What Is Meth Cut With? | Dangers Of Additives & Cutting Agents

Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

on December 9, 2022
Fikret Terzic

Written by: Fikret Terzic MD, MS

Meth can be cut with MSM, opioids, common household items, and other agents. These impurities may add harmful side effects to meth use, including a higher risk of overdose.

Methamphetamine can be cut with ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, caffeine, and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). These substances can be added to assist in making the drug, to increase the stimulant effects of meth, or to give meth a higher-quality appearance.

The presence of cutting agents depends on the form of methamphetamine. Meth can come in pill, powder, or rock (crystal meth) forms. All forms of meth are controlled substances with a high potential for substance abuse.

Snorting, smoking, or injecting meth cut with impurities can cause harmful side effects. Despite the innocuous nature of meth’s cutting ingredients, methamphetamine itself is still a dangerous drug, and improper meth use can be risky in any circumstance.

List Of Meth Adulterants

Several different impurities, cutting agents, and adulterants can be added to methamphetamine, each for different reasons and with varying effects.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

Methylsulfonylmethane, or MSM, is a natural chemical that is sold as a dietary supplement and anti-inflammatory product. During crystal meth production, MSM can be added to increase the volume of the drug.

Ephedrine & Pseudoephedrine

Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are two chemicals that can be used in meth production. Pseudoephedrine can be obtained easily as an over-the-counter decongestant. These chemicals may remain in methamphetamine after the process is complete.

The production of meth can release hazardous chemicals into the atmosphere, such as acetone, red phosphorus, ether, and lithium. These byproducts may be unlikely to end up in the drug itself, but can be dangerous to people who live near a meth lab.

Common Household Ingredients

Items such as baking soda and caffeine may be added to methamphetamine to increase the volume of the drug sold. These items are white powders, which are similar in appearance to meth powder. Meth powder can be mixed with these substances without drawing attention from the buyer.

Caffeine can also compound the stimulant effects of meth. The relatively low cost and stimulant effects of caffeine may contribute to its popularity as a cutting agent.


Opioids such as fentanyl can be mixed into meth powder, which can be used to form crystal meth. Mixing central nervous system depressants such as fentanyl with amphetamines can be highly dangerous.

In the state of Ohio, meth overdose deaths comprised 25% of all drug overdose deaths in 2021, up from only 5.8% in 2016. Fentanyl was involved in 80% of meth overdose deaths in 2021.

Overdosing on a combination of these drugs can lead to fatal side effects such as respiratory depression and cardiac arrest.

Risks Of Ingesting Meth With Cutting Agents

It can be difficult to identify cutting agents in meth until the drug is ingested. A person may not be aware they have ingested adulterants and impurities until side effects set in.

Effects Related To The Method Of Use

Swallowing meth and its adulterants can lead to meth mouth, a state of severe tooth decay and gum damage.

Injecting meth can cause solids to form blood clots in the body, which can increase blood pressure, block blood flow, and even lead to death.

Smoking crystal meth and its adulterants can lead to nosebleeds, nasal damage, and respiratory problems.

Serious Side Effects

Methamphetamine use has been linked to:

  • psychosis
  • weight loss
  • brain damage
  • memory loss

These side effects may remain after meth use stops.

Substance Use Disorder

Illicit drug use of meth and its cutting agents can be habit-forming. If you experience a decreased quality of life while continuing meth use, you may be suffering from a substance use disorder. 

A substance use disorder may be accompanied by dependence on meth, addiction, withdrawal symptoms, and cravings when trying to quit.

If you would like to reduce your meth use, you may benefit from a professional meth addiction treatment program. 

Contact Ohio Recovery Center to see if our quality inpatient treatment options, such as meth detox, mental health services, and aftercare planning, work for you or your loved one.

  1. Drug Enforcement Administration — Drug Fact Sheet: Methamphetamine https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Methamphetamine-2020_0.pdf
  2. Drugs and Alcohol — Adulterants, bulking agents and contaminants in illicit drugs. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/13973/
  3. Food and Drug Administration — Drug Fact Sheet: Methamphetamine https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Methamphetamine-2020_0.pdf
  4. Harm Reduction Ohio — Meth overdose deaths soar in Ohio...and not much is being done about it https://www.harmreductionohio.org/meth-overdose-deaths-soar-in-ohio-and-not-much-is-being-done-about-it/
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse — Methamphetamine DrugFacts https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine
  6. National Institute on Drug Abuse — How is methamphetamine manufactured? https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/how-methamphetamine-manufactured
  7. ScienceDirect — A review of the newly identified impurity profiles in methamphetamine seizures https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2589871X20300450

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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