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            Central nervous system psychoactive drugs have been in use for treatment of various terminal or stimulation aspects. The mode of action is through direct or indirect effect on the Central nervous system. Methamphetamine is one such drug that acts with great hence its name crystal, meth or speed. The drug can be taken through snorting, injection, smoking or oral ingestion. Meth like most of the psychoactive drugs is addictive if taken for a long time thus leading to dependence. This study will examine the history of methamphetamine, its current uses and the synthesis method.


Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that is synthetically manufactured. It is packed and sold in chucks, capsules, powder or pill form illegally. It has a powder with white coloration, ordorless, and crystalline structure and tastes bitter. It has properties that enable it to dissolve very easily in both alcohol and water. This property makes it suitable for various modes of delivery like smoking, injection, and spraying on marijuana or tobacco. (Itzhak , Martin , & Ali 1177-1183). The drug is heat labile, vaporises quite fast, and thus can be inhaled by its consumers after heating. Its white crystals has led to various coined names like ice, other names are glass, shabu, crank, speed, chalk, crystal, Zip among others (Kalispell, What is methamphetamine?).

            The drug acts on the central nervous system through stimulation and is commonly referred to as the ‘poor man’s cocaine’ (Kalispell, What is methamphetamine?) which belongs to the family of amphetamines. This family of drugs have direct effect on the central nervous system and stimulation rate in circulation is to eight to 24 hours. Its vigour and alertness is compared to that of cocaine though it has secondary variety of negative reactions. For example its withdrawal effects lasts longer compared to cocaine, the effects range from rush state to increased agitation and certain individuals may exhibit violent habits. (McGregor et al 1320-1329).

            Methamphetamine is rated as a stimulant in schedule II category with high risk for abuse and is on market as none refilled a prescription. Limited medical prescriptions are acceptable like for treating narcolepsy, short-term obesity, and deficit in attention disorder. ( Othman et al 222-227)

            Consequently, the adverse health short to long-term effects of  methamphetamine abuse include; stomach cramps, stroke, shaking, insomnia, cardiac arrhythmia, paranoia, changes in brain function and hallucinations. If pregnant women abuse the drug, they develop retardation growth to their newborn, neonatal development disorders, premature birth and loss of cognitive ideas (Anglin, et al, History of the methamphetamine problem).

            Methamphetamine can easily be made from cheaply available and common products at home, this makes the substance very in expensive and increases its availability. (Giannini , Drug Abuse ).In addition, the physical properties of methamphetamine renders it attractive and widely distributed to a large demographic population of users some of whom are young and even more women are exposed to it. This has led to complex social degeneration leading to ailments and increased crimes that are attributed to the substance (San Luis Obispo County, Methamphetamine position statement).

            In recent times, there has been numerous innovative mechanism of synthesis of methamphetamine in various derivative forms and generics. The rampant uses by gangs and unlawful groups have led to high costs in treatment and management of disorders elicited by the drug. Methamphetamine hospital emergences, admissions and deaths are on high-rise. Severe treatment cases for long-term addiction and abuse is minimal for inpatients but rampant for outpatients that includes three to five fold bookings for comprehensive sessions on advisory and counselling. It is for this reason that complex medical cases of methamphetamine abuse that calls for enough programs for treatment and recovery to meet the increased variety of types its abuse (Anglin, et al, History of the methamphetamine problem).

Background of methamphetamines

            The historical abuse can be traced back to the Hitler time and the Nazi regime and the Japanese or any of the allied countries during the Second World War. Japan was the first place where methamphetamine was produced in1893 by Nagayoshi Nagai. He managed to synthesize the product from ephedrine from the oriental cultures. It was until 1919 that Akira Ogata produced crystal form of methamphetamine. He used a reduction process by using red phosphorous together with iodine same way as crank is synthesized currently. With methamphetamine invention, there was no immediate medical treatment for it instead, by 1920s it was tried to treat colds (AKDirtyHeaven, Learn about the History of Methamphetamines).

