What to look out for when buying a house – Methamphetamine

If you live in New Zealand, we’re positive you’ve heard of the illegal substance methamphetamine before.

Amphetamine was discovered by Barger and Dale over 100 years ago. It wasn’t until 1927 that the amphetamine molecule was first synthesised by a chemist named G.A. Alles while he was searching for a cheaper and more easily synthesised substitute for ephedrine. Alles experimented with amphetamine on animals and humans and revealed that amphetamine had the ability to reverse drug-induced anesthesia and produce arousal and insomnia.

With this, the pharmaceutical drug known as Benzedrine was manufactured, which can be purchased for the treatment of narcolepsy, mild depression, post-encephalitic parkinsonism and a variety of other disorders.

Methamphetamine, just like amphetamine, was developed as an alternative to the ephedra plant, a plant that has an active ingredient called ephedrine. it was originally developed by a Japanese chemist named Akira Ogata, which resulted in creating a more efficient method of making meth.

In 1939 during World War II, many German soldiers and Japanese factory workers took the drug to allow them to stay awake and work long hours. Following this came the recreational use and abuse of amphetamine in the 1950s, which caused serious consequences in users, such as paranoid behaviour, heart problems and delusions. It wasn’t until the 1980s that governments began to regulate the chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine.

Methamphetamine is not a new drug by all means, however, it has become much more powerful in recent times as manufacturing techniques have evolved. Meth started to appear in New Zealand media in 2015, and our first decontamination standard was released in 2017.

Health Implications of methamphetamine use

Short term health effects:

  • Headaches
  • Watery or burning eyes
  • Nausea
  • Burning skin
  • Coughing or choking
  • Pain in the diaphram
  • Feeling of coldness or weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Decrease in cognitive function
  • Vertigo
  • Convulsions
  • Sleep disorders

Long term health effects:

  • Cancer
  • Nervous disorders or tremors
  • Damage to kidneys and liver
  • Birth defects
  • Reproductive problems
  • Death

What is the hype?

  • In 2001 New Zealand was second to Thailand for the highest meth use in the world.
  • The Ministry of Healthy indicated that meth was used by 1.1% of the New Zealand population in 2013/2014. These people aged from 16 – 64 and equaled approximately 40,000 people.
  • Results from over 5,000 tests which we have conducted, show that 35% of meth tests come back positive after independent laboratory testing.
  • The meth testing lab has indicated that in 2017, 15% of the samples they analyse are over the New Zealand guideline.

What are the signs a property might have been a meth lab?

  • Yellowish discolourations on walls, drains, sinks and showers
  • Blueish discolourations of taps and random fire extinguishers
  • Fire detectors are removed or have tape over them
  • Burning in eyes, itchy throat, metallic taste in the mouth, breathing problems when in the house
  • Strong odour similar to the smell of cat urine or ammonia
  • Bleach stains on carpet, dark stains in sinks (yellow, purple or red)
  • Burn piles in the yard
  • Apperance of not caring such as graffiti on walls
  • Most of the time meth is odourless, but while it’s being cooked it has the smell of burning plastic

What are the signs someone has smoked meth on a property?

  • Ask the neighbours the following questions: are the curtains always or often closed? are there excessive numbers of people coming and going? is there random behaviour such as not seeing the occupants for days?
  • Unwell feelings when entering the house
  • Not many furnishings within the house
  • Rubbish and or graffiti around as signs of unmotivated people
  • Light bulbs have been removed

The only way to be sure whether a house is contaminated with methamphetamine is by carrying out laboratory analysed testing. Unfortunately, there is no one suburb, region, or house type, that is more popular to meth manufacturers or users. Any property could be a meth house.

When looking at purchasing a property we recommend carrying out a meth test every time. Our inspectors can provide this service, call our customer services centre today 0800 422 388.