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Methamphetamine production is an environmental concern; it involves many easily obtained chemicals that are hazardous. Read more about the different treatment options for you or your loved ones struggling with meth addiction.

What Does Meth Smell Like When Youre Cooking It?

Meth production involves using dangerous chemicals, which tend to have a powerful smell that may be similar to rotten eggs, glass cleaner, or cat urine. Odd behavior, such as residents rarely coming outside or individuals who burn or haul away the trash, can indicate a meth lab. Residents may also appear paranoid, have frequent visitors, or keep curtains drawn at all times. Meth production is risky, so if you suspect a meth house in your neighborhood, you must alert law enforcement and never approach it yourself. When meth is manufactured or “cooked,” it produces chemical byproducts in gaseous form. The odor made by cooking meth depends on the chemicals produced. Cooking meth may create odors that are:

  • Solvent: This cooking meth smell comes from different solvents, such as paint thinner and cleaning fluids used while making meth.
  • Sweet: This cooking meth smell is produced by chemicals called ethers. This smell can be described as a “hospital smell.”
  • Sharp and pungent: This cooking meth smell comes from ammonia. It is similar to the smell of stale urine and glass cleaner.

How Can You Tell If Someone Is Cooking Meth? Recognizing a Meth House from the Outside

Unusual Odors: What does meth cooking smell like? Making meth produces powerful odors that may smell like ammonia or ether. These odors have been compared to the smell of cat urine or rotten eggs.

Covered Windows: Meth makers often blacken or cover windows to prevent outsiders from seeing in.

Strange Ventilation: Meth makers often employ unusual ventilation practices to rid themselves of toxic fumes produced by the meth-making process. They may open windows on cold days or at other seemingly inappropriate times, and they may set up fans, furnace blowers, and other unusual ventilation systems.

Elaborate Security: Meth makers often set up elaborate security measures, including, for example, “Keep Out” signs, guard dogs, video cameras, or baby monitors placed outside to warn of persons approaching the premises.

Dead Vegetation: Meth makers sometimes dump toxic substances in their yards, leaving burn pits, “dead spots” in the grass or vegetation, or other evidence of chemical dumping.

Excessive or Unusual Trash: Meth makers produce large quantities of unusual waste that may contain, for example:

  • packaging from cold tablets
  • lithium batteries that have been torn apart
  • used coffee filters with colored stains or powdery residue
  • empty containers – often with puncture holes – of antifreeze, white gas, ether, starting fluids, Freon, lye, drain opener, paint thinner, acetone, alcohol, or other chemicals
  • plastic soda bottles with holes near the top, often with tubes coming out of the holes
  • plastic or rubber hoses, duct tape, rubber gloves, or respiratory masks.

How Can You Tell If Someone Is Cooking Meth? Recognizing a Meth House from the Inside

Appearance and Cleanliness of the Structure: Houses and other structures hosting meth labs vary enormously in their appearance. It may be immediately apparent that meth is being manufactured and used in the structure. A structure hosting a meth lab may be unkempt, unsanitary, and full of chemical odors. On the other hand, the structure may also appear very normal and orderly. The appearance of the structure depends on the care that the meth manufacturer takes to hide his or her unlawful activities.

Presence of Equipment or Apparatus Used to Meth: There may be strange types of equipment or apparatus in the house used to manufacture meth. For instance, soft drink bottles with hoses attached or cans of camping fuel with holes punched through the sides or bottom indicate the presence of a meth lab.

Presence of Meth Ingredients: The best indicators of meth production are the presence of the ingredients used to make the drug. Homes containing a meth lab may have either, a large amount of a single meth ingredient, such as Sudafed, or alternatively, a significant number of ingredients and supplies used to make meth.

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Meth Addiction Statistics

There are about 24.7 million amphetamine-type stimulant abusers worldwide. In 2018, these figures continued to increase. There are about 24.7 million amphetamine-type stimulant abusers worldwide. In 2018, these figures continued to grow.

2.6 million

Among people aged 12 or older in 2020, 0.9% (or about 2.6 million people) reported using methamphetamine in the past 12 months.

Source: 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

1.5 million

Among people aged 12 or older in 2020, an estimated 0.6% (or about 1.5 million people) had a methamphetamine use disorder in the past 12 months.

Source: 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health


In 2020, approximately 23,837 people died from an overdose involving psychostimulants with abuse potential other than cocaine (primarily methamphetamine). 

Source: CDC


Methamphetamine Drug Facts Sheet

What is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine (meth) is a stimulant. The FDA-approved brand-name medication is Desoxyn.

What is its origin?

Mexican drug trafficking organizations have become the primary manufacturers and distributors of methamphetamine throughout the United States, including Hawaii. Domestic clandestine laboratory operators also produce and distribute meth on a smaller scale. The methods used depend on the availability of precursor chemicals.

