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The Mystery of 'Meth Mouth' (4/2/10)

       Long-term use of meth can take a heavy toll on a person, of course, but few examples of meth wear-and-tear are as graphic as the sort of severe tooth deterioration shown above. (Photo from

      Usually the mainstream 'authorities' will tell you that this happens because of all the horrible, toxic chemicals used to make meth, like drain clog removers.  The real story is a bit more complicated, so hold down your lunch and let's talk tooth science!

     Bacteria like to live on our teeth, since they get fed whenever we eat.  In order to make sure they can (literally) stick around in the mouth the bacteria turn sugar into the sticky stuff we know as plaque.  The metabolism of the bacteria creates a lot of acid as a waste product.

      The outer layer of a tooth (the white part we see) is enamel.  The enamel is mostly a crystal of calcium phosphate, which acid can slowly eat away.  Our body's main defense against this damage is saliva, which helps to wash away the acid being produced by bacteria before it can do too much damage.  That's why sugar-free gum can actually help prevent tooth decay:  Chewing gum increases saliva production.  Our main behavioral defense is brushing our teeth, since brushing can remove most of the bacteria and plaque that have built up during the day.

      Heavy meth use is a sort of perfect storm for tooth destruction.  It reduces saliva production (part of a water-conserving stress response that also contributes to hyponatremia deaths among ecstasy users), making it easier for acid levels to build up.   People on a binge tend to have lousy nutrition (sugary drinks like soda seem to be particularly popular), and personal hygiene tends to be neglected (so the bacterial population isn't being held in check by brushing.)  Heavy meth users tend not to visit a dentist, either for regular checkups (or even when there clearly is deterioration.)  As a result, the bacteria are free to run wild, creating a lot of acid to break down the user's teeth.

      'Meth mouth' can happen no matter how you get the drug into your system, although smoking probably makes things even worse, since the meth itself contains some acid.  (The acid acts like tiny magnets, holding the meth molecules together into crystals.  If you removed the acid, you would have methamphetamine freebase, which is an oily liquid; a bit hard to transport and sell.)

      Stimulants like meth (and ecstasy, for that matter) also tend to cause bruxism (clenching and grinding your teeth.)  This can wear down enamel by itself, can create grooves in your teeth that make a great hiding place for bacteria to grow in, and in severe cases can even crack the enamel (after all, it's a crystal.)

      If you're going to use meth (or any other drug), I think the best advice is to be very careful about the frequency of use creeping up over time.   Addiction doesn't simply leap into existence over-night.   Nobody gets addicted from one dose.   Instead, you get hooked a little bit at a time, slowly and subtly enough that you usually don't even notice it's happening until it's too late.

      The only entirely safe drug use is not to use.  If you do use, safer drug use means limiting dosages and the frequency of use.   Pay attention to how often you use, how much you take, and whether you're getting cravings to use.   If your usage (or side effects) creep upwards over time, take a break for several months.  If that seems like too much of a sacrifice, that's all the more reason to be afraid of where things might be going.



• Marijuana is America's most valuable crop (ABC News story) (12/10/06)

What's NeXT? The mother of all Ecstasy studies begins to bear fruit (12/1/06)

Researchers:  Smokers are Stupid (9/15/06)

US Government: Anti-Drug Ads Ineffective (8/27/06)

Merck Pharmaceuticals digs the lost history of MDMA (Ecstasy) out of their archives (8/23/06)

Depressed, Anxious Children More Likely To Try 'Ecstasy' (1/1/06)

Supreme Court Unanimously Upholds Use of Psychedelic Tea (Ayahuasca) (2/21/06)

'Ecstasy' Addict consumed ~40,000 Pills Over Nine Years (1/26/06)

People Who Don't Use 'Ecstasy' More Likely To Become Violent Criminals (1/12/06)

Drug Enforcement Agency Sets New Record For Efficacy: 1% (1/2/06)

City of Denver Legalizes Marijuana (11/3/05)

The curious case of the missing 'date rape drug' victims (9/15/05)

Could marijuana be bad for bones? (6/6/05)

The Genetics of an Ecstasy Hangover (5/4/05)

Canada to test giving away heroin to addicts (2/16/05)

Blowing 'Vicks' in eyes associated with eye injury (1/19/05)

Two batches of cocaine pills found (12/29/04)

A troubling case of 'ecstasy' induced heatstroke (10/19/04)

"Research Chemical" trade attacked by DEA (7/25/04)

Evidence of MDMA-induced damage to brain cells (5/22/04)

Monkeys allowed to self-administer 'Ecstasy' do not show brain damage (4/3/04)

Western Australia Decriminalizes Marijuana (3/26/04)

Russia Decriminalizes Drug Possession (3/13/04)

Netherlands to Expand Free Heroin Program (3/13/04)

PMA, PMMA spotted in US (2/23/04)

Strange Days at Monitoring the Future (1/02/04)

Well, That Explains the Soft Spots (12/11/03)

Heavy Users of 'Ecstasy' May Be At Greater Risk of Heart Disease (11/09/03)

Ricaurte Confesses: Infamous 'Ecstasy Causes Parkinson's' Research Was A Fake! (9/10/03)

'Ecstasy' Pills Getting Weaker (8/6/03)

RAVE Act II Surfaces (8/04/03)

"Constitutional Right to Marijuana" Alaskan Judge Rules (7/7/03)

Researchers Looking for Memory Problems in "Ecstasy" Users Come Up Dry (6/01/03)

Researchers fail to find signs of any lasting harm to heavy "Ecstasy" (MDMA) user's brains. (3/12/03)



Would you believe this web site is almost 14 years old? Even back in the day it was a simple, cludged together thing; a first attempt by somebody who'd never made a web site before. It's ugly, poorly organized, and dated. It's time for the current design to go away. So, I'm happy to say, a full site rebuild has begun (complete with a budget and the help of a real web designer!) It's hard to say when it will be ready (there's a lot of work to do), but the future looks something like this: Test site design (non-functional.)


