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The shocking effects of dangerous drug in just 18 months

THESE are the shocking images of the toll crystal meth takes on the body in the space of just a year and a half.

The highly addictive drug can be smoked, snorted, injected or swallowed.

Its profile has risen in popular culture with the 2010 movie Winter's Bone, which depicted the effects of crystal meth on poor communities in rural America.

The drug also features prominently in the series Breaking Bad, a US drama which depicts a chemistry teacher making the drug to raise funds for his family.

Known as 'ice' or 'glass', it has had a devastating social impact on communities where it has gained a foothold.

This is due to the potent power of the drug, which has effects that last up to 10 hours, experts say.

Physical effects of the drug include an increase in aggression and paranoia and severe heart and nerve damage in longterm users.

Despite this, the drug is cheaper than heroin or cocaine, fuelling fears that it will become popular among hardened drug users in Dublin.

In the US the drug has traditionally been produced, since its emergence in the 1990s, in small-scale 'meth factories'.

To do so users 'cook' methamphetamine with other chemicals. A number of powerful chemicals are required, and explosions are commonplace.

It is unclear how many such operations are in place in Dublin.