             In 1930s, information on its discovery was all over and when World War II broke up, Nazis and Japanese troops were using meth in form of tablets by name pervitin. This was a product of Tremmler Company in 1938, and was used wade of sleep from soldiers. By 1944 at the end of World War II, the Nazis were able to synthesize D-IX, which was a combination of cocaine and meth with moriphine all in a single bill. Gangs like Yakuza in Japan peddled Meth in 40s and 50s before the US Methedrine version of prescription emerged.  By 1ate, 60s and 70s meth could easily be produce at home and gang groups like the famous motorcycle gang distributed the produce widely along the west coast (AKDirtyHeaven, Learn about the History of Methamphetamines).

            The precursor for methamphetamine is amphetamine; this product was widely in use in 1950s and 1960s for treating obesity and depression. By 1967 close to thirty one million populations in the United States were receiving its prescription. California was among the first states to report early endemic abuses to the methamphetamine in the late 1980s (Anglin, et al, History of the methamphetamine problem).

            Methamphetamine precursor was originally used as a decongestant of the nose and used by inhalers of bronchitis. Its action is by decreasing appetite and increasing basal activity, as well as a feeling of good mood. ( Yudko et al , Methamphetamine Use: Clinical and Forensic Aspects, ). Methamphetamine is different from other stimulants like cocaine and is categorised as a psychostimulant. Just like cocaine, it accumulates dopamine, which is the neurotransmitter that results to feelings euphoric to the consumer. The drug metabolism is strange in that it remains unchanged for long time thus exerting its effects longer. This long presence and stimulation leads to prolonged effects on the brain (Institute for Intergovernmental Research, The Methamphetamine Problem).

How Methamphetamine has become what it is today

            Methamphetamine drug is a very harmful drug and it has dangerous repercussion on one’s health. Its widespread to all age groups is a worry to many and government. Methamphetamine is manufactured locally. (Othman et al 222-227). One doesn’t require complicated ways and processes to come up with the drug; this has contributed to its availability. As compared to other drugs like heroin methamphetamine is the cheapest, Methamphetamine compounds are not expensive this is the main reason why young people and women are the leading consumers of the drug (Institute for Intergovernmental Research, The Methamphetamine Problem).

            It has valuable properties, which are highly valued by the users. In retrospect Methamphetamine uses is ever changing given the circumstances of the day. In early days, it was used during wars mainly to reduce chances of sleep and make one active during wars and this shows how people inherited some of the uses. It could be used to treat depression and other cases obesity (Anglin, et al, History of the methamphetamine problem).

            Methamphetamine can make a user to have more energy and vitality, this helps a user to cop with many challenges that he or she might be facing. The drug makes a person to be very attentive, euphoric for a short while. This forces the user to inject more and more substance into his body and after continues use a person becomes addicted to the drug. (Othman et al 222-227). This portrays why there is uncontrollable use of the drug. There are also different ways of consuming the drug, some injects to hi/her body while others takes pills. The addicted user has long lasting effects from the drug; these include lack of sleep, causes delusions, fear and even hallucinations (Institute for Intergovernmental Research, The Methamphetamine Problem).

Methamphetamine has become real problem, given its impact and daily use not only in our homes but in our industries also. Our environment is at the risk given tones of Methamphetamine heaps on soil and water. These have adverse effect in the way we live, given the fact that we must use these basic needs for our survival.( Itzhak , Martin , Ali 1177-1183). Our manufacturing industries churn lots of fumes and gases to the air that are extremely harmful to our health. Methamphetamine problem has cause toll to many families, children whom their parents consume Methamphetamine are at the risk of negligence and availability of the drug in their household has dangerous repercussions. Crime rates are soaring due to given social and economic impact that Methamphetamine have. Many governments use lots of money to clean up Methamphetamine laboratories and pay anti- Methamphetamine enforcers (San Luis Obispo County, Methamphetamine position statement).

            Methamphetamine is a big challenge to the nation and has become a real threat to its people. It needs lots of money to strengthen, intervene and sensitize the citizens about the drug. (Giannini. Drugs of Abuse) Measures that are needed also should include prevention; ban the drug will minimize consumption rates by the citizens. It requires also rehabilitation to those already affected by the drug this entails community participation on the Methamphetamine issues and challenges (Institute for Intergovernmental Research, The Methamphetamine Problem).

