Methamphetamine

Doctors first synthesized methamphetamine in 1919 as a type of amphetamine used to treat tiredness and promote wakefulness. It was barely a decade before the stimulant, aka meth, entered wider use as a treatment for asthma, the common cold, and even mild depression. By the 1940s, signs of abuse were already emerging as famed beatnik poets popularized the recreational use of inhalers containing meth, and in the ’50s, this drug was often being taken by athletes, truck drivers, and even homemakers who had no medical reason to use it.

Even as the nation’s lawmakers moved to regulate meth strictly, the spread of illicit meth had already begun, manufactured and sold by biker gangs in the 1960s. The intense stimulation and cheap high offered by meth slowly fueled an epidemic of addiction, one which exploded across the nation in the late 1990s and 2000s. America has come to recognize that the health effects of abusing meth can be horrific and lasting – along with the scars left on our country.


1887

Amphetamines Discovered

Amphetamine was first synthesized in 1887 by the German chemist L. Edeleano.

Source: http://www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/drugs/amphetamines.pdf

1919

Discovery of Meth

Pharmacologist A. Ogata develops methamphetamine in Japan; the drug is used to treat fatigue and increase alertness.

Source: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/10/brewing-bad-the-all-natural-origins-of-meth/381045/

1929

Meth to Treat Asthma

U.S. physicians began using methamphetamine to treat patients suffering from narcolepsy and asthma.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2377281/

1932

Speed Inhalers

Benzedrine inhalers are introduced as an over-the-counter treatment for the common cold, as well as mild depression. Between 1932 and 1938, manufactures ship around 10 million Benzedrine inhalers nationwide.

Source: https://www.chemheritage.org/distillations/magazine/fast-times-the-life-death-and-rebirth-of-amphetamine

1939–1945

Meth Soldiers

Methamphetamine is given to bomber pilots to keep them alert during long flights. Amphetamines are used widely by soldiers to help battle fatigue and to “increase morale.”

Source: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/crystal-meth-origins-link-back-to-nazi-germany-and-world-war-ii-a-901755.html

1940s

Kerouac and Ginsberg Influence

Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg popularize the later-infamous inhalers among the beatnik crowd. The FDA bans inhalers in 1959 after negative effects become apparent.

Source: http://www.chemheritage.org/discover/media/magazine/articles/30-1-fast-times-the-life-death-and-rebirth-of-amphetamine.aspx?page=3

1950

"Pep Pills"

"Pep Pills" or "bennies," over-the-counter amphetamine-containing medications used to treat narcolepsy, obesity, and sinus inflammation, are widely used by truck drivers, college students, athletes, and homemakers throughout the 1950s.

Source: http://healthvermont.gov/adap/meth/brief_history.aspx

1959

First Reported Case of Abuse

Report of the first case of intravenous injection of the contents of a Benzedrine inhaler surfaces in the U.S.

Source: http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/appsych/chibps/meth

1960s

Meth to Treat Heroin Addiction

Doctors in San Francisco prescribe methamphetamine injections to treat heroin addiction.

Source: http://healthvermont.gov/adap/meth/brief_history.aspx

1965

Initial Illegality

7/15/1965



The DACA prohibits the unregistered possession, manufacture, or sale of amphetamines (unless for personal use of the possessor or member of their household).

Source: https://research.archives.gov/id/299906

Late 1960s

Biker Gangs

Biker gangs begin to illegally manufacture methamphetamine. The Hell's Angels (and other biker gangs) become responsible for close to 90% of all meth in circulation throughout the U.S.

Source: http://fas.org/irp/agency/doj/dea/product/meth/production.html

1970

Meth Regulations

10/27/1970



The Controlled Substances Act regulates methamphetamine; this classifies it as a Schedule II substance.

Source: https://www.dea.gov/druginfo/ds.shtml

1980s

Mexican Meth Trafficking

Mexican drug manufacturers get involved in the methamphetamine trafficking industry, bringing huge quantities north of the border.

