As if the news about methamphetamine weren’t bad enough, meth labs have now spread to the cities and suburbs. One media source for that news is ABC News. The labs have often been described as a rural phenomenon, attributable to the lack of ways to make a living wage in those areas. Two years ago (three, by the time you read this), I saw a wonderful movie based on that assumption—Winter’s Bone—which helped make Jennifer Lawrence, also of the Hunger Games movie, a star.
I’m pretty certain that Johnson City in east Tennessee, where four people were arrested at the end of December for having a meth lab in their car, is in a rural area. That’s right, they had an active meth lab in their car. They were stopped for a tinted window violation, and several meth officers were called to the scene. The four were being held in a local detention center when the article went to press.
But cities and suburbs have their own drug problems and drug sellers are devious, so it should come as no surprise that meth labs have reached cities.
Methamphetamine in its crystal or crystalline form is called crystal meth. Other names are ice, glass, Tina, crank, Go-fast, Black Beauties, Biker’s Coffee, Chalk, Blade, and L.A. ice. About.com has an even longer list of names, and says that the drug is especially popular among women because they can lose weight quickly while taking it. However, the body builds up a tolerance and the weight loss doesn’t continue. Some people take it because it can increase the sex drive.
About.com explains that meth is often smoked, in pipes, injected, snorted or swallowed, or inserted into the anus or urethra. (There are few words for the lengths to which users will go.)
One effect of chronic use is that your teeth decay quickly and fall out. Overdosing can cause brain damage, hallucinations, delusions, the feeling that your flesh is crawling, to name a few, and yes, you can die as a result of cardiac arrest, stroke, or a high body temperature.
The cities listed in the ABC News article as examples of those where meth labs have been found are St. Louis, Kansas City, Mo., Nashville, Tenn., and Evansville, Ind. According to the article, inner-city gangs are also getting involved. I suppose it was only a matter of time, right?
It seems that there are methods other than the ones popular in rural areas for making meth that make it easier for suburbanites and city dwellers to get involved with this drug. The process in rural areas results in a strong ammonia smell that would be easily detected in a more crowded area. But legislation has made it harder to purchase medicines containing pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient, so meth manufacturers have turned to “mixing cold pills with toxic substances such as battery acid or drain cleaner — in 2-liter soda bottles. Shake-and-bake meth can be made quickly with little odor in a home, apartment, hotel, even a car.” (And therein lies a major reason for the labs’ spread.)
And this, as well, from ABC News: Another reason for the rise in urban meth is a process known among law enforcement as "smurfing" —the abundance of pharmacies in cities attracts meth-makers from surrounding rural areas, who can bring in friends to help purchase pseudoephedrine pills.
Science Daily offers a wealth of information on methamphetamine. For example, one study reported on the site indicated that fruit flies have died from anorexia. Just as interesting is the article indicating that researchers have developed a medication that may help meth addicts by reducing or preventing the euphoric rush associated with the drug.