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History of Crystal Meth

If you’ve used crystal meth in the past, it’s likely you know just how powerful and how dangerous the drug can be.

Once the drug is smoked and inhaled, it begins to bring about sensations almost immediately, and it might leave you with a deep craving to use the drug again in the future, no matter the consequences. Many modern users, just like you, know that the drug is a formidable foe. It might be surprising, then, to learn that the drug got its start in a reputable laboratory, and ingredients found in crystal meth were commonly prescribed to treat medical problems in a variety of patients.

The Meth in Crystal Meth

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, methamphetamine was widely available in the 1960s, and medications containing methamphetamine were used to combat:

  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Nasal congestion
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

While it’s likely that many people benefitted from these medications, it’s also clear that many people began buying these medications and abusing them for recreational purposes. The U.S. Department of Justice reports that changes in the way methamphetamine was regulated in the 1970s led to a decrease in the use of the drug.

Crystal Meth in Popular Culture

In the mid-1990s, crystal meth seemed to be almost everywhere at once. For example, the Third Eye Blind song Semi-Charmed Life, with its multiple lyric mentions of crystal meth drug abuse, hit Billboard No. 1 in 1997. It seemed as though crystal meth was so prevalent, that people overlooked the drug references altogether in this pop song.

Crystal Emerges

While changes in the laws made meth harder to obtain, drug cartels were hard at work in a search for alternate drugs.

According to an article on the topic produced by Frontline, drug cooks working for West Coast motorcycle gangs found that the could produce another form of meth, known as crystal meth, by combining common cold medications containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine with everyday household products. Crystal meth seemed like the perfect drug, as it was easy to make and it was twice as potent as standard meth.

When crystal meth hit the market in the 1980s, addiction rates soared. The West Coast also experienced a rash of home methamphetamine labs, devoted to creating as much of the product as possible at the lowest cost possible. The government responded by cracking down on the sale and distribution of cold medication. As a final measure, the government passed a law that required stores and pharmacies to place medications containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine behind pharmacy counters. Some states crafted even stricter laws, requiring purchasers to register before they bought the drugs. Some states even required prescriptions. Since the ingredients needed to make crystal meth were harder to come by, addiction rates seemed to decline. Manufacturers may yet find new ways to create the drug in the future, however.

Crystal Meth Is Deadly

While it’s true that crystal meth is made of ingredients that were once given via prescription, it’s also true that the drug is deadly. If you’re using crystal meth, you could experience increased blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, collapse or even death. Meth can also damage the way your brain works, making it hard for you to think clearly or make good decisions.