Source: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/meth/etc/cron.html

Early 1990s

Meth Made in the USA

Methamphetamine begins being manufactured in home cook labs throughout the West and Midwest, mostly in rural areas. The potency of the product increases.

Source: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/meth/etc/cron.html

1996

Cold Medicine Crackdown

10/3/1996



Congress passes the Comprehensive Methamphetamine Control Act, which restricts the distribution of precursory chemicals. Lawmakers implement bans on pseudoephedrine. Manufacturing and usage declines (however briefly).

Source: https://www.ncjrs.gov/ondcppubs/publications/drugfact/methconf/appen-b6.html

Early 2000s

Cartels Fight for Meth Market

Cartel involvement increases as meth surpasses heroin, crack, and cocaine as the favored hard drug throughout most of the West and Northwest.

Source: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/meth/etc/cron.html

2006

Cold Medicine Criminals

3/9/2006



The Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 provides criminal penalties to those who purchase products containing more than 9 grams of pseudoephedrine or ephedrine. In 2006, DEA restrictions shift, and sellers are required to obtain the signature and identification of every individual who purchases any pseudoephedrine-containing product.

Source: http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/meth/cma2005.htm

The Most Abused Drug

The meth epidemic stretches far beyond the U.S. The U.N. World Drug Report notes that meth is the most abused hard drug in the world. 26 million people across the globe are addicted to meth – as many as the number of heroin and cocaine users combined.

Sources: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/meth/etc/cron.html

2008

"Breaking Bad" Series Premiere

1/20/2008



The television show “Breaking Bad” premieres. Among other things, the show portrays the horrors caused by meth addiction.

Source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0903747/episodes?year=2008&ref_=tt_eps_yr_2008

2009

Meth Border Seizures Rise

Seizures of Mexican meth coming across the Southwest border increase nearly fivefold between 2008 (2,282.6 kilograms)
and 2012 (10,636.5 kilograms).

The Mexican government bans the importation of pseudoephedrine altogether, causing the potency of meth being smuggled into the U.S. to plunge. Meth seizures at the Southwest border continue to increase.

Source: http://www.dea.gov/resource-center/DIR-017-13%20NDTA%20Summary%20final.pdf

Mom-and-Pop Labs

Mexican drug trafficking organizations begin ramping up meth production throughout California, changing the method of production from “super labs” to smaller “mom-and-pop labs.” California becomes the leading national meth producer.

Source: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/meth/etc/cron.html

2010

Meth: A Nationwide Problem



Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) drafts a bill to designate pseudoephedrine a prescription drug across the country. He cites the massive decrease in meth manufacturing in Oregon, saying the issue has been “all but eliminated.”

Source: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/meth/etc/cron.html

2011

Lobbying the States



Several of the states feeling the effects of meth (including more than a dozen in the Midwest and Southeast) toy with prescription-only legislation. However, lobbyists from the pharmaceutical industry shut down the possibility. In some other states, tracking systems are put in place to monitor behind-the-counter sales. But in Kentucky (the first state to take the plunge), rates do not decrease even two years after the system is implemented.

Source: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/meth/etc/cron.html

ER Visits Soar



Emergency room visits related to methamphetamine are on the rise. Between 2007 and 2011, visits jump from nearly 68,000 to almost 103,000. No major difference in visit rates exists between genders.

Source: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/DAWN_SR167_EDVisitsMeth_06-12-14/DAWN-SR167-EDVisitsMeth-2014.pdf

2013

Meth Use Peaks



Methamphetamine use is higher in 2013, with 595,000 current users, compared with 353,000 users in 2010.

Source: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/nationwide-trends

2016

Unstoppable Wave

1/12/2016



Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics agents discover the largest meth conversion lab ever in the state. Agents seize 121 pounds of meth.

Source: http://kfor.com/2016/01/12/meth-conversion-lab-discovered-in-oklahoma-city-agents-seize-121-pounds-of-meth/