The Dangers of Home Meth Labs

In AMC’s Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston plays a chemistry teacher (Walter White) who decides to begin producing crystal meth to help his family with medical bills for his cancer and his son’s (Walter White, Jr. played by RJ Mitte) cerebral palsy.  As the show progresses, viewers watch White become increasingly entangled in the criminal world surrounding the drug trade.  His knowledge of chemistry keeps him from getting into too much trouble with the dangerous substances he uses to make meth, and he does so away from home; but he still finds himself too deep in illegal activity to extract himself and even though he is not personally addicted, he suffers many of the same consequences as addicts – including the loss of his family’s approval.

Why are home meth labs dangerous?

Many of the chemicals that are used in meth production (such as ether, anhydrous ammonia, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen peroxide, medicines with pseudoephedrine or ephedrine, sulfuric acid, Red Devil lye, and muriatic acid) are highly flammable and could easily cause an explosion.  In addition, the fumes and vapors that are released during the meth-making process can be toxic and cause a person to become very ill.  Children who live in homes with hidden meth labs are at an even greater risk for physical and emotional problems.

What are signs of a home meth lab?

  • Smell – The chemicals used in the production of meth may give off  putrid odors comparable to sulfur (like rotting eggs) or cat urine.
  • Security – Guard dogs, “no trespassing” signs, security cameras, and baby monitors to alert occupants of people nearby may signal someone with something to hide.
  • Outdoor smoking – To avoid an explosion, individuals who make meth will often smoke outside their homes/labs.
  • Dead plants – If chemicals are dumped in the yard, there may be bald patches where nothing will grow.
  • Window coverings – Going to extreme lengths using unusual materials to prevent people from viewing a home’s contents could be a sign.
  • Paranoid behavior – If the owner is suspicious of everyone passing by, they may be hiding something.
  • Trash – Destroyed lithium batteries, coffee filters with residue and stains, cold-tablet packaging, containers with holes and plastic tubing, breathing masks, hoses, gloves, and duct tape could all potentially be discarded from a home meth lab.
  • Ventilation – Strange or excessive ventilation measures are often used in meth labs to decrease exposure to toxic fumes.
  • Night-time visitors – Suppliers and customers may visit the meth lab during the night to avoid being detected by law enforcement officials.

What should I do if I suspect someone is running a meth lab in their home?

Stay away from the structure and tell anyone in immediate danger to keep away from the building.  Contact the police immediately.

What should I do if I think a friend or family member is addicted to meth?

Meth is a highly addictive drug, and prolonged use can result in numerous negative consequences for the user from malnutrition to tooth decay (Read Meth Abuse: What Are the Signs?).  Although anyone can become addicted to meth, it has been a particularly distressing problem in the gay community (Read Meth Use in the Gay Community).  To get someone help immediately, contact eDrugRehab today.

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