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Meth Identification

You may think substance use will never affect your life. Until the day you find a mysterious bag of powder in your loved one’s bag. How can you know what it is? Should you try to smell it? Is this why your loved one has been acting so differently?

You may think it is no big deal, even when you find out it is meth. Your loved one is still working and tending to their daily responsibilities, so what is the harm?

In 2021, over 2,000 Floridians died from taking meth, which was the third leading overall cause of death. So … Now what?

At Clean Recovery Centers, we bring education about substance use to light. Let’s talk about meth identification and what to do if you find it.

meth identification clean recovery

Can You Identify Meth by Looks?

Methamphetamines are a type of stimulant derived from amphetamines and chemicals. When it comes to identifying substances, it can be difficult to tell from the naked eye what you are looking at. Meth comes in a white powder form or a crystal-like shard. While most substances come in whitish powder, meth can have an iridescent sheen that can be seen in the powder. This is because it is formed from crushing the glass-like shards. When meth is left in crystal form, it is hard to the touch and can vary in shape and size. It will also have an iridescent sheen.

Though meth can be distinct, cutting agents can mask some of the identifying properties. Adding other powdered substances such as fentanyl, crushed amphetamines, or baking soda can reduce the iridescent look of meth, making it more difficult to identify. However, meth powder can also have tints of color from the creation process, including green, red, brown, or yellow. This may help distinguish it from other substances such as cocaine or heroin.

can you identify meth by looksWhat Does Meth Smell Like?

First and foremost, never smell a substance to try to identify it. Smelling a substance like meth is a form of ingestion and will cause you to experience its effects. In those who do not regularly use meth, this can even lead to an accidental overdose. That being said, meth can have a chemical-like smell, usually of acetone or ammonia. When it is being smoked, meth may smell of sulfur. The smell of meth may be masked by burning plastic or hot glass, depending on what material the meth is being smoked out of.

Is Tasting Meth a Way of Identification?

Because of the chemicals in meth production, meth often has a bitter taste that burns the throat and nose when ingested via smoking or snorting. As with smell, tasting meth is not a viable way to identify the substance. Tasting meth introduces it to the bloodstream, and even just a small amount of powder will induce effects on those who do not regularly take the substance. There is also a risk of chemical burns from tasting meth, which is why you should never attempt to identify an unknown substance by taste.

Meth Mixed With Other Drugs

As we mentioned above, when meth is mixed with other substances, it can be harder to identify. Many common illicit substances such as heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine come in white powder form and can be mistaken for meth. When meth has these substances added, there is no way to tell with the naked eye. While there are no ways to test for cocaine or heroin, fentanyl test strips allow you to test the meth for the presence of fentanyl. Fentanyl is a dangerous opioid that can cause an overdose with as little as 2 milligrams. If the test strip shows a positive result, the presence of fentanyl has been detected.

Meth has also been seen to be mixed into fake pills, resembling rainbow fentanyl. These pills look like oxycodone or Adderall but actually contain meth, fentanyl, or a combination of both. If you see colorful pills amongst a loved one’s belongings, don’t touch them. Illicit substances can be absorbed through the skin, which can lead to adverse effects.

Popular Street Names for Meth

When it comes to illicit substances, most have different slang terms and emojis used to describe them. These are called street names, and they are used to talk about substances like meth without authoritative figures knowing. Common emojis include the crystal ball (🔮), ice cube (🧊), diamond (💎), and ice cream (🍦). Common meth street names include:

  • Crank
  • Glass
  • Ice
  • Crystal
  • Tina
  • Shards
  • Chalk

How to Tell if Someone You Love Is Using Meth

Meth use comes with serious side effects both physical and mental. If you have a loved one taking meth, there will be noticeable changes in their appearance, behaviors, and habits. These effects have both short-term and long-term consequences.

Short-Term Effects

When meth is first taken, a rush of euphoria and pleasure ensues. This is followed by an increase in attention, hypervigilance, and distrust of others. A decrease in appetite is also common with taking meth. However, meth also causes the central nervous system to speed up, resulting in rapid heart rate and increased body temperature. Even in short-term use, these side effects can lead to seizures and heart attacks.

Long-Term Effects

The long-term effects of meth take a large toll on mental health. Meth causes paranoia, and the longer it is taken, the more paranoia can evolve. Delusions and hallucinations are the result, making the person have extreme distrust of those around them. Hearing and seeing things that aren’t there can make paranoia worse, and the person may lash out at those who care for them. This can cause injury to both parties and make any situation turn dangerous. If you are trying to help someone who is hallucinating from meth, always call for professional help. Medics are trained to handle these situations and will take proper care of the person.

Meth is typically taken in binge and crash cycles. This means the person will take meth over days at a time before the body gives out and forces a crash. The body experiences many negative effects including a weakened immune system. The person is already not eating from loss of appetite and they do not have a regular sleep cycle. This results in poor health from trying to fight infections through malnourishment and sleep deprivation. A common cold will take much longer to recover from in those who take meth regularly.

Meth Overdose

It is possible to experience an overdose of meth. When the body becomes overwhelmed by the amount taken, systems begin to go haywire. The heart beats too erratically, leading to heart attacks and possible strokes from thrown blood clots. Seizures can occur as body temperature rises too high. A meth overdose is a medical emergency and should be treated as such. Unlike opioid overdoses, there is no medication to reverse the effects of meth. Medical professionals will manage the symptoms while the body processes the meth within the system.

So, You Have Identified Meth – Now What?

Finding an unknown substance is scary enough, but identifying that your loved one has been taking meth can be even scarier. What is your next step? As we mentioned above, meth can cause paranoia and distrust in others, even family members and close friends. Approaching your loved one for a conversation has to happen at a time that is safe for both of you. This will most likely happen after the person awakens from a crash. They will be irritable, and they may lash out at you for asking questions. The key is to remain calm and listen to what they have to say. Ask questions without making them feel ashamed – they are still a person, not a meth problem. Use compassionate but firm speech and discuss what the next steps will be. Remind them that you will be there for support during and after treatment. Having someone in their corner is one of the most crucial parts of a successful recovery.

Treatment Options for Methamphetamine Use Disorder in Tampa, FL

No one thinks they will need to know about meth identification until it affects them firsthand. When it does, it is crucial to be prepared with what to do next. Having meth use disorder treatment options is the first step to begin the recovery process. Treating meth addiction is not just about addressing substance use, it involves understanding the person as a whole. Mental health, past trauma, and future planning are all a part of the treatment process. Healing these areas allows your loved one to move forward with their life into a bright, successful recovery of living meth-free.

If you or someone you love is managing a meth use disorder, help is here on the Gulf Coast. Clean Recovery Centers has a unique, three-phase approach to treatment that heals you from within. Our program gives you the tools needed to thrive in recovery, and our alumni program is available for support after treatment is complete. Call us today at (888) 330-2532 to learn more about our program offerings.

Get clean. Live clean. Stay clean.

FAQs About Meth Identification

How can I talk to my loved one about their meth use?

Approaching your loved one for a conversation has to happen at a time that is safe for both of you. This will most likely happen after the person awakens from a crash. They will be irritable, and they may lash out at you for asking questions. The key is to remain calm and listen to what they have to say. Ask questions without making them feel ashamed – they are still a person, not a meth problem. Use compassionate but firm speech and discuss what the next steps will be.

Where are common places for people to hide meth?

Meth typically comes in small, ziplocked bags or pieces of tied plastic. Common hiding places are areas where people don’t often look, such as under the back of the toilet, high up cabinets or shelves, or any area the person thinks is a safe place.

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