Crystal meth is created in makeshift labs. It is an illegal drug and there is no regulation in its production. It contains many harmful and even toxic ingredients.
Before crystal meth became popular as we know it today, Chinese scientists isolated ephedra to create an old-fashioned form of meth in 1887, according to Live Science. Ephedra was combined with iodine and red phosphorus in 1919 to enhance its ability to boost alertness and suppress appetite.
During World War II, Nazi Germany created a drug called Pervitin, which soldiers took to stay awake. Der Spiegel reports that this drug was habit-forming. A former soldier named Heinrich Böll, who is known for his Pulitzer Prize, had become addicted to this pill.
Pervitin was crystal meth. Soldiers who took this pill were able to be productive for long periods, but they could not keep working with the short rest periods allotted to them.
German soldiers using the drug also began experiencing negative side effects, such as psychotic episodes and hearing failure. Pervitin was available for use after the war and prescribed for depression. University students then would use it so they could study for longer periods of time.
The drug was eventually banned in West Germany in the 1970s, and it was banned for use in East Germany in 1988. But it became popular in the United States in the 1970s.
Today, crystal meth is produced unlawfully in homemade labs around the world. Motorcycle gangs such as Hell’s Angels started to make meth and sell it on the West Coast. Problems with the drug remained in that area until meth became more popular across the entire country.
Scientist Steve Preisler published his book Secrets of Methamphetamine Manufacture in the 1980s. Cooking meth became popular, and would-be scientists and dealers began distributing meth across the country and around the world.
The first edition of Preisler’s book provided six methods for preparing meth. He encouraged people to use certain ingredients.
Meth makers found their own preferred ingredients, and the drug now includes other items.
Pseudoephedrine is the active ingredient in decongestants such as Sudafed and Suphedrine. It is used to treat symptoms of colds or bacterial infections, such as congestion, runny nose, allergies, or sinusitis.
Sudafed and other over-the-counter medications containing pseudoephedrine do not require a prescription, but people do have to show their driver’s license or provide identification to buy it. In 2005, President George W. Bush signed the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005, which put these safeguards into place.
This law now requires people to provide information that allows pharmacies to track sales of decongestants containing pseudoephedrine.
Many meth cooks understand that their purchases are tracked, so they may send several people to buy these over-the-counter medicines. This practice is known as “smurfing.”
A New York Times article from February 2018 says that some doctors require patients to get a prescription for the nasal decongestants that are ingredients in meth recipes.
Meth labs became well-known because of the things that occur when people are making the drug. One can recognize a meth lab by looking for the following:
There are also ways to recognize facilities from the outside.
VICE reports that making meth is dangerous and could cause explosions. Making meth in rural areas was more appealing because it was easier to hide these explosions there.
Some behavior could also point to a person who cooks meth.
Though some people have cooked meth in laboratories, lawmakers in Oklahoma discovered a new “shake and bake” method, as mentioned on NY Daily News.
People who make meth using this method need pills containing pseudoephedrine, a container, and common chemicals. This method eliminates the need to have a lab, and some people use items as innocent as empty soda bottles.
Lawmakers warn that more people are using this method because it allows dealers to make meth on the go. “Shake and bake” meth creation poses new dangers.
Most people who make meth are not knowledgeable about the drug’s chemistry. Authorities say that even removing the cap from a soda bottle too quickly could result in a fire, and shaking the bottle the wrong way could result in injury.
Though making meth in a lab is dangerous, officials have noted that making meth on the go causes people more extreme burns and injuries when things go wrong because people are holding their “lab” in their hands.
The “shake and bake” method enables people to throw their containers just about anywhere, releasing meth’s toxic remnants to the public. People may start turning to this method because they can make their own batches of meth. Even though they will get much less, it is still enough to satisfy a person’s cravings.
(September 2013) ‘Breaking Bad’ Comes to an End: 6 Strange Meth Facts. Live Science. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.livescience.com/40022-6-facts-about-methamphetamine.html
(February 2018) Meth, the Forgotten Killer, Is Back. And It’s Everywhere. The New York Times. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/13/us/meth-crystal-drug.html
(May 2013) The Germany Granddaddy of Crystal Meth. Der Spiegel. Retrieved January 2019 from http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/crystal-meth-origins-link-back-to-nazi-germany-and-world-war-ii-a-901755.html
(January 2014) Real-life Breaking Bad? Drug dealers sell blue crystal meth in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Independent. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/albuquerque-drug-dealers-sell-blue-crystal-meth-9059442.html
(August 2009) New 'shake-and-bake' method for making crystal meth gets around drug laws but is no less dangerous. NY Daily News. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/new-shake-and-bake-method-making-crystal-meth-drug-laws-no-dangerous-article-1.397428
(April 2018) How to Recognize a Meth Lab. Verywell Mind. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-recognize-a-meth-lab-67595
(September 2012) Surge in sale of crystal meth ingredients. Drug and Alcohol Information and Support. Retrieved January 2019 from http://www.drugs.ie/news/article/surge_in_sale_of_crystal_meth_ingredients
(August 2013) A Comprehensive Guide to Cooking Meth on ‘Breaking Bad’. VICE. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/exmg5n/a-comprehensive-guide-to-cooking-meth-on-breaking-bad
(August 2018) Crystal Meth. Friday Monday. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.fridaymonday.org.uk/drug-types/crystal-meth/
Meth Awareness. United States Department of Justice. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.justice.gov/archive/olp/methawareness/
(November 2006) Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005. DEA Chemical Industry Conference. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/mtgs/chem_industry/conf_2006/combat_caverly2006.pdf