What are common street names?

Common street names include:

  • Batu
  • Bikers Coffee
  • Black Beauties
  • Chalk
    Chicken Feed
  • Crank
  • Crystal
  • Glass
  • Go-Fast
  • Hiropon
  • Ice
  • Poor Man’s
  • Cocaine
  • Shabu
  • Shards
  • Speed
  • Stove Top
  • Tina
  • Trash
  • Tweak
  • Meth
  • Methlies Quick

What is its legal status in the United States?

Methamphetamine is a Schedule II stimulant
under the Controlled Substances Act, which
means that it has a high potential for abuse and a
currently acceptable medical use (in FDA-approved products). It is available only through a prescription that cannot be refilled.

Today there is only one legal meth product, Desoxyn®. It is currently marketed in 5, 10, and 15-milligram tablets (immediate-release and extended-release formulations) and has very limited use in the treatment of obesity and ADHD

What does it look like?

What does meth look like? Regular meth is a pill or powder. Crystal meth
resembles glass fragments or shiny blue-white “rocks” of various sizes.

How is it abused?

Meth is swallowed, snorted, injected, or smoked. To intensify the effects, users may take higher doses of the drug, take it more frequently, or change their intake method.

What is its effect on the body?

  • Taking even small amounts of meth can result in:
  • Increased wakefulness
  • Increased physical activity
  • Decreased appetite
  • Rapid breathing and heart rate
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Hyperthermia (overheating)

What is its effect on the mind?

Meth is a highly addictive drug with potent central nervous system (CNS) stimulant properties. Those who smoke or inject it report a brief, intense sensation or rush. Oral ingestion or snorting produces a long-lasting high instead of a rush, which reportedly can continue for as long as half a day.

Both the rush and the high are believed to result from the release of very high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine into areas of the brain that regulate feelings of pleasure. Long-term meth use results in many damaging effects, including addiction.

How Can You Tell If Someone Is Cooking Meth? Recognizing a Meth House from the Behavior of the Occupants

Paranoid Behavior: Meth makers tend to act in a manner that is extremely paranoid and secretive. For example, they may monitor passing cars, show great suspicion toward strangers, and – as noted above – construct elaborate security systems around their homes.

Staying Inside: Residents of houses containing meth labs may remain inside their homes for extended periods of time. Many meth addicts and meth makers are not only paranoid and secretive, but also unemployed.

Smoking Outside: By the same token, residents of houses and other structures containing meth labs often go outside to smoke. They do this to avoid igniting a fire or explosion when matches, lighters, or cigarettes come into contact with the highly combustible chemicals and fumes found in a meth lab.

Frequent Visitors: Although residents of a house or other structure containing a meth lab may stay in or near their homes, they often receive a large number of visitors, especially at night. These visitors may be bringing supplies, taking away meth, using meth, hanging out, or any combination of these activities.

Mobile Garage: To avoid detection of their illegal activities, meth makers may burn their trash, place it in the trash collection area of another house or building, or cart it away and dump it elsewhere.

What Are the Ingredients of Meth?

People addicted to meth and attempting to sell it can easily find different recipes showing how to make meth. Crystal meth can be made with products that can be found in any grocery store. Certain ingredients, like ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, have been further regulated to prevent people from making meth.

 Here are some typical meth-making ingredients and supplies:

  • Cold medications containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine
  • Lithium batteries
  • Ether and/or camping fuels
  • Anhydrous ammonia
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Red Devil lye
  • Sulfuric, muriatic, and/or hydrochloric acid
  • Coffee filters
  • Funnels and turkey basters
  • Improvised glassware 

While many of these ingredients and equipment are common, the amounts and the form of the ingredients needed to manufacture meth are different than what the average person would possess. For instance, multiple boxes of cold medicine, or cold medication removed from blister packs, may indicate the presence of a meth lab. The same is true for coffee filters covered with strange stains or powders.

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How Do You Cook Meth?

The meth manufacturing process is both complex and risky. The process often causes explosions and fires. Cooking meth also creates large amounts of toxic waste. Meth labs are usually found in trailers, homes, motel rooms, and other relatively small spaces. Containers, hoses, jars, and filters can all be signs of a meth lab.

How is meth cooked? Unlike drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, which are derived from plants, meth can be manufactured using a variety of store-bought chemicals. The most common ingredient in meth is pseudoephedrine or ephedrine, commonly found in cold medicine. Through a cooking process the pseudoephedrine or ephedrine is chemically changed into meth. The ingredients that are used in the process of making meth can include: ether, paint thinner, Freon, acetone, anhydrous ammonia, iodine crystals, red phosphorus, drain cleaner, battery acid, and lithium (taken from inside batteries). 

