Crystal Meth History


Crystal Meth History

Crystal methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that "typically is smoked using glass pipes similar to pipes used to smoke crack cocaine" (DOJ).

It can also be injected and it is a "colorless, odorless form of d-methamphetamine." It is a synthetic, or manmade substance, and it looks like little shards of crystal or or rocks that are sometimes bluish-white.


Though it produces a strong and intense high which can "last 12 hours or more," it highly dangerous, addictive, and potentially fatal to the user. Crystal meth will create problems for the user very quickly and is gaining popularity and use with frightening results.

What is the Origin of Crystal Meth?

Crystal meth is a version of the drug methamphetamine that looks like crystal shards or rocks. The origin of the drug is interesting and complex.

Crystal Meth Photo

What Is Methamphetamine

Crystal meth comes from methamphetamine which is "a variant of amphetamine," according to the University of Arizona.

While amphetamine was "first synthesized by a Romanian chemist named Lazar Edelenau... at the University of Berlin in 1887," methamphetamine was synthesized in Japan six years later from "the precursor chemical ephedrine."


What Is Ephedrine

Ephedrine comes from "an evergreen shrub-like plant native to Central Asia and Mongolia" called ephedra (NCCAM). Ephedrine is the principal active ingredient in the shrub and it can stimulate the heart and nervous system in a strong way. Before it was used to make these drugs, it was used as a remedy in China for over 5,000 years to treat:

  • Flu
  • Headaches
  • Congestion of the Nasal Passage
  • Wheezing
  • Fever
  • Colds
  • Asthma

The Use of Meth Throughout History

The man who first synthesized methamphetamine was named Nagayoshi Nagai (University of Arizona). In 1919, the first crystalized version of the drug was created. There wasn't much of a purpose for it at first, and it was used in "nasal decongestants and bronchial inhalers" (CESAR). It came to the United States in the 1930s for these purposes. At one time, meth was even used "in the treatment of obesity."

Though it existed for almost fifty years beforehand, it "was not widely used until World War II" began. It was given to soldiers in the "German, English, American, and Japanese" militaries in order to help them increase their endurance and to keep them from becoming fatigued (University of Arizona).

Crystal Meth as an Illegal Substance

CESAR states that "the drug was outlawed as a part of the US Drug Abuse and Regulation Control Act of 1970," but it continued to be abused by many for its strong high. As it is extremely addictive, many users get hooked on crystal meth after abusing it for a short time. As stated by the DOJ, "Mexican drug trafficking organizations have become the primary manufacturers and distributors of methamphetamine to cities throughout the United States."

Now, meth is a Schedule II substance which means that it is sometimes used for medicinal purposes but is highly dangerous and has a strong potential for abuse. It is now only used to treat ADHD, and even that treatment is not especially common.

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