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Teens and meth

Methamphetamine (meth) is a substance that is derived from amphetamine and is a stimulant that strongly affects the central nervous system. Meth can be smoked, snorted, injected, or ingested orally. It is available in many forms such as powder, ice, and tablets with a variety of street names including: ice, crystal meth, chalk, sketch, yellow powder, poor man’s cocaine, speed, go-fast, and glass. Methamphetamine use typically starts during the teen years. According to the 2016 Monitoring the Future survey, methamphetamine use in recent years has dropped among teens. However, the possibility of harsh behavioral, social, and physical consequences and meth’s severe potency keep it as a concern among many communities. Parents have a critical role in communicating with their teen about the use of meth.

Signs of meth

Hazardous waste

The majority of the labs that create meth are found in rural or semi-rural areas, but meth is also gaining popularity as a club drug in cities. In a meth lab, you may find jars with tubing attached and a collection of ingredients including cold medicines, anti-freeze, acetone, lantern fuel, paint thinner, drain cleaner, and battery acid. There are numerous materials and ingredients that can be used to produce meth, but the physical space required for production is quite small. Meth can be produced in the trunk of a car or even in a purse which makes it portable and easy to store. Meth labs have also been found in hotel rooms, car washes, apartments, and storage garages. Each of these drug labs has the potential to become a hazardous waste site putting anyone who comes in contact with these areas at risk.

Anhydrous ammonia

Anhydrous ammonia is another ingredient that can be used to produce meth. Anhydrous is not available to most meth producers, so it is often stolen from tanks on a farm. It is typically stored as a gas so it can be drained into a propane tank. These tanks are not suspicious looking since they are the type that typically attach to backyard grills. The valves may become bluish-green if they have been used to store or transport anhydrous.

How to talk to your teen

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Related resources

Downloadable Parent ResourcesPartnership for Drug-Free Kids — Find free informational eBook downloads, fact sheets, infographics, and more to help you care for loved ones who may be struggling with substance abuse.

Ellie McCann, Extension educator in family development

Revised by author; reviewed on same date by Jodi Dworkin, Extension specialist and associate professor in Department of Family Social Science.

Reviewed in 2018

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