Meth can be cut with opioids like fentanyl or additives like baking soda and sugar. Impurities may end up in meth during production, such as lithium and red phosphorus.
The impurities and additives that end up in methamphetamine, along with its high potential for drug abuse, make meth a potent and dangerous substance.
Additives In Meth Powder
White powder is a common form of meth. It is sold as an illicit drug under street names such as crank, speed, and tweak. Similar-looking ingredients may be hidden in meth without the buyer knowing, such as opioids, baking soda, or caffeine.
Meth can also be cut with MSM or methylsulfonylmethane.
On its own, MSM is an odorless, colorless dietary supplement. It can be hidden in meth products and is praised for its anti-inflammatory, analgesic properties, though little research exists on its interactions with meth.
Snorting and smoking meth are common ways to abuse meth powder. Inhaling or ingesting additives can cause unintended side effects in the mouth, nose, and respiratory system.
Additives In Crystal Meth
Crystal meth is a solid form of methamphetamine that can be smoked. Several studies on seized crystal meth samples found several different impurities. Common impurities included traces of pseudoephedrine, an inexpensive ingredient found in cold medicines.
Ingredients From Meth Production
A significant source of methamphetamine production originates in Mexico, where it is made cheaply in illegal meth labs with pseudoephedrine. Hazardous chemicals involved in meth production may include:
- hydriodic acid
- sulfuric acid
- red phosphorus
These chemicals may end up in the environment or the final meth product and can be dangerous when inhaled or ingested.
Dangers Of Meth Cutting Agents
Since meth is often sold illegally, it can be difficult to regulate. Additives and impurities can end up in meth that is difficult to detect. When smoking or snorting meth, you may be ingesting dangerous chemicals that you were completely unaware of, leading to serious side effects.
On its own, meth use can cause gum and tooth decay (meth mouth), memory and weight loss, psychosis, and other serious side effects. The effects of meth, when taken with cutting agents, may increase the risk of side effects, or even a life-threatening drug overdose.
Substance Use Disorder
Illicit forms of meth abuse can put patients at risk for a substance use disorder. Substance use disorders are characterized by continued drug use despite short- and long-term health effects.
Methamphetamine can cause physical dependence, meth addiction, severe cravings, and withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit. Long-term meth use is also linked to brain damage and other lasting health issues.
Meth Addiction Treatment Options
Almost all forms of meth use are also forms of substance abuse in the U.S. Abusing illicit drugs can cause lasting physical and mental health effects, which can be difficult to treat without professional help.
Contact Northeast Addictions Treatment Center to find out if our outpatient programs are a good fit for yourself or a loved one.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse — How is methamphetamine manufactured?
- National Library of Medicine: PubMed — Identification of impurities and statistical classification of methamphetamine hydrochloride drugs seized in the China
- National Library of Medicine: StatPearls — Methamphetamine
- U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) — Drug Fact Sheet - Methamphetamine
- U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) — News from DEA, Domestic Field Divisions, Boston News Releases, 11/30/06