Here at tweaker.org, what concerns us most about the current meth epidemic is its impact on the physical, emotional and social health of gay men. A big part of this impact is the clearly defined relationship between meth use and HIV transmission because men on speed are taking increased risks that they would not ordinarily take. That said, let us give you a little quickie down and dirty history lesson.
Way back in 1887, amphetamine was first synthesized in Germany. A related compound, methamphetamine – speed, crank, ice, Tina, whatever you currently call it – was later synthesized in Japan about 30 years later, in 1919.
In 1927, a British chemist researched the stimulating effects of meth. He quickly realized their potential for producing increased alertness, alleviating fatigue and inducing euphoria. Excited over the new prospects of the drug, he studied its ability to mimic an adrenaline rush in the body and the well-known ‘fight or flight’ response.
During WWII and due to their energizing and antidepressant properties, amphetamines were sanctioned by the governments of the United States, Germany and Japan and given to many men in their militaries. It has been estimated that during the last years of WWII, millions of Japanese soldiers, defense workers and civilians used amphetamines so that by the end of the war at least 2 percent of Japanese adults were dependent on the drug. Yeah but, you might think, 2 percent’s not a large number until you realize that’s 2 percent of the entire population!
In the United States, post-war studies of American military prisoners revealed that a notable number of these guys reported abusing amphetamine inhalers. In 1959, the first use in the United States of intravenous injection of the contents of a Benzedrine inhaler was reported; in 1971, the last non-prescription inhaler was removed from the U.S. market pursuant to the passage of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. In the United States, there have been three distinct methamphetamine epidemics: one in the 1950s, a second in the late 1960s, and the third and current one that began in the mid-1990s.