Methamphetamine in its purest form, crystal meth, is a drug which, since
the late 90's, has made serious inroads into certain parts of the United States,
specifically in the rural Midwest and the Southwest. The epidemiology of its use
is unusual in two respects: 1) By and large, the drug's use is concentrated
outside of the large cities (with several notable exceptions) and 2) use of the drug
is equal among males and females, whereas most abused substances show a
predominance of use among males.
In general, the common denominator in areas most affected by use of the
drug is economic underdevelopment or economic deterioration. Unlike most illicit
drugs, use appears highest in rural areas fitting this description. Several
exceptions to this generalization exist. The cities of Honolulu and San Diego are
heavily affected, possibly because of their being situated on the earliest
trafficking routes from Southeast Asia, where the use first became common.
Native American reservations, including The Navajo Nation, have seen a
rapid upswing in the use of the drug in the past two or three years, as attested by
FBI and NPD officers, medical workers, social workers, and Navajo Nation
Behavioral Health workers.
ORIGIN OF METHAMPHETAMINE
The drug amphetamine was first fabricated in 1897. Its original use in
medicine was as a nasal decongestant. The side effects of weight loss and
wakefulness were noted and used to treat obesity and narcolepsy. During WWII,
the drug was given to Allied and Axis troops for the purpose of improving
wakefulness and endurance.
By a relatively simple chemical manipulation, a methyl group can be added
to the amphetamine molecule, increasing the power of the drug from two to
fifteen times in its various effects. The resulting drug is called
methamphetamine. By the 1970's, the Federal Government had noted the
increasing abuse of the drug and marked it as a Class II medication, indicating
that it had few...