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Methamphetamine - What to Look For


Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, goes by other names such as speed, crank, crystal meth, or glass.  It is a powerful central nervous system stimulant that can quickly make addicts out of those who experiment with this highly-regulated and commonly abused drug.

How is Meth Made?

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). 

The toxic chemicals used to cook the methamphetamine creates toxic fumes and is highly explosive.  The variety of chemicals also pose long-term hazards.  These chemicals may contaminate the soil and groundwater for years.

Impact on Children

Meth also has a very serious impact on children.  Many children are rescued from homes with meth labs or meth-using parents. 

Meth, chemicals, and syringes are all within reach of these children.  Parents high on meth neglect their children in their quest to feed their addiction. 

And the mental, physical, and emotional consequences for these Drug Endangered Children are often severe.  Contact with the meth can be physically harmful, even lethal.  In addition to not having their basic needs met, these children may be subject to physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.

Some Signs of Meth Labs

Meth labs can be set up almost anywhere:  in a garage, a motel room, in the house, even in a car trunk.  There are many tell tale signs to watch for:

  • Large amount of cold tablet packages that contain ephedrine or pseudoephedrine around property or in trash
  • Lithium batteries that have been stripped or taken apart
  • coffee filters with white, blue, orange, or other colored staining on them
  • An unusually large number of chemical cans such as paint thinner, camping fuel, lye, paint thinner, acetone, or drain cleaners, or bottles containg Muriatic acid
  • Strong smells, such as urine, ammonia,
  • Windows blacked out in house so no one can see in
  • Propane tanks with blue-colored brass fittings, or compressed gas cylinders

Other things to look for in a possible meth user

  • smell of chemical odors
  • unkempt appearance, often extremely underweight, and may have poor hygiene
  • behaviors that indicate the person may be intoxicated
  • high traffic in and out of residence, short stays, and at all hours
  • person may be unusually paranoid or nervous

If you suspect a meth lab

The Arvada Police Department is part of the West Metro Drug Task Force.  This a coalition of investigators and supervisors from all of the law enforcement agencies in the First Judical District (Jefferson and Gilpin counties) who work diligently to monitor drug use and abuse within our communities.

Do you want to report drugs or drug use in your neighborhood? You can call 720-898-6750 and offer a tip to investigators.

Together we can work for a better Arvada.