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Meth Identification

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In 2022, meth-related overdoses were the 2nd highest cause of substance overdose in Kentucky. To many loved ones, you might wonder how you can identify meth and know if your child or spouse is taking it. Could you tell if you came across this substance?

At SUN Behavioral Health Kentucky, we understand the need to keep your loved ones safe. We know one of the best ways to do this is to learn the indications that they need help. Meth identification is one way to know if someone might have this disorder. Today, we will examine how you can discern if someone is taking this substance. 

Answering the Common Questions About Identifying Methamphetamine

Meth is an illicit stimulant substance made from chemicals that are often accessible even at your local Walmart. Some ingredients found in meth are paint thinner, acetone, iodine crystals, drain cleaner, lithium, and battery acid. The most common ingredients are pseudoephedrine or ephedrine, often found in cold medicine. They are made in laboratories that are found anywhere. People who make meth refer to the process as “cooking,” and they typically do not have chemistry training when doing so. Because of this, the substance is hazardous and toxic. 

What Does Meth Look Like?

Methamphetamine comes in two variations: powder or crystal-like rock. The rock is often translucent, while the powder can be off-white, yellow, or brown. The substance's coloring depends on its contents. The crystal variations can be different shapes and are sturdy in structure.

People may cut meth with other household objects to increase the supply of the product. Common cutting agents may include baking soda and flour, which may create chunks in the powder form of this substance.

What Does Meth Smell Like?

You should never try to smell meth in an attempt to identify it. Inhaling the substance through your nose might result in it being absorbed through the nasal lining. Once that has happened, it may enter your bloodstream, leading to several side effects. If you have not been consuming meth regularly, it may lead to an overdose. 

With that said, meth tends to have a bitter smell to it that is often described as smelling like ammonia or acetone. That is probably because those are usually common ingredients in the substance. 

What Does Meth Taste Like?

Similarly to smell, meth possesses a bitter taste from the chemicals it is made from. Likewise, you shouldn’t taste it. When you taste it, you increase your chances of an overdose, and it may result in irritation to the tongue, stomach lining, and esophagus. 

answering the common questions about identifying methamphetamine

How Can You Spot When Meth is Mixed With Other Substances?

Sometimes meth is mixed with other substances, which can be exceptionally risky due to the unforeseen nature of them. It can also make it more challenging to know if it contains methamphetamine or not. Common substances added to meth include fentanyl, cocaine, and heroin, and all of these come in white powder. While you can know if a substance has fentanyl in it with test strips, it is impossible to know for sure if there is meth. In some cases, combinations of meth and another substance are pressed into a pill, which can make it more challenging to know what the properties are. 

Ways Can You Tell That Someone Is Using Meth

There are many ways to know if someone is using methamphetamine, as it often comes with many noticeable side effects. One of the most significant indications someone will have if they are partaking in meth is paraphernalia. They will use these things to take the substance, including things like glass pipes, syringes, or straws, depending on the method they choose to use. Typically, people take meth by smoking, injecting, or snorting.

Another indication is if they experience meth withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms may include anxiety, paranoia, increased appetite, and fatigue. This occurs when they have been without the substance for some time. 

Besides these signs of a meth use disorder, they might have others which include using street names, side effects from the substance, and experiencing an overdose if they have consumed too much of the substance. 

Popular Street Names for Meth

People often use street names or slang for a substance to keep outsiders from knowing what they are talking about. Some of these names may appear in music lyrics or other pop culture mediums. Methamphetamine is not exempt from this treatment. Hearing a loved one mention these words may indicate they or someone they know is consuming this substance since people who are not taking it do not typically use these words. Common street names of meth include: 
  • Poor man’s cocaine
  • Bikers Coffee
  • Chalk
  • Crystal
  • Glass
  • Ice
  • Yellow Barn
  • Batu
  • Stove Top
  • Tina
  • Speed

Spotting the Short and Long-Term Side Effects of Meth

When someone is taking methamphetamine, there are many side effects they might experience. Some of them are short-term. These effects only last as long as the substance is in their system. On the other end, long-term effects develop with continued consumption. When someone is experiencing these, they will continue to persist after the short-term effects have worn off. Below is a chart with some of the most common short and long-term side effects of meth. 

Short-Term Side Effects
Increased energy/alertness
Euphoria
Chest pain
Restlessness
Hallucinations
Long-Term Side Effects
Anxiety
Memory loss
Sores from “meth mites”
Weight loss
Heart disease

The Warning Signs of a Meth Overdose

If someone consumes too much of methamphetamine or combines it with other substances, they may experience a meth overdose. 911 should be called immediately as this is a medical crisis. Calling for help increases their chances of surviving. If someone is experiencing an overdose, there are a few signs they may have, such as:
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Seizures
  • Strokes
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Increased blood pressure
In Kentucky, under The Good Samaritan Law, you can request emergency medical assistance for yourself or someone else. This law protects you from charges related to seeking emergency medical assistance. In the event of a meth overdose, this is vital to saving the person’s life, as medical professionals possess the equipment necessary to reverse this overdose. If you suspect the person may have taken an opioid alongside meth, Naloxone is also an option available. You can administer it to reverse the effects of the opioid, buying them more time. However, Naloxone will not work for meth and its side effects as it is not an opioid.
how can you spot when meth is mixed with other substances

Getting Treatment for a Meth Use Disorder in Kentucky

If someone you love has a meth use disorder, they might be hesitant to attend a treatment for meth addiction. They may have been taking this substance for several years and worry about what their life would look like if they left it behind. Offering your support to take them to a place where they can get help and having multiple conversations about how it has impacted their life can help them make the decision. 

Sometimes, they may have a mental health condition that plays a role in their meth use disorder. They may be taking this substance as a method to cope with feelings of depression or anxiety. This can create complications when only one disorder is treated. At SUN Behavioral Health Kentucky, we can treat co-occurring disorders. We will provide you or your loved one with techniques they can apply to both conditions that will make it easier for them to find a successful recovery. 

SUN Kentucky solves unmet needs in Erlanger, KY. Our no-cost care assessment allows you to work with a representative as they consider your condition, doctor’s recommendations, and previous history to design your best care plan. If you have any questions, feel free to call us at 859-429-5188

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SUN Behavioral Kentucky

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