What Is Methamphetamine Cut With? Common Meth Cutting Agents
Meth is produced in illicit labs and may be cut with dangerous additives. Some options for cutting agents include common household items like baking soda and acetaminophen and harmful chemicals like acetone or drugs like fentanyl.
Methamphetamine – commonly known as meth – is an intense central nervous system stimulant drug. Though it’s occasionally used as a second-line treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), it’s primarily an illicit recreational drug that’s made and sold in illegal meth labs and markets.
The drug is not only dangerous in and of itself, but it may be cut with harmful additives that can lead to toxicity and fatality, such as lithium, iodine, and hydrochloric acid. These additives are used to intensify or alter the effects of the drug or bulk it up to improve profit margin, and because it’s an illicit process, there’s no regulation over meth production.
What Is Methamphetamine Cut With?
There are numerous methamphetamine-cutting agents that may be used to alter the effects of the drug. Some meth may be cut with metal as well, which is an accidental result of the meth production process.
Here are several common methamphetamine cutting agents:
Commonly used additives or cutting agents may range from everyday substances like baby powder or baking soda to add bulk. These powders are white, so they blend easily with meth in white powder or tablet form.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is another common cutting agent and may be hidden in meth products. On its own, this chemical is a dietary supplement that’s odorless and colorless.
According to a bulletin from the National Drug Intelligence Center, “MSM usually is added to methamphetamine during the final stages of production. Methamphetamine cut with MSM often appears to be uncut because after the chemicals are combined and the mixture cools, the MSM recrystallizes, resembling pure methamphetamine.”
Meth is derived from amphetamines and products that contain pseudoephedrine and ephedrine. This manufacturing process often introduces ingredients as impurities in the finished product. Some of these cutting agents include:
- Dimethyl sulfone
Metals like palladium, nickel, and lithium may be used in meth production, often ending up in the finished product. Metal toxicity can cause symptoms like kidney failure and neurological problems.
Fentanyl is arguably the most concerning cutting agent that can show up in illicit meth. Beginning in 2019, an alarming trend of street drugs laced with fentanyl resulted in a high number of overdose deaths. Both meth and fentanyl are extremely potent and dangerous on their own, let alone combined.
Fentanyl is not only found in psychostimulants like methamphetamine but other street drugs like heroin and cocaine. It takes shockingly small amounts of fentanyl to be fatal, and it’s virtually impossible to detect without testing a sample in a lab.
Other Ingredients from Meth Production
Most meth is produced in unsafe, illegal meth labs using cold medicine. This process introduces a lot of hazardous chemicals, including:
- Hydriodic acid
- Sulfuric acid
- Red phosphorus
Any of these chemicals can be hazardous when inhaled or ingested.
Dangers of Meth Additives
Mixing meth or other drugs with other contaminants increases health risks. Meth is dangerous on its own, but some additives can increase the risk of health problems, overdose, and death. For example, combining stimulants like meth with depressants can mask overdose symptoms until it’s too late for medical intervention.
Non-pharmaceutical additives also present risks. Baking soda or powdered milk is generally safe, but it can be harmful if smoked or injected. Chemicals and metals can irritate the lungs or cause serious burns in the mouth and throat.
Smoking meth with cutting agents carries risks, but so does inject it. Some additives can’t be dissolved effectively, leading to large particles that can end up in the bloodstream. As they build up, they can cause a blockage and damage to vital organs.
How to Tell If Meth Is Cut with a Cutting Agent
It’s extremely difficult – if not impossible – to tell if meth has been produced with a cutting agent. Generally, meth must be tested in a lab to be certain of its contents.
When meth is cut with drugs that produce different side effects, however, you may be able to guess based on the signs and symptoms. For example, chlorpheniramine is an antihistamine and causes drowsiness, which is an offset of the high energy that meth causes.
Meth may produce effects like:
- Hyperthermia (high body temperature)
- Anxiety and confusion
- Extreme mood swings
- Violent behaviors
- Inability to sleep
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate
- Paranoia and hallucinations
- Jerky, erratic movements and twitching
- Poor appetite
- Poor dental hygiene and dental disease
The effects of meth with cutting agents depend on the cutting agents. Cutting meth is an inexact process. So using cut meth could produce any number of effects, including fatality.
Methamphetamine Use Disorder
Meth is highly addictive. People with methamphetamine use disorder – the term for meth addiction – struggle to quit using meth despite the negative effects in their lives. This often includes adverse health effects and risks, so the added risks of cutting agents aren’t enough to cause them to quit.
Illicit forms of meth also increase the risk of developing a meth addiction with regular use. Combining meth with other drugs can produce different effects that lead the user to seek out more to maintain the euphoria, quickly leading to addiction.
With physical dependence, quitting meth comes with significant withdrawal symptoms like:
Meth Addiction Treatment
Meth is an extremely risky drug on its own, but unknown cutting agents greatly exacerbate the risks of meth use. If you or a loved one is struggling with meth addiction, help is available.
The first step is usually medical detox. Though meth withdrawal is not usually fatal, it can be extremely uncomfortable and difficult to get through. Detox helps manage the symptoms and ensure you’re safe and comfortable while the drug makes its way out of your system.
Following detox, you have the option to enter an inpatient treatment center. Inpatient is an intensive treatment option that includes 24/7 care in a facility that allows you to focus on recovery without the distraction of your day-to-day responsibilities.
Every level of care will be tailored to your unique circumstances and history, co-occurring disorders, and treatment goals. Individual therapy, group therapy, and behavioral therapies may be included.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Do They Cut Methamphetamine With?
Other than pharmaceutical-grade methamphetamine, methamphetamine is produced in illicit labs and cut with other medications or ingredients like lithium metal, hydrochloric acid, iodine, and sulfuric acid.
What Is MSM Cutting Agent?
MSM is a chemical that’s used to treat arthritis and reduce inflammation in the body. It’s often added to meth for additional pain-relieving effects, though there’s no indication that this is effective or safe.
What Are Common Cutting Agents for Ice?
Ice, or crystal meth, is the purer, more concentrated, and more potent form of methamphetamine that looks like rocks or glass-like shards. Crystal meth is usually produced in chemical “super labs” to preserve its potency with few to no additives. Still, it’s possible for crystal meth to have dangerous cutting agents like other forms of meth.
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Crystal Methamphetamine Fast Facts – United States Department of Justice. (n.d.-b). Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs5/5049/5049p.pdf on 2023, June 23.