How Methamphetamine is Synthesized Now

Methamphetamine is manufactured using a variety of store bought chemicals. The most common ingredient is pseudoephedrine or ephedrine, which is commonly found in cold medicine. (Othman et al 222-227). The pseudo ephedrine or ephedrine is chemically changed into methamphetamine through a cooking process. The other ingredients used are ether, paint thinner, Freon, acetone, anhydrous ammonia, iodine crystals, red phosphorus, drain cleaner, battery acid and lithium (Giannini, Drugs of Abuse).

The meth as it is commonly known is often manufactured or cooked in very crud laboratories. These labs are not sophisticated operations and they do not need sophisticated chemistry equipment. The people who cook the meth do not usually have any chemistry training. It is actually very easy to cook the meth, but highly dangerous and toxic to the person cooking it. There are two categories of the meth labs. The first one is the superlabs, which produce large quantities of meth. In the superlabs, there are supply groups with organized ways of drug trafficking. Most of them are controlled by Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations operating in the U.S. and Mexico. The Mexican drug cartels have become very powerful organization in their production and distribution of methamphetamine (Giannini, Drugs of Abuse).

The labs produce smaller quantities of meth and they can be set up in the homes, motel rooms, inside automobiles, in the park or even in rural areas. It is as it can be set up anywhere. The labs are especially pervasive in the Flathead area. The processing required to make methamphetamine from precursor substances is easier and more accessible that ever. The recipes and the information about making the meth are readily available on the internet. The drug can be made in a makeshift lab that can fit into a suitcase. The average meth cook annually teaches ten other people how to cook the drug (Giannini, Drugs of Abuse).

There are many different methods for producing the drug and each method has its own dangers. The chemicals used are caustic or corrosive and the processes create noxious and harmful fumes to the environment. One of the methods is called the Nazi method. This is because is it mirrors the meth-making procedure that was followed by the Germans during World War II. The Nazi method uses anhydrous ammonia instead of the hydriodic acid. The anhydrous ammonia is a chemical found in fertilizers and is often stored in large tanks on the farm and it can produce a poisonous gas if its liquid form is released in the air. It is always believed that the meth makers sometimes steal the product in the middle of the night and briefly sets up a shop near the tank. The other method is earthier.  Since in some areas so much of the meth by-products are dumped into the soil, the cooks excavate hundreds of cubic yards of earth from the sites to process the dirt and extract the chemicals to the meth. The Nazi method uses very simple recipes in the cooking of meth. The materials used are inexpensive and can be purchased in discount stores (Giannini, Drugs of Abuse).

Many chemical can be found in common household items such as lantern fuel, cleaners, acetone, muriatic acid and diet pills. The chemicals used are Pseudoephedrine  and ephedrine from cold tablets, acetone, alcohol from isopropyl or rubbing, toluene from brake cleaner, ether from the engine starter, sulphuric acid from drain cleaner, methanol from gasoline additives, salt, sodium hydroxide from lye, red phosphorus from matches, iodine from teat dip and trichloroethane from dun scrubber. The equipments used are Pyrex dishes, jugs, bottles, funnels, coffee filters, cheesecloth, blender, rubber tubing, paper towels, rubber gloves, gas can, tape, hotplate, strainer, aluminium foil, propane cylinder (20-lb) and books of how to make methamphetamine.( Institute for Intergovernmental Research, The Methamphetamine Problem).

Meth is cook in super labs in modern technology. The process of making the meth starts with the precursor being added to the other drugs to produce the drug. The precursor is a chemical that when combined with another chemical result into a new product. The commonly used precursors are the drain cleaner, fuel additive and iodine. There are other labs called the clandestine lab. They are an illicit operations consisting of a sufficient combination of apparatus and chemicals that either have been used in manufacture of controlled substances. They are found in rural, city, suburban residents, barns, garages and many other places. There are other small portable labs commonly known as Mom and Pop or Beavis and Butthead labs, which are the boot of the cars. Larger labs are permanently set up and can produce up to 100 pounds of meth per cook. After the use of the labs, they are cleaned up. The cleanup of the labs is extremely expensive and many cannot afford. The average cost of the cleanup is about $5,000 (Institute for Intergovernmental Research, The Methamphetamine Problem).

