terms of successfully completing the detox process.

The most severe side-effects of withdrawal may be avoided by taking advantage of medication options provided by a physician. Additionally, being monitored by professionals decreases your chances of experiencing a more severe medical event because of things like increased heart rate, high blood pressure, and anxiety, which can all be side effects of detox.

When Meth is Completely Eliminated from the Body, The Road to Recovery

The post-detox period is defined as the time immediately following the drug being expelled from the body. Individuals may deal with the most significant mental challenges associated with recovery during this period.

The mind and body must acclimate to the absence of meth, and this transition can present significant challenges. It’s during this period that clients may become uncomfortable and mentally exhausted.

This struggle may lead to an increased risk for relapse and participating in an inpatient treatment program can help clients safely navigate these rough patches. It’s critical that clients receive education and guidance in the form of mental health counseling and various types of therapy to help them manage their emotions and behaviors.

Learning how to properly manage your emotions and behaviors is one of the largest elements of recovery, as you experience life with a “sober mind.”

Pathfinders Recovery Centers specializes in assisting clients with managing this journey back into normal life and environment. Our compassionate staff is well-trained in providing various levels of care and promoting recovery and mental wellness.

If you’re ready to start your journey to recovery and reclaim your life, we encourage you to contact a member of our Admissions department to learn more about our treatment options.

What is Meth Mouth?

What is Meth Mouth

Meth Mouth

Many people are surprised to find that bad breath is a common consequence of drug abuse. We talk extensively about the physical and mental health impairments related to drug abuse. But these are not the only impairments that we have to worry about. 

Oral problems, including bad breath, are particularly common among meth users. Users call this meth mouth. Meth mouth is characterized by damage in and around the mouth, to the teeth and gums, and the lips. 

What Causes Meth Mouth?

What Causes Meth Mouth

Meth mouth occurs for several different reasons. Neglected oral hygiene is one of the most common. Drugs as powerful as meth can make you forgetful, sleepy, and distracted. It is unlikely that someone on meth will remember to properly take care of themselves. 

In addition to a poor diet and a lack of exercise and proper hydration, the oral hygiene habits of drug users often suffer. It is easy to forget to regularly floss and brush your teeth when you are under the influence of an overwhelming substance. 

Meth also causes dry mouth, a significant contributor to developing cavities and eroding gums. It is acidic, which damages the teeth more directly. And it can make you crave sugar and grind or clench your teeth.

These are the primary drivers of meth mouth: poor oral hygiene, dry mouth, acidic erosion, sugar cravings, grinding and clenching your teeth. The symptoms of meth mouth can be a source of insecurity, discomfort, or even pain. 

Meth and Bad Breath

Bad breath in meth users is caused by dry mouth and poor oral hygiene. But bad breath is only the start of meth mouth. What’s more concerning are the side effects that come next. These side effects can be mild to severe, depending on the level of use and other individual factors. 

They can also occur both inside and outside of the mouth. Damage to the lips, tongue, cheeks, and gums is common. It is not just your breath or your teeth that suffer when you use meth. There is no safe way to use meth. Using meth will always put your oral, mental, and physical health at risk. 

Other Symptoms of Meth Mouth

Dry or cracked lips, damaged gums, tooth decay, cavities, and missing teeth are all common among meth users. In one study, medical professionals examined the mouths of 571 meth users. They found that nearly everyone in the study had poor oral health. 

Among them, the three most common oral health impairments were cavities (present in 96% of participants), untreated tooth decay (58%), and at least six missing teeth (31%). Meth mouth is often one of the most apparent physical changes that occur when a person uses meth. 

Dentists often characterize meth mouth by the presence of severe tooth decay and gum disease. This combination often causes teeth to break, blacken, rot, crumble, or fall out. Lesions are also typical among meth users. 

These side effects are often apparent from the outside. Meth users often experience alterations to their facial features, as well as skin damage. The sunken look that accompanies meth use is one of the most obvious signs of trouble. 

How Common is Meth Use?

Methamphetamine is a Schedule II drug. This means that it is too dangerous for medical use and has a high potential for abuse and severe dependence. But this classification has done little to curb meth use over the years. 

In 2017, roughly 1.6 million people reported using meth in the past year. Most users tried meth after becoming addicted to prescription opioids. One study confirmed that this connection was present in 80% of participants. 

Other Side Effects of Meth Use

Learning about the effects of meth is an important step in keeping ourselves and each other safe. Meth mouth is a common and concerning condition among users. But there are other side effects that you should also be aware of. 

Aside from meth mouth, some of the most common side effects of meth use include: 

  • Weight loss 
  • Body tremors
  • Increased or irregular heartbeats 
  • Confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Hyperactivity 
  • Insomnia 
  • Anger
  • Anxiety 

These side effects can vary depending on many individual factors. The method of use, frequency, mental health, and medical history of the user are some of the most impactful. Some side effects are specific to certain methods of drug abuse. 

For example, injecting meth comes with the additional risks of collapsed veins, infections at the injection site, and HIV from shared needles. Snorting meth can damage the nasal cavity and sinuses, causing issues like loss of smell and painful nosebleeds. 

Over time, more troubling side effects become more likely. These include potentially fatal health problems, like central nervous system damage, seizures, strokes, heart attacks, and overdoses. But you do not have to live in constant fear of the impacts of your meth use. Help is available. 

How to Prevent Meth Mouth

Preventing meth mouth comes down to altering your habits. There is no foolproof way to prevent meth mouth while you continue to use meth. These oral health impairments will always be linked to meth use, and they will only get worse the longer the abuse goes on. 

If you have already stopped using meth and want to prevent further damage, there are a few changes you can make. Building a healthier oral hygiene routine, staying properly hydrated, eating nutritious meals, avoiding excessive amounts of sugar, and checking in with your dentist are all good ideas. 

Treatment for Meth Mouth

Treatment for meth mouth can help reverse or improve the damage done. But meth addiction treatments should come first. After all, there is no point in improving your oral health without improving your habits. 

Once you have stopped using meth and developed a healthier routine, your dentist can help you determine which treatments will make the biggest difference. Depending on the level of damage, it may be as simple as brushing with a certain toothpaste, using a prescription mouthwash, avoiding sugar, drinking more water, and eating healthier meals. 

But for long-term users or users ingesting high volumes of meth, there may be more damage than can be undone with such simple changes. Our medical staff can help you analyze your options and find the right dental care provider. They will guide you from there. 

Getting Help for Meth Addiction

Getting Help for Meth Addiction

Recognizing that you need help is the first step in addiction recovery. Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant. No one expects you to overcome it on your own. At Pathfinders, we understand how difficult it is to break the chains of addiction, and we are here to show you the way. 

At each step in your recovery journey, you will have access to the expert-level care, support, and guidance that you need. We will help you break down the barriers between this life and a healthy, happy, sober one. We will help you find a way to live that doesn’t involve meth or its many potential consequences. 

If you or someone you love needs help overcoming meth addiction, you have come to the right place. At Pathfinders Recovery Center, we believe in high-level, holistic, and personalized treatment programs. Call our addiction counselors at 866-576-4892 to get started building yours.