If you’ve never seen a meth house in person, your imagination probably conjures up a scary, dungeon-like basement with people in mad scientist garb standing over boiling pots. In truth, meth labs can be in everything from closets to cabins, RVs, caves, abandoned mines, and commercial buildings, but it’s the ones in residential houses that are of the most public concern. It’s not just something that happens on television – meth labs can absolutely blow up, taking out the house they’re located in and possibly damaging ones nearby. The combinations of flammable solvents, poorly ventilated areas, and the smallest spark can lead to a giant disaster.
How do you know if there’s a meth house in the area? If you’re looking for a new place to live, the last thing you want is to move in next to the neighborhood meth cookers. Odors can be a good indication, as the process of making meth gives off smells like ammonia or ether. These smells have been called similar to the smell of cat urine or rotten eggs. The windows might be covered or blacked out to prevent anyone passing by from seeing in. There may be unusual ventilation systems, or you’ll see that all the windows are open despite it being a cold day. Signs of increased security are common – it’s particularly telling if the house itself is in disrepair but has a great deal of security – such as Keep Out or No Trespassing signs and guard dogs. You also might see incriminating trash laying around, like empty containers of antifreeze, white gas, ether, starting fluids, Freon, lye, drain opener, paint thinner, acetone, alcohol, or other chemicals. Lithium batteries, packages of cold medication, plastic or rubber hoses, and protective gear like masks and gloves may also be an indication of what’s going on inside.
Perhaps even more worrisome than moving in near a meth house is ending up living in one. Much like cigarette smoke permeates walls and furniture, the dangerous chemicals that make up meth can linger in a house. It’s not just the room meth was made in that gets contaminated, either. If someone smoked it in other rooms of the house, it can get into the walls and furnishings.
There was one case in Indiana where a couple and their three kids moved into a new house, and before long the children began getting sick. After paying for an inspection, they discovered that the house had methamphetamine levels three times over the legal limit. It’s not clear what the long-term effects might be, but in the short term some of the side effects of exposure to meth are headache, nausea, and eye irritation.
You can pay for a meth inspection before you purchase a house, just like you would a regular home inspection. Special cleanup crews will rip out carpet, scrub air ducts, and throw away furniture if they discover that the house is contaminated. The DEA has a maponline with locations of known former drug labs.
If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504.