The majority used labs in recent days are the clandestine laboratories because they are cheaper and the ingredients used are also inexpensive and can be easily gotten over the counter. These are the reasons why the drug has a widespread and is mostly abused by many. Since it uses inexpensive chemicals that are easily available, meth is relatively inexpensive than other drugs such as cocaine and heroin. The widespread of the drug has also been emphasised by the fact that anyone can easily make this drug and many other cooks are taught how to make the drug and the material for making the drug are easily available (Institute for Intergovernmental Research, The Methamphetamine Problem).


We see that methamphetamine also called meth, crystal or speed is a widely used drug especially in the U.S. and Mexico. It is a very powerful central nervous system stimulant. The resources used in making the drug are easily available and the process of many the drug is easy. It can be injected, smoked, snorted or ingested orally. Drug is derived from amphetamine and was first used in the 1950s as a medication for obesity and depression in the United States. Meth is the most significantly used drug and there are like 52% of arrested people using the drug (Institute for Intergovernmental Research, The Methamphetamine Problem).

Great people like Hitler used the drug. He started using the drug when the Nazis started losing the war. In fact, the whole Nazi military used it. Meth is said to a rich man’s drug because it is expensive and rich people are known to consume it. It was first made in Japan in 1893 by a person named Nagayoshi Nagai. Since then, the use of the drug has been increased and many people are now addicts of the drug. This has made it difficult for the police and other criminal investigations to stop the use since many people know how to make the drug (AKDirtyHeaven, Learn about the History of Methamphetamines).

Works Cited

Anglin, Burke , Perrochet , Stamper and Dawud-Noursi .History of the methamphetamine          problem. Los Angeles, 2000. 32(2):137-41.   Available      at<”>           accessed on 14-10-2008.

AKDirtyHeaven. Learn about the History of Methamphetamines. 2008. Available at<  history.html”  accessed on 14-10-2008.

Friends of Narconon, Intl. History of Methamphetamine. 2008. Available

at< > accessed on 14-10-2008.

Giannini, A. J. Drugs of Abuse–Second Edition.  Ed. Los Angeles: Practice Management Information Company, 1997.

Institute for Intergovernmental Research. The Methamphetamine Problem. 2008.            Available at”  accessed on 14-10-2008.

Institute for Intergovernmental Research. The Methamphetamine Problem. 2008. <> Accessed on October 14th 2008

Itzhak Y, Martin J, Ali S. “Methamphetamine-induced dopaminergic neurotoxicity in mice: long-lasting sensitization to the locomotor stimulation and desensitization to the rewarding effects of methamphetamine”. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry  2002. 26 (6): 1177–83. doi:10.1016/S0278-5846(02)00257-9

Kalispell. What is methamphetamine?. 2008. Available at<   ”>accessed on 14-  10-2008

McGregor C, Srisurapanont M, Jittiwutikarn J, Laobhripatr S, Wongtan T, White J

. “The nature, time course and severity of methamphetamine withdrawal”. Addiction 2005; 100 (9): 1320–9

othman RB, Partilla JS, Baumann MH, Dersch CM, Carroll FI, Rice KC. “Neurochemical

Neutralization of Methamphetamine With High-Affinity Nonselective Inhibitors of Biogenic Amine Transporters: A Pharmacological Strategy for Treating Stimulant Abuse.” Synapse 2000 Mar 1;35(3):222-7

San Luis Obispo County, Drug and Alcohol Advisory Board. Methamphetamine position             statement.2007.Available at   <> accessed on 14-10-            2008.

Yudko, Errol ; Harold V. Hall, and Sandra B. McPherson Methamphetamine Use:

            Clinical and Forensic Aspects. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Fl, 2003


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