What Is Meth Cut With?

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Methamphetamine, also known as meth, is a highly addictive stimulant substance. Stimulants speed up the body and central nervous system. Meth is classified as a Schedule II substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration, meaning that it is illegal to use recreationally, but it can be used for certain medical purposes. (1) There are two types of methamphetamines. (2) One is an odorless, white powder. This type of meth can be ingested through smoking, snorting, eating, or intravenous injections. The other type of meth, known as crystal meth, is translucent and can be in the form of chunks. (3) Crystal meth can be smoked or injected intravenously.

Since meth is often used illicitly, it is usually made and sold through illegal markets. Meth use has steadily increased throughout the past few years. Approximately 2.5 million individuals, over the age of 11, reportedly engaged in meth use in 2021. (4) Within the same year, approximately 1.6 million individuals were diagnosed with methamphetamine use disorder. (5) Methamphetamine use disorder is the term used to describe individuals experiencing methamphetamine addiction or dependency. (6)

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List of Additives & Cutting Agents Used in Cutting Meth

When made in illegal meth labs, the drug is made by mixing and separating harsh chemicals and substances. (7) Those making illegal meth often cut the drug or add different additives to it. What is meth cut with? Meth can be cut with various additives, chemicals, and substances. The additives are usually dangerous and should not be ingested as they can cause adverse health effects.

Common additives and cutting agents used to cut meth include: (8)

  • Lithium metal
  • Hydrochloric acid
  • Acetaminophen
  • Caffeine
  • Phenacetin
  • Ambroxol
  • Ketamine
  • Procaine
  • Barbital
  • Chlorpheniramine
  • Iodine
  • Sulfuric acid
  • Dimethyl Sulfone
  • Red phosphorus

Why Is Meth Cut With Other Agents?

With no regulations for illegal productions, meth is cut with additives in order to intensify its effects. Drug dealers often cut meth with additives in order to make more money. Using cutting agents is a practice used for other highly addictive substances such as cocaine or heroin. Cutting meth with other agents can also make it possible for dealers to sell less meth since some of its contents would contain additives.

Dangers & Health Risks of Mixing Meth With Other Substances

Mixing meth with other substances greatly increases the chances of an individual experiencing dangerous health risks and side effects. Mixing meth with other stimulants can increase the chances of an individual experiencing a fatal overdose, as two stimulants may increase one’s heart rate to a deadly level. (9) Mixing meth with depressants, or substances that slow down the central nervous system, can make it difficult to identify overdose symptoms. (10) It is a dangerous practice to mix meth with other substances.

Does Meth Mixed With Other Substances Increase Addictiveness?

Mixing meth with other substances can increase one’s chances of developing a substance use disorder or a polysubstance use disorder. Meth increases the amount of dopamine in the brain. (11)  Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a large role in an individual experiencing feelings of pleasure. (12) Many other substances affect the brain in similar ways as meth, rewarding the brain for substance use. Having an influx of dopamine, due to mixing meth with other substances, can cause the brain to stop making dopamine naturally over time. This leads to and perpetuates the cycle of addiction.

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Potential Side Effects of Snorting or Smoking Meth Cut With Additives

The way that meth is ingested can increase its dangerousness if it contains additives. Snorting meth with certain chemicals and metals can lead to burns in the mouth. (13) Smoking meth that contains additives can irritate the lungs. (14)

Can You Tell if Meth Has Been Cut With Additives?

Some additives may alter the visual appearance of meth and other substances. Oftentimes, it is impossible to be able to tell whether or not meth has been cut with additives. Having the drug tested in a lab is the only way to know exactly what it contains. Not being able to tell whether or not there are meth cutting agents in a batch can increase an individual’s chances of experiencing a meth overdose, or being poisoned. If an individual engages in meth use with a batch that has fewer additives than they are used to, they can also experience an overdose.

Signs and symptoms associated with a methamphetamine overdose include: (15)

  • Agitation and aggressive behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions
  • Chest pain
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Difficulties breathing
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Experiencing a heart attack
  • Experiencing a seizure
  • Experiencing a stroke

An overdose due to meth use can begin suddenly, or it can develop over time. If you or someone you love experience any of the above symptoms, it is important to seek emergency medical care. Experiencing a meth overdose can be fatal. In 2021, approximately 32,537 individuals died due to experiencing a fatal overdose involving methamphetamine and other stimulant drugs. (16)

Signs of Methamphetamine Use Disorder

Understanding the signs and symptoms associated with methamphetamine addiction can help you identify if you or a loved one are experiencing a substance use disorder. Signs can develop shortly after use begins, or they can emerge over time.

Signs and symptoms associated with methamphetamine use disorder include:

  • Taking larger amounts of meth than intended
  • Experiencing unsuccessful attempts of cutting back or quitting meth use
  • Continuing meth use despite experiencing negative health effects or consequences
  • Neglecting personal, occupational, or relational obligations due to meth use
  • Neglecting personal hygiene
  • Developing meth mouth
  • Experiencing an increase in aggressive or erratic behavior
  • Withdrawing socially from friends and family
  • Experiencing legal or financial troubles due to meth use
  • Engaging in more risky and dangerous behaviors since meth use
  • Engaging in theft in order to support meth use
  • Developing tolerance, or the need to ingest large amounts of meth in order to reach the desired high
  • Experiencing physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal when meth use is stopped or the drug become unavailable

An overdose due to meth use can begin suddenly, or it can develop over time. If you or someone you love experience any of the above symptoms, it is important to seek emergency medical care. Experiencing a meth overdose can be fatal. In 2021, approximately 32,537 individuals died due to experiencing a fatal overdose involving methamphetamine and other stimulant drugs. (16)

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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

  1. https://www.dea.gov/drug-information/drug-scheduling
  2. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine
  3. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine
  4. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-scope-methamphetamine-misuse-in-united-states
  5. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-scope-methamphetamine-misuse-in-united-states
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8098650/
  7. https://www.justice.gov/archive/olp/methawareness/#made
  8. https://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs1/1837/1837t.htm
  9. https://drugpolicy.org/drug-facts/mixing-meth-other-drugs
  10. https://drugpolicy.org/drug-facts/mixing-meth-other-drugs
  11. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine
  12. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/dopamine
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4388881/
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4261306/
  15. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-scope-methamphetamine-misuse-in-united-states
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430895/

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

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Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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