Methamphetamine (or meth) is a drug that stimulates the central nervous system. It is often seen in the form of a white powder with a bitter taste or a pill. It is also sold as crystal meth, which can look like glass fragments or shiny rocks with a bluish hue. Chemically, methamphetamine is similar to amphetamine, a drug that is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. 
People can use methamphetamine by smoking it and inhaling the vapours; swallowing it in pill form; snorting it in powder form; or dissolving it in water or alcohol and injecting it into the bloodstream. The high provided by meth starts quickly, but also fades quickly, often leading to users taking repeated doses in a “binge and crash” pattern over a short period of time. The drug rapidly increases the level of dopamine in the brain, resulting in increased wakefulness and physical activity; decreased appetite; rapid breathing; rapid or irregular heartbeat; and increased blood pressure and body temperature. 
+ WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF METHAMPHETAMINE?
Amphetamine-type stimulants were first developed as synthetic alternatives to the ephedra plant, which has been used in Chinese medicine for more than 5,000 years. Methamphetamine was difficult to produce until 1919, when a Japanese chemist was able to streamline the process. During the Second World War, meth was used by both the Axis and Allied troops to stay awake on the front lines. It was also used early on as a treatment for narcolepsy and asthma, and as a weight-loss drug. It was eventually outlawed in the United States in the 1970s. 
+ WHAT ARE THE DANGERS OF PRODUCING METH?
Methods of producing methamphetamine involve chemicals that are toxic, caustic and/or corrosive, posing significant danger to those making the drug. However, these chemicals are also highly flammable and explosive, meaning that the risk spreads to the nearby community.  Even after a meth lab is shut down, the danger remains for law enforcement officials and those contracted to clean up the area, as chemical residues can stay behind for months, and traces of these chemicals can get into walls, drapes, furniture and carpets. 
Some signs of a residence being used as a meth lab include:
- Blacked-out windows.
- Excessive amounts of trash that include containers for chemicals such as antifreeze, batteries and drain cleaner.
- Unusual strong odors such as cat urine, ammonia, acetone or other chemicals.
- Hoses hanging from windows, or open windows vented with fans during the winter.
- Extensive security measures.
- Visitors at odd hours.
- Secretive or paranoid occupants.  
+ WHAT ARE THE LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF METHAMPHETAMINE USE?
As with other drugs that are injected into the bloodstream, people who inject meth are at an increased risk of contracting diseases like HIV and hepatitis that are spread through contact with blood and other bodily fluids. 
As well, users can develop severe dental problems, sometimes referred to as “meth mouth.” This is characterized by severe tooth decay and gum disease, often resulting in teeth turning black, breaking and/or falling out. This is likely due to psychological and physiological changes brought on by meth use, including dry mouth; cravings for sugary beverages; a tendency to grind or clench teeth; and long periods of poor oral hygiene. The drug itself is also acidic. 
Other long-term effects of meth use may include:
- extreme weight loss;
- intense itching, leading to sores from scratching;
- sleeping problems;
- violent behavior;
- reduced co-ordination; and
- impaired verbal learning. 
+ HOW DOES METHAMPHETAMINE CONTRIBUTE TO PROPERTY CRIMES?
As Staff Sgt. Cory Both of ALERT Medicine Hat points out in ALERT’s 2017-18 Annual Report, drug users are more likely to commit property crimes, including breaking into homes and vehicles throughout the community to steal goods that they can pawn to get money to buy their next hit. “Anecdotally, we know that almost 100 per cent of the [break-and-enters] and property offences we see locally are tied to those involved in the drug community, and specifically in the methamphetamine trade,” Both says. 
ALERT and the Medicine Hat Police Service teamed up in September 2017 for Operation Suppression, during which 20 people were arrested and charged with drug-related offences, while 29 people faced charges relating to stolen property.