The following article appeared in yesterday's Glasgow Herald:
Warning over crystal meth link with cold remedies
CALUM MACDONALDApril 19 2006
SCOTTISH police forces have been warned to be on the lookout for people bulk-buying cold remedies as it may indicate they are making a lethal drug.
Use of crystal meth, which can be more dangerous than heroin and crack cocaine, is already widespread in the US and the United Nations has warned that it could become common in the UK.
It is a highly addictive stimulant which can be made by amateurs using household products and medicines.
Officials from the US Drug Enforcement Agency warned Scotland's most senior police officers at a conference in Ayrshire that they must monitor bulk sales of the kind of cold remedies that are used in the manufacture of meth.
In the US, where crystal meth is now the number one problem drug, there has been a proliferation of so-called "mom and pop" laboratories where users make the drug in domestic kitchens.
Once made, the drug, which was originally used by truck drivers and bikers in the US to stay awake, can be eaten, snorted, drunk or smoked.
Detective Superintendent Jill Woods, who organised the drugs conference for the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, said: "The labs are extremely dangerous, not just for the people who make the drugs, but also for the law enforcers who have to go in, as the chemicals used are highly volatile and likely to explode.
"Once people grasp the fact that crystal meth is so easy and cheap to make, the US experience has taught us that it has developed extremely rapidly."
Meth's ability to keep users awake and feeling euphoric for long periods of time has resulted in heavy use on the US gay dance scene. One of the biggest risks is from the increased chance of HIV infection through unprotected sex while under the influence of meth.
The liberating nature of the drug means that often safe sex is discarded while sexual activity increases greatly. It has been reported in the US that in almost half of the new Aids cases, crystal meth has been a factor. Overuse can bring on paranoia, short-term memory loss, wild rages and mood swings as well as damage to the immune system.
Overdosing can lead to severe convulsions followed by circulatory and respiratory collapse, coma and death. Some people have died after taking small doses.