The Life and Times of Crystal Meth

A new book traces the drug's history, from panacea to pandemic
By Heather McPherson,  Newser User
Posted Aug 21, 2007 6:28 PM CDT
The Life and Times of Crystal Meth
Graphic maps percentage of people 12 or older reporting meth use 2002-2005 by state; two sizes; 1c x 3 inches; 46.5 mm x 76.2 mm; 2c x 4 inches; 96.3 mm x 101.6 mm   (Associated Press)

Even when it has the word "crystal" in front of it, meth is a downmarket drug, which summons up images of makeshift drug labs in run-down trailer parks. But meth, Salon notes in an essay on Frank Owen's new book, "No Speed Limit," has a rich history going back 90 years, spanning the whole socioeconomic gamut.  Meth has traveled from over-the-counter wonder-drug to a top scorer in the "Index of Truly Bad Shit."

Originally dubbed Benzedrine in the 1920s, meth was marketed as a cure-all for maladies ranging from obesity to schizophrenia, Owen writes. In World War II, he claims, "GIs consumed an estimated 200 million pills," and a vast number returned home with serious habits. From there, it made stops as "mother's little helper" in the '60s, and libido enhancer in the gay club scene of the '90s. (More drug addiction stories.)

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