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
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)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – 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.