What is Methamphetamine?

The Allegan County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition has teamed up with city, state and local law enforcement partners to create a public awareness campaign focused on educating the public on methamphetamine. The campaign features three leaders in law enforcement: Allegan County Sheriff Blaine Koops, Allegan City Police Chief Rick Hoyer, and Colonel Etue from the State Police. The campaign is intended to bring awareness to the drug and the environmental effects associated with meth labs and the discarded products from the toxic meth dump sites.

Methamphetamine is a powerfully addictive, illegal drug that continues to be popular in Southwest Michigan. Meth can be manufactured using over-the-counter drugs, household products and other chemicals that can be purchased at any local store. Users include a wide range of people from athletes, to teens, moms, and blue-collar workers. Meth can be taken orally, smoked, snorted, or injected. The most common method in Southwest Michigan is smoking.

A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) can be found here.

A meth lab can operate unnoticed in any neighborhood for years, causing serious health hazards to everyone around. For each pound of meth produced, five to six pounds of hazardous waste are generated, posing immediate and long-term environmental health risks. The chemicals used to make meth are toxic, and “meth cooks” routinely dump waste into streams, rivers, fields, backyards and sewage systems, which can in turn contaminate water resources for humans and animals. Chlorinated solvents and other toxic by-products used to make meth pose long-term hazards because they can persist in soil and groundwater for years. Also, the poisonous vapors produced during cooking permeate the halls and carpets of houses and buildings, often making them uninhabitable. Cleaning up these sites requires specialized training.

Most methamphetamine labs in Michigan are discovered in the southwest part of the state.

In the calendar year 2010, there were 299 methamphetamine laboratories seized, down slightly from 320 in 2009. Methamphetamine-related complaints, including laboratories, dump sites, and glassware seizures totaled 395 in 2008, 659 in 2009 and 760 in 2010. Indications at each methamphetamine investigation determined the manufacturing process used. The most common method used in 2010 was the “one-pot” method of manufacture, which accounted for 565 incidents. The second most common method was the anhydrous ammonia method.

A continuing trend in methamphetamine manufacture in Michigan is the rise of the “one-pot” cooking method, in which ammonia is extracted from either ammonium sulfate or ammonium nitrate during the manufacturing process. The ease of manufacture has replaced the prevalence of other production methods and is responsible for the apparent decrease in other types of lab seizures. The one-pot method poses additional dangers due to the increased possibility of explosion or fire from volatile precursor materials combined in one container.

MDCH reports that in publicly funded drug treatment facilities in Michigan in 2009, there were 499 admissions for methamphetamine as the primary drug of abuse. In 2010 there were 596 admissions for methamphetamine as the primary drug of abuse, up from 434 in 2008. This trend is an upswing from previous years. More users requiring treatment or ordered to treatment may be evidence of the increased availability of the drug due to easier manufacturing methods and the relatively easy access to methamphetamine precursors.

According to MDCH, methamphetamine admissions in 2008 and 2009 represented less than one percent of drug abuse admissions overall, where methamphetamine was the primary drug of abuse. Many abusers are poly-drug users and will use methamphetamine along with other legal and illegal drugs.

Physical Symptoms

  • Rapid unhealthy weight loss
  • Abnormal sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nasal problems or nosebleeds
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Dilated pupils
  • Burns on lips or fingers
  • Track marks on arms

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Change in friends
  • Disinterest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Increased manic activity
  • Long periods of sleeplessness (24-120 hours) followed by long periods of sleep (24-48 hours)
  • Incessant talking
  • Irritability, erratic attention span
  • Twitching, shaking, itching- delusions of insects crawling under skin
  • Decreased appetite
  • Aggression or violent behavior
  • False sense of confidence and power
  • Carelessness about appearance
  • Paranoia, anxiousness, nervous, agitated
  • Extreme moodiness, severe depression
  • Hallucinations

Paraphernalia to indicate use

  • Rolled up paper money or short straws
  • Pieces of glass/mirrors
  • Razor blades
  • Burned spoons
  • Surgical tubing
  • Syringes/needles

**The list of symptoms may be the warning signs for abuse of other drugs also. Change in behavior doesn’t always indicate drug use, and the list above doesn’t necessarily include all possible behavioral and physical symptoms. In many cases a combination of many of the factors above and severe change in behavior is a common indicator that a person may be using drugs.

Street Names

  • meth
  • speed
  • crank
  • chalk
  • go-fast
  • zip
  • cristy

Pure methamphetamine hydrochloride, the smokeable form of the drug, is called “L.A.” or – because of its clear, chunky crystals which resemble frozen water – ice, crystal, 64glass, or quartz.


Another helpful website

The Meth Project is a large-scale prevention program aimed at reducing Meth use through public service messaging, public policy, and community outreach. Central to the program is a research-based marketing campaign, community action programs, and an in-school lesson all designed to communicate the risks of Meth use http://www.methproject.org.