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Methamphetamine Facts, History, and Statistics

Methamphetamine (meth) is an addictive stimulant with a varied history of use and abuse. This page will explore the history of methamphetamine, meth facts, and statistics about meth.

What Is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine (meth) is a highly addictive stimulant drug that impacts the central nervous system. It was originally synthesized for therapeutic use but now is found predominantly as a recreational drug of abuse. It is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystal-like powder that dissolves in liquid.2

Though it is a drug that is FDA-approved and prescribed for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obesity under the name Desoxyn, methamphetamine’s illicit use greatly surpasses its intended consumption.1,2 Meth is abused for its stimulant and euphoric effects.1

Methamphetamine Drug Names

Methamphetamine is sometimes prescribed in pill form. Street versions of the drug are available in pills or as white powder and are referred to by a long list of slang names, such as:1,3

  • Crank/krank.
  • Beanies.
  • Brown.
  • Mexican crack.
  • Redneck cocaine.
  • Speed.
  • Tweak.

Illicitly manufactured methamphetamine is also available on the street with an appearance resembling translucent white or blue shattered shards of glass. Although similar, if not identical in chemical composition, this form is frequently called crystal methamphetamine (crystal meth), and it goes by street names including:3

  • Blade.
  • Crystal.
  • Batu.
  • Ice.
  • Quartz.
  • Glass.

Crystal meth is frequently smoked in a glass pipe. Most forms of meth can be crushed into powder form, which is then snorted, swallowed, or dissolved into solution and injected.3

History of Methamphetamine

Who invented meth? There is a long history of meth, and this section will cover the invention of meth and on through current meth drug facts.

Origin of Methamphetamine: When Was Meth Invented?

Compared to other manmade drugs of abuse, methamphetamine is very old. Its chemical progenitor drug—amphetamine—was first produced in the late 1880s in Germany. About 30 years later, Japan began making a more powerful, chemically modified version of the drug called methamphetamine.

During World War II, many soldiers from both sides of the battle lines were using the drug for its stimulant effects in attempts to stay alert and focused during long battles and periods of calm. Notably, Japanese Kamikaze pilots were given methamphetamine prior to their missions.

When the war ended, Japan was inundated with the surplus supply of the drug, which lead to wide-range intravenous meth abuse in the country.

In the post-war U.S., methamphetamine was medically approved to treat depression and, additionally, was prescribed as a weight loss aid.

During the same time, many people used the drug for non-medical reasons such as:

  • Staying up to study for tests.
  • Keeping alert and focused when driving long distances.
  • Improving abilities in feats of strength and athletic completion.

With rates of abuse peaking during the 1960s, the decision was made by the government to restrict and regulate methamphetamine, which made it illegal for most uses in 1971.

Due to continued demand by the public, gangs began to control the manufacturing and circulation of the drug until the 1990s, when drug trafficking organizations based in Mexico and the American southwest began creating larger batches of the drug with higher potencies.

Current Use of Meth in America

Currently, methamphetamine is sometimes produced in “super labs” that house professional-grade equipment to produce the drug at higher quantities and quality. However, more regularly, methamphetamine is produced in “home labs” or “stove tops,” where a few people will produce small amounts of the substance.

Who’s Abusing Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is a commonly viewed as a dangerous substance when used in non-medical situations. Despite the dangers, use remains widespread in the U.S. In the U.S., the Drug Enforcement Administration reports that, in 2021:

  • Only 8,000 prescriptions for methamphetamine were dispensed.
  • 2.5 million people (0.9%) reported using meth in the past 12 months.
  • 0.6% of people 12 and older (1.6 million people) had a methamphetamine use disorder.
  • Around 32,537 people overdosed on psychostimulants (primarily meth) and died.

The Methamphetamine Market

The market for methamphetamine is large across various regions of the world. Since legitimate production of the substance is so uncommon, very little of the amount abused comes from diverted legitimate prescriptions; it comes from illicit manufacturing instead.

Methamphetamine has been a billion-dollar industry in the U.S. for years, worth an estimated $13 billion in 2010, down from a high of $23 billion in 2005.

The $13 billion spent annually on methamphetamine equates to a relatively high price per gram. Counterintuitively, the most money was made from the substance when it was cheapest in 2005. Since then, the drug recovered in price, then dropped to $328 per one quarter of a gram in 2010.

Is Methamphetamine Illegal?

Only people who receive one of the 8,000 yearly prescriptions for methamphetamine can use it legally.

The substance is a schedule II-controlled substance, which means the Drug Enforcement Administration imposes restrictions, including:

  • Limits on manufacturing.
  • Constraints on how prescriptions can be filled and refilled.
  • Greater consequences for illegal usage, manufacturing, and distribution.

Because of its relative ease of production with inexpensive materials, ingredients needed for methamphetamine manufacturing—such as pseudoephedrine, a common ingredient in many cold medicine formulations—were made more difficult to obtain, especially in large quantities. These medicines are no longer available for unmonitored, over-the-counter sale in an attempt to limit their availability for use in methamphetamine production.

Because of the drug’s legal status, authorities are active in tracking and seizing large quantities of meth.

How Dangerous Is Methamphetamine?

Directly and indirectly, methamphetamine is a dangerous substance and carries physical, psychological, and social risks.

Physical Risks

Meth abuse can lead to many physical health issues, including:

  • High heart rate.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Weight loss.
  • Skin picking.
  • Skin infection or abscess (esp. if used intravenously).
  • Elevated body temperature.
  • Poor dental health—known as “meth mouth.”
  • Convulsions.
  • Stroke.
  • Death.

Psychological Risks

Meth use can lead to many mental health issues, including:

These effects can be difficult to reverse.

Find Meth Rehab Near Me

If you or a loved one is struggling with meth addiction, help is available, and recovery is possible. Treatment can start anyone battling a substance use problem on the path to a healthier and happier life. Rehab programs are located throughout the U.S., and a variety of treatment types is available. When it comes trying to find meth rehab near me, you can use our directories tool. It allow you to search by keywords and location so you can find the right treatment center for you.

Meth use can wreak havoc on your mind and body. If you are struggling with an addiction to methamphetamine, don’t wait to find help. American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of addiction treatment programs and has trusted rehab facilities across the country. A caring AAC admissions navigator can assist you now. Please speak to one of our admissions navigators at —they will walk you through finding the help you deserve.

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