What Is Meth Cut With?

2 min read · 4 sections

meth Methamphetamine is an intense stimulant that is often made and sold on illegal markets.

When made in illicit meth labs, this drug is produced by distilling several harsh chemicals and medications like codeine.1 Since there is no regulation of this production process, illicit meth is often “cut” with additives in order to intensify or alter the effects of the drug or so dealers can sell less of the actual drug for more money. This is a very common tactic to the point that it’s widely accepted by dealers and buyers alike.

Many of these additives are dangerous to human health and should not be ingested in any form. Common additives include:2

  • Lithium metal
  • Hydrochloric acid
  • Iodine
  • Sulfuric acid
  • Red phosphorus
Additives often alter the appearance of the final product, though sometimes it’s impossible to tell by sight that anything has been added to the batch. This can lead to poisoning and meth overdose deaths as users are unaware of what they are putting in their bodies. At the same time, a new batch that is purer – containing fewer additives – than an individual is used to can cause an overdose. Currently, the average purity of meth found in illicit markets is around 70 percent. This is thought to be the purest it’s ever been.
The type of additives used depends largely on what type of meth is being produced. The two most common forms are the standard odorless white powder that can be snorted, smoked, dissolved to be injected into one’s veins, or even eaten, and the purer crystal meth, named for its translucent appearance as chunks or shards. Crystal meth is typically smoked in a pipe or dissolved and injected.3 Meth can also be manufactured into tablets to be taken orally, but this is rare.

Meth can also be added to other drugs, and other drugs added to meth, often without people’s knowledge.

According to one chemist’s estimates, around 15-20 percent of ecstasy tablets confiscated and analyzed contain meth.4

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Increased Health Risks

Mixing meth, or any drug, with other intoxicants compounds health risks to the user. Mixing stimulants increases the risk of deadly overdose, while combining stimulants like meth with depressants can mask overdose symptoms until it’s too late to get help. Even seemingly harmless additives like powdered milk or baking soda can be harmful if smoked or injected. Certain substances, especially chemicals and metals, can cause serious burns in the mouth and throat, and cause additional irritation in the lungs.

Injecting meth comes with added risks, as many additives can’t be effectively dissolved. As a result, tiny particles end up in the bloodstream and can get stuck, eventually piling up and causing blockages. If this happens around vital organs like the heart, brain, or liver, it can cause dangerous health conditions and even permanent damage or death.

Interestingly, since meth is made using common household cleaners and fertilizers that are often obtained illegally or even stolen, authorities are attempting to curb the problem by inserting their own additives into essential ingredients. Recently, reports came out about such an additive being researched for its potential to be added to anhydrous ammonia – a very common ingredient in meth production. The additive severely reduces the overall yield of the drug, making meth production much less profitable. Fighting the meth industry like this could save the lives of many users and dealers alike.

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  1. FRONTLINE PBS. Frequently Asked Questions: The Meth Epidemic.
  2. McVay, Doug. (2021). Drug Policy Facts.
  3. WebMD. Crystal Meth: What You Should Know.
  4. Merlan, Anna. Dallas Observer. Don’t Panic, But There’s Probably Meth in Your Ecstasy and De-Wormer In Your Cocaine.
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