How to Spot a Meth Lab
Crystal methamphetamine, which is also known as crystal meth or just meth, is a version of the drug methamphetamine, which is a crystalline drug that can be taken by snorting, smoking or injecting it.
When someone takes meth, it creates a euphoric rush, also known as a high. This feeling includes an intense sense of happiness, well-being, and confidence, as well as energy and sociability. When people take meth, it also diminishes their appetite.
Meth is an illegal drug that’s classified in the same way as cocaine because it’s a stimulant, and it’s often used as a club or party drug because of the energy and euphoria it creates, allowing people to dance or stay up for long periods of time.
Meth is incredibly dangerous and addictive, and many people say they become addicted to it after only trying it once. Meth is a synthetic drug made from chemicals, and it’s associated not just with the high people seek out, but also with very serious and frequently deadly mental and physical health problems.
Meth can lead to aggression and psychotic or delusional behaviors that can play a role in a person hurting themselves or someone else. It can also damage the heart and brain, along with almost every other part of a person’s body.
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One of the primary reasons meth is so dangerous is because of the ingredients it can include.
Most of the meth that’s illicitly purchased and used in the U.S. is made in domestic labs, whether large or small, and some is also made in Mexico. As part of the Combat Methamphetamine Act of 2005, Congress set requirements that retailers and pharmacies track the purchase of products frequently used to make the drug such as pseudoephedrine. There are also limits on how much of certain over-the-counter medicines people can purchase in one day as a result.
A lot of answering what does meth smell like relies on understanding how it’s made. It’s a process called cooking that leads to the creation of meth, and it begins with extracting ephedrine or pseudoephedrine from cold or diet medicines. Then there’s a chemical reaction that can occur by adding ingredients such as ammonia and lithium, and a solvent is then added to extract the meth. Acidic gas that goes through the meth then creates the crystals.
The process of making meth is dangerous, as is using the drug, and the materials are not just toxic but also flammable and explosive.
Some of the ingredients that may be used to make meth that also play a role in understanding what does meth smell like include:
- Acetone, which is found in nail polish remover and paint thinner
- Anhydrous ammonia found in cleaners and fertilizer
- Hydrochloric acid that’s corrosive and can eat away at flesh
- Lithium which is explosive and is found in batteries and can also cause burns to the skin
- Red phosphorous which is found in explosives and is very flammable
- Sulfuric acid, which is commonly used in drain cleaner and toilet cleaner and can burn skin
So, what does meth smell like?
As a result of the materials used, meth can smell like powerful chemicals. For example, signs of a meth lab can include smells of paint or something that’s often called a “hospital smell,” because of the powerful chemical cleaners used in medical facilities. In some cases, meth smells like vinegar or ammonia, which is an odor similar to window cleaners.
What about answering what does meth smell like when it’s smoked? This is a bit harder to define. The smells above, which are strong and often apparent are associated with meth labs, but when meth is smoked, it tends to have a lighter, more subtle and almost sweet smell.
Along with smells, some of the signs of a meth lab can include odd activity at late night hours, people who seem to be unemployed but appear to have no problem paying bills, people who seem paranoid, or homes where there are frequent visitors throughout the day and night hours. The curtains of a meth lab may often be drawn, or people might go outside to smoke a cigarette rather than doing it in the house.
There may also be dead spots in the lawn because of dumping chemicals or waste, or there could be a lot of bottles and containers in the garbage.
Of course, these signs don’t have to mean a meth lab is present, but they are some of the red flags law enforcement officers often look for.