Methamphetamine abuse: a perfect storm of complications

by Lineberry TW, Bostwick JM.
Department of Psychiatry and Psychology,
Mayo Clinic College of Medicine,
200 First St SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.
[email protected]
Mayo Clin Proc. 2006 Jan;81(1):77-84.


Previously restricted primarily to Hawaii and California, methamphetamine abuse has reached epidemic proportions throughout the United States during the past decade, specifically in rural and semirural areas. Particular characteristics of methamphetamine production and use create conditions for a “perfect storm” of medical and social complications. Unlike imported recreational drugs such as heroin and cocaine, methamphetamine can be manufactured locally from commonly available household ingredients according to simple recipes readily available on the Internet. Methamphetamine users and producers are frequently one and the same, resulting in both physical and environmental consequences. Users experience emergent, acute, subacute, and chronic injuries to neurologic, cardiac, pulmonary, dental, and other systems. Producers can sustain life-threatening injuries in the frequent fires and explosions that result when volatile chemicals are combined. Partners and children of producers, as well as unsuspecting first responders to a crisis, are exposed to toxic by-products of methamphetamine manufacture that contaminate the places that serve simultaneously as “lab” and home. From the vantage point of a local emergency department, this article reviews the range of medical and social consequences that radiate from a single hypothetical methamphetamine-associated incident.