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Identifying Methamphetamine (Meth) | Look, Smell & Taste

Meth can come in the form of a powder, pill, or crystal.[1] As a powder, it has a whitish appearance. Crystal meth appears as shards of crystals or glass that are either clear or bluish.

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Unless a person intends to smoke meth, there isn’t much in the way of paraphernalia required to use it, although snorting it is often done through the use of a straw or similar tool (although one can also snort powder without these tools).

What Does Meth Look Like?

Meth comes in several forms, such as these:[1]

Powder

Meth can come in the form of a whitish powder. As is true of most drug powders, the actual color can differ significantly depending on the purity of the substance. Cheap and sometimes dangerous cutting agents are commonly used to make selling drugs more profitable, so some of the additives used can be very harmful.

Pill

Meth is sometimes sold in the form of a pill. Pills can come in almost any shape or color, although white or blue pills seem to be the most common for meth.

Crystal

Crystalline meth, often called glass or crystal meth, generally looks like shards of glass or bluish-white rocks.[1] This is often the form of meth that most people imagine when they hear the term, although it notably is only one of several forms the drug can take.

Common Meth Paraphernalia

In its powder or pill form, meth doesn’t necessarily require any paraphernalia to use. However, methamphetamine can be snorted (either in its powder form or if pills are bought and crushed). Snorting the drug can be made easier through the use of a variety of devices, such as straws or rolled-up paper.

Crystalline meth is typically smoked, which is usually done through a glass or ceramic pipe. This will require some source of heat. 

What Does Meth Smell Like?

Anecdotal reports on meth’s smell seem to vary. Some people describe it as smelling sweet when smoked, while other sources claim it has little or no smell. 

Much more information exists on what to expect from meth production. As the drug is made, the process can produce a variety of unpleasant smells, including those similar to cat urine, ammonia, rotten eggs, or paint thinner.[2]

What Does Meth Taste Like?

Meth is usually reported as having a bitter taste. The actual taste would be considered unpleasant by most people (and obviously isn’t the reason a person is typically taking the drug). 

Meth is often smoked, where taste is less of a factor, although it can be swallowed in its powder or pill form.

Identifying Meth Addiction

It’s important to acknowledge that addiction doesn’t necessarily look the same in all individuals. Many people manage to be high-functioning drug addicts, where they can hide and manage their drug abuse in such a way that it often isn’t obvious they have a problem. As meth use escalates, the chances of this become slimmer. 

In the short term, a person using meth is likely to exhibit much more energy than normal and will be more capable of performing physical activities for longer without showing obvious signs of tiring.[3] Their appetite will decrease, and their body will essentially be in “overdrive,” with breathing and heart rate increasing. The individual’s blood pressure and body temperature will rise, and they may have an irregular heartbeat.[3] 

Repeated abuse of meth can cause significant changes to personality. People who abuse meth may be more anxious, experience severe mood swings, and can show signs of violent and paranoid behavior. They may experience hallucinations and have delusions, where they see and believe things that aren’t true and often don’t make logical sense. Meth can also severely impact a person’s teeth and can cause a person to itch, with many meth users eventually developing skin sores from repeated scratching.[3]

A person addicted to methamphetamine will spend a significant amount of their time seeking out, using, and recovering from meth. They will likely struggle to meet responsibilities at work, school, and in other important areas of their life.[4]

Recovery From Meth Addiction

The first step of recovery is often meth detox. After a person has stabilized in detox, comprehensive addiction therapy will generally start. The key is that addiction treatment should be personalized to meet the individual needs of each person in treatment.[5]

Reach out to us here at Boca Recovery Center to learn more about how our unique addiction treatment program can help you stop all use of meth and other substances. Your healing journey can begin today.

Updated January 24, 2024
Resources
  1. Methamphetamine. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Accessed November 20, 2023.
  2. Recognizing a meth house / structure. Accessed November 20, 2023. State of Nevada.
  3. Methamphetamine (Crystal/Meth). National Institute on Drug Abuse. Accessed November 20, 2023.
  4. Neurobiology, clinical presentation, and treatment of methamphetamine use disorder. Paulus MP, Stewart JL. JAMA Psychiatry. 2020;77(9).
  5. The key to individualized addiction treatment is comprehensive assessment and monitoring of symptoms and behavioral change. B Hilton T, Pilkonis P. ehavioral Sciences. 2015;5(4):477-495.
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