How to cook crystal meth? Meth is often manufactured or “cooked” in very crude laboratories. Many of these labs are not sophisticated operations and do not require sophisticated chemistry equipment. And the people who cook the meth usually do not have any chemistry training. Cooking meth is relatively simple, but highly toxic and dangerous. 

There are two basic categories of meth labs:

  • Superlabs produce large quantities of meth and supply organized drug trafficking groups that sell the drug in communities across the U.S. Most of the larger labs are controlled by Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations operating in the U.S. and Mexico.
  • Small Toxic Labs produce smaller quantities of meth. These labs can be set up in homes, motel rooms, inside automobiles, and in parks or rural areas – really almost anywhere.

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What does meth smell like when youre cooking it? Illicitly manufactured methamphetamine may contain numerous cutting agents and chemicals that were improperly separated during production.
What does meth smell like when youre cooking it? Illicitly manufactured methamphetamine may contain numerous cutting agents and chemicals that were improperly separated during production. 

The Dangers of Being Exposed to a Meth House

Beyond the signs of meth production, numerous dangers are associated with exposure to a meth lab. For example, one study found that the need for healthcare services to address meth exposure was high for both law enforcement officers and meth cooks. Frequently reported health problems included headaches, breathing difficulties, nausea, vomiting and eye irritation.

The dangers of exposure to a meth lab are so great that even people who move into a former meth lab may be at risk of health problems. For example, a 2017 study reported on the experiences of a family of five who moved into a former meth lab, which was not properly cleaned after the previous owner was arrested for meth production. As a result, seven months after the family moved into the home, they were advised that it was a former drug laboratory.

The family members, who had never used meth, underwent medical evaluations. All family members tested positive for meth and experienced health problems living in the contaminated home. The youngest child in the family shared the most significant issues, including sleep disturbances, asthma symptoms, and behavioral problems. Other health problems in the family included ongoing cough, watery eyes, weight loss, and dizziness. These issues were resolved six to twelve months after the family moved out of the home.

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What Does Meth Smell Like When Smoked?

Meth is not likely to have a noticeable odor, as pure meth has little to no odor. Some people believe that meth may have a slight sweet smell when being smoked, but others do not believe it has a smell. Either way, the odor is not strong or characteristic of meth. However, meth that has impurities may have smells that come from the process of making it.

What Does Crystal Meth Smell Like?

Crystal meth is a solid, and it does not release gas like meth does when it is smoked or manufactured. This means that crystal meth is unlikely to have a smell by itself, and any smell that crystal meth has would likely be due to contaminants.

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Meth Addiction Treatment

First and foremost, if you think a loved one is abusing meth, you should research the substances and their associated addiction to understand better what your loved one needs.  Next, you must plan an intervention to provide your loved ones with options to battle the effects of meth addiction in a safe and supportive environment. During this intervention, offer compassion and support instead of judgment. Lastly, show your support throughout the entire treatment process.

In addition, prolonged drug use can have severe physical and psychological effects on you, so it is essential to seek treatment as soon as possible. Inpatient drug rehab offers intensive care that can help you promptly get through the early stages of meth withdrawal. 

Meth Detox

Medical detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated meth detox withdrawal but doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior contributing to drug use. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete the meth detox.

Cravings are very common during drug detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can give medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Inpatient Meth Addiction Rehab

There isn’t one treatment approach or style that will suit everyone. Treatment should speak to the needs of the individual. Inpatient rehab and addiction treatment aren’t just about drug use. the goal is to help the patient stop using meth and other substances, but drug rehab should also focus on the whole person’s needs.

Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior. When someone or their family is considering different treatment facilities, they should account for the complexity of addiction and the needs of the individual. The objective of attending an inpatient rehab center for addiction treatment is to stop using the drug and re-learn how to live a productive life without it.

Following a full medical detox, most people benefit from inpatient rehab. Inpatient drug rehab can last anywhere from 28 days to several months. Patients stay overnight in the rehab facility and participate in intensive treatment programs and therapy. Once someone completes rehab, their addiction treatment team will create an aftercare plan, which may include continuing therapy and participation in a 12-step program like Narcotics Anonymous.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Drug abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. Traumatic experiences can often result in mental health disorders and substance abuse. Dual-diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. This strategy treats both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend mainly on the treatment for both diseases done by the same team or provider.

Medication Assisted Treatments (MAT)

Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.

Please, do not try to detox on your own. The detox process can be painful and difficult without medical assistance. However, getting through the detox process is crucial for continued treatment. We Level Up provide proper care with round-the-clock medical staff to assist your recovery through our opioid addiction treatment program medically. So, reclaim your life, and call us to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

Meth Rehab Near Me

Meth addiction is a condition that can cause major health problems, such as an overdose. We Level Up NJ rehab treatment & detox center can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from this with professional and safe treatment. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition and clarify issues like meth withdrawal symptoms. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.

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