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Meth: A History

A German lab created amphetamines in 1887. At first, it was named phenylisopropylamine by Lazăr Edeleanu, a Romanian chemist. It was originally used to deal with a wide range of medical conditions. But it was never really popularized as having medical use during the 1800s.

A Japanese chemist took the original creation a little further and developed meth in 1893. Nagai Nagayoshi synthesized a medication for low blood pressure, ephedrine. A pharmacologist, Akira Ogata, continued on modernizing the drug. In 1919, Ogata created crystal meth, which is also known as meth hydrocholoride.

Until the World War II era, methamphetamine and other amphetamines weren’t involved in the medical field at all. In 1934, five years before the war, an American pharmaceutical company used the drug as a decongestant. Smith, Kline, and French packaged the amphetamines as an inhaler and named it Benzedrine.

By 1939, war was taking all over the globe. The Allies (United States, United Kingdom, China, etc.) and the Axis forces (Germany, Italy, Japan) both used amphetamines as a war-time tool. After the German Fuhrer Adolph Hitler brought war to the world, both sets of forces used amphetamines as a way to stay sharp and awake during long and drawn-out battles.

Amphetamines were especially popular among aircraft personnel and members of tank crews. It provided them with proper energy to carry out long missions. American Air Force pilots were popular users of meth products during long bombing missions, but so were the Japanese. Not everyone used the same thing though. Germans commonly used something called Pervitin while the Japanese used Phiopon, which was a meth product.

After World War II, amphetamines truly became popular in America. First, Obetrol was developed as a diet drug. Other commonly prescribed amphetamines were Methedrine and Dexedrine. Dexedrine is actually still used today, quite frequently as an ADD medication.

During the 1960s, a black market for meth developed in order to satisfy the needs of the masses. There were concoctions to fight depression and to be used as a diet aid. The terrible effects of meth weren’t known yet. Addiction wasn’t a widespread disease and the harmful effects weren’t known. The effects of meth started to become a problem in the 1970s, though amphetamines were banned in 1971. The Controlled Substances Act listed meth as a schedule II controlled substance.

In the last 20 years, meth has literally become a household problem. Making meth in a house or garage is cheap and easy. It’s also relatively easy to hide. In the 2000s and 2010s, meth became a problem, which is proved by the 1.2 million people that used meth in the past year, according to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).