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Meth Labs: Signs and Dangers

It’s alarming to think that meth labs can unknowingly exist in your neighborhood, but it happens more than you think. On the outside, it may seem strange that there is more than average traffic around a specific house, but who automatically assumes meth is cooking on their stove or in their microwave? Knowing the signs that a meth lab could be working inside your neighborhood is essential to the safety of everyone nearby.  

Educating yourself on meth labs helps to identify what could be happening in your neighborhood. Makeshift laboratories or meth labs are in the kitchen of regular homes, apartments, sheds, hotels, and even cars, where many people produce meth to use themselves or to sell to others. In Tennessee, agents found 1,585 meth labs in one year. Stay aware of what is happening in your neighborhood and report suspicious activity to law enforcement. 

Meth Abuse in Tennessee

Reports included that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in June 2023 that methamphetamine is the most common drug found by law enforcement across the state. It’s shocking to think that in 2005, meth was about 9% of all reported substances, but in 2023 it accounts for 32.2% of all substances.

However, meth labs are not as prevalent as they were in past years. Methamphetamine processing is not going away, and it is essential people raise awareness on how to identify where meth labs are hiding. 

Why Meth Labs Are So Dangerous

Ingredients such as antifreeze, iodine, and kitty litter are highly toxic but remain the leading properties in making meth. Pharmaceuticals, such as pseudoephedrine, were being bought in pharmacies in such great numbers it sounded the alarm. Meth labs are highly flammable and cause strong odors to occur. The vapors attack the mucous membranes of anyone nearby’s skin, eyes, and respiratory tract. 

It is essential to know about these facts to identify meth labs that could be in your neighborhood. Some chemicals in contact with water can react dangerously and cause fire or explosion. Meth labs create toxic waste like battery acid and other hazardous contaminants, which can harm surrounding areas. Those coming in direct contact with these chemicals can experience disfigurement or death. 

For every 5 to 7 pounds of meth made in a home meth lab, the disposal of the following waste occurs:

  • Corrosive liquids
  • Acid vapors
  • Heavy metals
  • Solvents and other harmful materials
  • Radioactive chemicals

Contamination from meth labs remains to cause short-term health effects on anyone who comes in contact with the house, environment or land. Professional cleaners try to clean areas where meth labs are, but contaminants still exist after testing.

Meth labs are hazardous to anyone who comes in contact with them, including police officers who enter the environment. One of the saddest situations is children being in the home where meth labs are, as everything in the house is full of contamination. 

Signs of a Meth Lab

Those who value the safety of their neighborhood need to learn how to spot a meth lab. Once you have an understanding of what a meth lab could look like, if you spot anything suspicious, do not investigate yourself. Call 911 and let the local police department analyze the situation. It is important to remember how dangerous and toxic the environment surrounding a meth lab can be. 

The following signs may be present outside the house where a meth lab is:

  • Chemical smells: paint thinner, varnish, fuel, ether, sour or vinegary smell, or an ammonia-like smell similar to cat urine, fertilizer, or window cleaner.
  • Gas cylinders or tanks that might contain anhydrous ammonia, especially if the brass valve has turned blue
  • Sheets or coverings over the windows
  • White powdery residue on things
  • Trash containing Pyrex, mason jars, or other kitchen glassware with hoses, clamps, or duct tape attached
  • Trash containing plastic soda, water or sports drink bottles, rubber and plastic tubing, dust masks, funnels, rubber gloves, large plastic storage containers, containers with multi-layered liquids, coffee filters, colanders, and metal strainers
  • Trash with cat litter, acetone, sulfuric acid, muriatic acid or pseudoephedrine packages

Meth Labs and Gasses

Meth labs are notorious for explosions and fires occurring due to the pressure of the gasses put in a two-liter bottle. Highly toxic compounds are combustible when cooked on a stove.

Avoiding this hazard in your neighborhood is paramount, and knowing what could affect your environment is essential. Families living in a community surrounding a meth lab can lose limbs, incur third-degree burns, and inhale toxic chemicals that could permanently damage the lungs. 

The Effects of Meth Abuse

Methamphetamine comes in different forms but is commonly crystal or a white, odorless powder. People smoke, snort, inject, or ingest or meth orally. Depending upon the methods of administration, the user’s moods vary, and if there is a question concerning the involvement of meth, learning how to identify significant symptoms is helpful. One can recognize the harmful effects of a methamphetamine use disorder which are apparent as having a meth lab in your home. 

The effects of meth abuse include:

  • Erratic or bizarre behaviors that include severe mood swings and obsessive behaviors
  • Hyperactivity, alertness, excitability, and extreme fluctuations in energy levels
  • Excessive irritability, agitation, and aggressive behavior or actions
  • Dramatic weight loss, appetite loss, and severe aging
  • Poor dental hygiene, meth mouth, and skin rashes
  • Dangerous behaviors, self-isolation, and social and interpersonal problems
  • Overall neglect of all responsibilities and investment in relationships
  • Financial difficulties
  • Erratic sleep problems 
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities from the past

Meth Addiction and Overdose Risks

Counteracting the rise of substance use disorders are the professional treatment centers that welcome those who seek help. Addiction treatment centers are aware of the staggering number of overdose and death statistics, especially in Tennessee. It takes a relatively short amount of time to establish a tolerance and dependence on meth.

Furthermore, those who wish to seek help and can see a future without meth have options. Professional meth detox and treatment programs are available for those who believe sobriety is possible.

Detox and Treatment

Methamphetamine addiction poses a dangerous threat to mental and physical well-being. Medically monitored detox is essential before beginning addiction treatment. The toxic chemical compounds surrounding meth addiction may require medication-assisted treatment to reduce withdrawal symptoms.

Finding the individual treatment plan to meet the needs of those with meth addiction is the specialty of the treatment professionals. 

Finding Help for Someone Involved with a Home Meth Lab

Most people never think someone they know could be running a home meth lab and selling and using the drug. Tennessee Valley Recovery has treatment professionals who understand how devastating this realization can be. Combining compassion, understanding, and professional treatment knowledge allows your loved one to experience the most successful outcomes for recovery.

Contact Tennessee Valley Recovery today to keep your loved one from suffering the devastating consequences of meth addiction.