Ask The DEA: Is is safe to mix MDMA (ecstasy, molly) with nitrous oxide?

Dear Reader: Nitrous oxide has a generally good safety profile by itself, but one possible concern comes to mind. Nitrous oxide depletes vitamin B12, a nutrient essential for brain health. As a result, heavy nitrous use can cause a sort of malnutrition that can be harmful to the brain. The solution is simply to take a B12 supplement.

That being said, I don't see any obvious unusual danger from combining MDMA (ecstasy, molly) with nitrous; it appears to fall into the same 'generally safe' category as marijuana. If I were using nitrous with MDMA in any significant amount I would add some B12 to the usual antioxidant (vitamin C and E) preloading routine.

As always, safer drug use means less drug use. Higher doses, more frequent use, and mixing drugs all generally increases the possibility of health problem.


Still Alive (7/2/16)

As Hunter S. Thompson may have once said, "You can turn your back on a person, but never turn your back on a drug web site, especially when its waving a razor sharp hunting knife in your eye."

Or something like that. At any rate, some small updates and improvements are coming. To you, the readers who have found my little project useful, I thank you for your patience. :-)


Mini-update (4/29/10)

      Well, I'm done rounding up research; about 500 documents in all, dripping with dense academic-speak, tables and charts.   For science geeks, there's been some cool stuff in the past few years (like a researcher who threw ecstasy-fueled orgies for his lab mice to see if the drug would affect how easily they caught herpes from each other.)   There seems to have been a lot of development in our understanding of how exactly drugs like MDMA release neurotransmitters, which is exciting.  They don't seem to be much closer to cracking the neurotoxicity mechanism, though.   So far I haven't seen anything that would invalidate the opinions and advice currently on this site, but everything is up for review.

       Also missing is the yet-to-be-published results of the landmark MAPS study on using MDMA to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (the severe anxiety and other problems caused by violent crime, combat, etc.)  By all accounts the results have been extremely positive, with most of the patients actually cured.  Given that PTSD is one of the hardest psychological problems to treat and they specifically chose patients that conventional treatment had been unable to help, that's nothing short of miraculous.   Barring something very unexpected, MDMA is well on its way to becoming a (very tightly controlled) prescription medication.

      On a web technology note, I hope to eliminate the use of Flash on this site over the coming year, as well as standardize on H.264 for videos, embedded with HTML 5.    Flash has always been a bit of a pig; there just weren't any good alternatives before.  I'm changing the standard font as well to try to make it easier on the eyes.


Death and Taxes (3/8/2010)

      As some smartass once observed, life is what happens while you're busy making other plans.  Life...happened to me.   Some good things, some bad things, but always the inescapable forward movement common to all humanity, much like a man falling to his death (whether death by old age or some more dramatic means.)  I feel a little stupid right now; not so much in the usual metaphorical sense of being embarrassed (although there's a bit of that too for having let this site lay fallow for so long) so much as literally stupid.   Several years of research in the field have gone by while I was distracted elsewhere.  My knowledge has rusted a bit.  (I find myself in the amusing position of re-reading my own web site to re-educate myself about what I once knew so well.)

       It will likely be a while (months, at the least) before any significant movement happens with this site; there's too much to catch up on right now, and I still have many other demands on my time.   But...I'm back.

      To the people who have encouraged me to return to this rather strange project, I thank you.


Celebrating the Season: 12-24  (12/19/06)

    Ah, the Christmas season, when millions of people commemorate the birth of a Jewish messiah with ham dinners and tree worship during the Winter Solstice*.  If you aren't particularly religious, there's still some reason to celebrate.  On Christmas Eve of 1912 the German pharmaceutical giant Merck filed a patent for a new chemical:  3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, known today around the world as 'ecstasy'.  Sadly, many decades passed before it was discovered to be psychoactive.  Had they known, 1912 could have had a very merry holiday season indeed.

     So, raise a toast to some long-dead German chemists; MDMA turns 94 years old this Christmas Eve.

*Dec 25th was traditionally regarded as the winter solstice; it actually occurs on the 22nd this year.



'Keep our Community Pure: Join the KKK!' (12/1/06)

We Love Japan! (And will burn in hell for it...) (10/17/06)

D.E.A. Agent Shoots Self in Foot, Sues (4/12/06)

The Strangely Silent Majority (4/4/06)

Peru: To Hell and Back (National Geographic) (3/6/06)

Why Whitey Don't Freeze (2/22/06)

A Force for Evil (1/18/06) Space! (10/18/05)

Official Web Site of the US Government (6/6/05)

Ho Ho...Hmm. (12/19/04)

The cookie that bit back (10/18/04)

The $15,000,000 Man (4/11/04)

The Trouble with Democracy (2/28/04)

My Favorite Cowards (1/21/04)

A Useful Lie (11/21/03)

Mister, That Dog Ain't Right (11/05/03)

Rush To Judgment (10/11/03)

"Talk To Frank" Staff Dumber Than Pithed Frogs (9/13/03)

Link: US DEA's Microgram Bulletin.

"Go not gentle into that good night." (7/23/03)

Lax Canadian Laws Threaten US (6/27/03)

Your Dog on Drugs (6/16/03)

ASCII (text) Art Cows from 1989.

(Not everything gets archived.)