"CRYSTAL brings out so much hate in a person. "It can take a beautiful soul and turn it into your worst nightmare. It is life's worst enemy!"
~ A meth addict's partner
• Last updated December 18, 2006 (We regret that some elements of this section may be out of date)
METHAMPHETAMINE is a highly potent form of speed. Just one hit seriously affects the brain's natural chemistry and, when abused, the cardiovascular and central nervous systems become severely damaged, impairing the functioning of the heart, brain and spinal cord. Amphetamine was first synthesised from ephedrine in 1887 by German chemist L. Edeleano. In Japan in 1919, amphetamine was chemically altered and developed into methamphetamine by Akira Ogata (1887-1978), where it was distributed for mass consumption as a central nervous system stimulant.
In 1932, Smith, Kline & French marketed Benzedrine, an over-the-counter bronchial dilator and inhaler with nearly a third of a gram of amphetamine sulfate - which mimics the effects of meth but is less potent and damaging - to treat nasal congestion. Several years later, SKF developed and marketed the popular amphetamine drugs Dexedrine and Dexamyl. The latter combined amobarbital with Dexedrine and is considered the most addicting amphetamine-barbiturate combination ever developed because of the unique interaction of its components.
By 1936, Benzedrine was the standard treatment for 39 disorders ranging from asthma to depression, but by the end of the decade abuse of the inhalers had reached such alarming proportions that amphetamine sulfate was replaced by the weaker stimulant, propyl-hexedrine. Injectable amphetamines, manufactured by Burroughs-Wellcome as Methedrine, were also available and often dangerously used to help bring patients out of anesthesia. The only competition for SKF's Benzedrine was Abbot Labs' Desoxyn, which contained methamphetamine and which it contiunes to manufacture to this day. In the 1960s, Abbot combined Desoxyn with pentobarbital to produce the prescription drug Desbutal.
When the going gets tough, the tough take Benzedrine proclaimed pharmaceutical company ads featuring images of GIs charging into combat during World War II, which was fought by all sides on amphetamine-derived stimulants. In total, over two hundred million amphetamine-variant pills were routinely supplied to American air force personnel alone and to British troops, Japanese Kamikaze pilots on suicide missions and Nazi storm troopers and concentration camp guards to combat fatigue, heighten endurance and elevate mood, as well as inducing emotional detachment and quasi-psychotic aggression.
With World War II fueled by amphetamines, it is perhaps not surprising that Adolf Hitler himself was said to be unable to function without daily injections of near-fatal doses of Benzedrine from 1942, which were administered by his morphine-crazed physician, Dr. Theodor Morell.
It can only be speculated how methamphetamine may have affected the Führer's mind, serving to undermine his health, corrupt his judgement, steer his insanity and, ultimately, affect the course of the war. Certainly, in his final years, the dictator was a ruined husk of a man. Looking at least 20 years older with his sallow skin and glaucous eyes, he was stooped, shambling, drooling, trembling and incoherent, and exhibited acute signs of Parkinson's disease - all classic symptoms of chronic meth dependency.
After the war, amphetamine-addicted war veterans who had difficulty readapting to civilian life would continue to seek out Benzedrine, while surplus supplies maufactured by Japaese pharmaceutical companies for the war effort were dumped onto civilian markets and advertised as an energising drug, leading to the first epidemic of its kind when Benzedrine was administered to Japanese factory workers to increase output. By 1954, two million Japanese were addicted.
By the early 1950s, amphetamines were increasingly being linked to antisocial behaviour in the US such as robbery and drug trafficking, leading to Benzedrine being withdrawn from over-the-counter sale. John F. Kennedy, a strong supporter of controls on amphetamines, was himself a registered user - along with an entire pharmacopeia of mood-altering drugs - up until his death in 1963. In 1965, Congress introduced the Drug Abuse Control Amendment into the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act, requiring a presciption for barbituates and amphetamines and resulting in a steep rise in legal prescriptions of methamphetamine. Violatiors of this new ruling faced one year in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.
The 1960s saw the rise of women's fashion magazines like Cosmopolitan and Vogue and the emergence of the first supermodel, Twiggy. Page after page of stick thin models exploited and fed the irrational misconception of obesity among normal-sized women, sending the demand for weight loss products soaring. In 1967 alone, 31 million methamphetamine prescriptions were written, 80% of which were for women to treat weight problems and depression. By this time, the dangerous aspects of methamphetamine had led to hippy culture stigmatising the drug wth the slogan Speed kills!
"We live with anorexia today because of [meth]."
~ Patricia Case [Harvard Professor of Social Science]
Ten billion amphetamine-variant tablets were legally manufacturered in 1970 catering for 23.3 million prescriptions for "uppers" filed that year - the year the US federal government finally criminalised the drug for most uses with the Uniform Controlled Substance Act, although it took another 18 months or so before amphetamines, and combinations drugs containing amphetamines were placed in the most tightly regulated category, Schedule II. Prosecutions for non-prescriptive use of the drug followed, even though the Pentagon continued dispensing pharmaceutical-grade amphetamine to troops in Vietnam, and 393 brand-name drugs available to American consumers continued to list amphetamine as a key ingredient.
"In many ways, our society has unleashed a Frankenstein-type monster over which we seemingly have no control."
~ Claude Pepper [Florida Congressman, 1969]
The crackdown heralded the re-emergence in popularity of cocaine and a flourish of illicit methamphetamine production, which intensified in the late 1970s. In 1980, the US government imposed strict controls on some of the more obscure chemicals and specialised equipment that was being used mainly by biker gangs to make methamphetamine at the time, serving to virtually eliminate the problem.
Several years later, a new way was found to synthetically replicate methamphetamine's chemical structure using cheap, volatile, highly toxic over-the-counter substances and chemicals, resulting in the most dangerously potent grade to date being mass-produced in clandestine labs. Sold under street names including crystal meth, tina, ice, base, glass, crank and devil's medicine, the dirty white glass shard-like crystals are often bulked up with fillers and as little as 45% pure, and contain the precursor chemicals
pseudoephedrine, iodine crystals and red phosphorous, and a combination of acetone, alcohol, ammonia, anhydrous, antifreeze, brake cleaner, coffee filters, denatured alcohol, drain cleaner, engine starter fluid, ether, farm fertiliser, gasoline additives, hydrochloric acid, lantern fuel, lead acetate, lithium batteries, lye, matchstick ends, methanol, muriatic acid, paint thinner, propane, rat poison, rubber tubing, sodium hydroxide, sodium metal, sulfuric acid, salt and tolene. Where one or more ingredients are unavailable, "meth cooks" will substitute with common household products.
A new wave of pharmaceutical variants which mimic the effects of street meth are also legally available this time around, including Ritalin (methylphenidate), Adderall (d-amphetamine/Dexedrine and dl-amphetamine/Benzedrine) and, of course, Desoxyn (methamphetamine hydrochloride) which never went away, and which is prescribed to treat, respectively, acute attention deficit and hyperactivity (ADHD), narcolepsy and weight disorders. Desoxyn is methamphetamine in all but name and is usually the drug of last resort for runaway ADHD.
All amphetamines in any form are Schedule II Controlled Subatances in the US, and prescription regulations are uniform across the States which, per head of the population, has more people hooked on prescription and street drugs that cause the mind to speed ahead of itself than anywhere else in ther world... [See Meth in the USA]