Methamphetamine: Breaking Bad Versus the Facts
Methamphetamine has entered the living rooms of the millions of Breaking Bad fans around the world. The show's main character Walter White, a chemistry teacher, slips into the sordid world of drugs by manufacturing methamphetamine. But what about the reality of the drug? Does what we have seen on the TV reflect the real facts of the drug? Check out our five facts about Methamphetamine.
Where did it come from?
Chinese medicine used a shrub called Ephedra Sinica for thousands of years when in 1887 scientists first found the chemical ephedrine within it. A number of years later methamphetamine was formed by mixing the ephedrine with red phosphorous and iodine.
It was quickly realised that this new chemical had mood enhancing, and appetite supressing properties as well as the ability to create focus in those that took it. Hitler gave it to soldiers to boost morale and amphetamine was also added to diet pills.
How is it made?
In order to produce methamphetamine there is a requirement for other drugs. Ephadrine, the substance found in the shrub and pseudoephedrine (as in the active ingredient in decongestants) can become methamphetamine when they undergo chemical changes.
Many of the meth labs are based in Mexico and California. There has been a huge increase in the number of them over the past decade. There are some, like Walter White, who produce the drug in home laboratories. Historically pharmacy decongestants were combined with chemicals however there is a move towards the use of methylamine – like Walter White - which is a legal chemical. Of course this is a dangerous business as the chemicals can be volatile and cause explosions.
Breaking Bad portrayed the drug as a pure crystal blue but is that the true methamphetamine? Pure meth is actually white or clear however it is true that there are variations of the drug that have dyes added to them to make them appear blue. This variation is often known as “Smurf Dope”.
There is a strange connection with meth and meat processing plants. It appears from the book "Methland" (by Nick Reding) that workers in such plants in the States have been known to take meth to keep them alert and sharp during their shifts in highly physical and pressurised jobs.
It is a harmful and potentially devastating drug, highly addictive and with some nasty side effects. Aging skin as blood vessels become constricted and destroyed after long term use, dried out salivary glands causing tooth decay to set in and a not so pretty smile (also known as Meth mouth) are some of the not so pretty side effects. Also, hallucinations including imagining insects under the skin to the point of picking holes is a regular feature for the meth addict.
The drug is an appetite suppressant so many meth addicts lose a lot of weight to the point of anorexia and emaciation.
And of course in Breaking Bad the effects of being involved in the criminal world of drugs had its own consequences with numerous murders and deaths.
We recommend that you stay away from the drug and why not try our Cook your own blue meth recipe instead!