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A Few Surprising Facts About Meth You Didn’t Know 

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Almost everyone has heard of meth and its horrendous side effects.  Yet, the story behind this drug’s prevalence is rarely told.  Would you better grasp the widespread meth crisis if some lesser-known facts about meth were revealed?  

In many people’s minds, meth addiction is associated with haggard, homeless people.  This image exists because substance abuse has long been stigmatized.  In the context of stigma, it is easy for someone to fall back on outdated stereotypes and ideas.  In truth, these individuals did not choose to be addicted to meth.

Sadly, hundreds of people in the U.S. die each day as a result of meth use. But, the number of needless deaths can be reduced.  Anyone struggling with meth abuse needs professional help, not criticism.  So, it’s important to learn the facts about meth if we are to reduce the stigma and save lives.  

Taking a Look At How the U.S. Meth Problem Began

Facts About Meth
Ma-huang Ephedra Plant

Have you ever wondered where meth came from and how it became such a deadly street drug?  Surprisingly, the history of methamphetamine began over a century ago.  In 1887, a Romanian chemist created amphetamine sulfate from the ma-huang (ephedra) plant found in China. 

Later, in 1919, the commercial drug methamphetamine was developed from amphetamine.  It was widely used in World War II to treat troops for asthma and to reduce fatigue and keep the soldiers awake for extended periods.  Researchers during that era found that methamphetamine also made troops more aggressive and more confident.  

Facts About Meth Use In the Military

WW2 was not only the most destructive war in history but the most pharmacologically enhanced.  American, British, German, and Japanese troops were given large amounts of methamphetamine during battle.  Many soldiers died from side effects of the drug such as heart failure and suicides provoked by drug-induced psychoses.  

During the war, approximately 15% of American soldiers used methamphetamine regularly.  Pilots and sailors used it as well.  Estimates show that the Pentagon issued between 250 to 500 million tablets to U.S. troops during WW2.  

When the potentially addictive nature of the drug was discovered, German military leaders cut back on methamphetamine allocations.  However, despite rising awareness of the negative side effects of the drug, western and eastern militaries continued dispensing it to their troops.  

WW2 soldiers were the largest number of amphetamine users from 1939 to 1945.  Millions of soldiers returned home after the war only to engage in another battle – methamphetamine addiction.

Rapid Spread of Methamphetamine Use Among Civilians

By the 1940s, civilians began using methamphetamine legally and illegally.  It was often prescribed for weight loss and to treat depression.  Methamphetamine was also used to treat heroin addiction.  People used the drug to stay awake for partying, studying for exams, and driving long distances.  By the early 1950s, more than 550,000 people were addicted to the drug.

You will be surprised to know that methamphetamine was considered a harmless miracle drug, and was readily available by prescription during the 1960s.  Fast forward to today and you’ll find that meth is one of the leading drugs of abuse and addiction in the U.S.  

Other Facts About Meth: Methods of Use

Methamphetamine is also known as meth, ice, crystal, and chalk.  It is a white, bitter-tasting, odorless powder.  The powder can be used several ways producing varying effects and risks.  The most common methods for ingesting meth are:


Smoking is the preferred method for ingesting meth.  It involves using a flute or pipe.  When the smoke is inhaled, it enters the bloodstream right away and produces an intense rush or high.  Smoking meth increases the risk of addiction and overdose.  One of the significant side effects of meth is the painful condition known as meth mouth.


Snorting meth involves inhaling the power through the nose.  The euphoric effects take several minutes to appear when someone snorts meth.  This method reduces the risk of contracting blood-borne diseases, but it can damage the sinuses and nasal tissues.


Meth powder can be diluted and easily injected directly into the bloodstream.  This method provides an instantaneous and powerful rush.  As a result of injecting meth, users can contract chronic illnesses such as HIV and hepatitis C, which can last a lifetime.

Swallowing Pills

When meth pills, known as speed, are ingested orally, it takes about 15 – 20 minutes to feel the effects.  Because of the delayed effects, it is not uncommon for people to take more because they believe it is not working.  This increases the risk of overdose or other adverse side effects of meth use.

We Recognize the Unique Needs of People With Meth Addiction

Meth is not instantly addictive, so if you are in the early stages of meth use, take steps to stop before it takes complete control of your life. Prolonged meth use can damage your health in many ways, and some of them may be irreversible. 

Make sure meth doesn’t gain that much power over you.  We can help.  At Design for Change Recovery, you’ll experience the benefits of our fully-accredited and licensed addiction treatment program.  No matter what substance is involved, we provide customized, evidence-based treatment plans for our clients. 

Reach out to our Lancaster, CA facility by phone, email, or online. We’ll be happy to recommend a personalized meth addiction treatment program based on your unique situation. 


  • – How Methamphetamine Became a Key Part of Nazi Military Strategy
  •– The Methamphetamine Problems in the United States
  • – Weekly Dose:  Ice and Speed, the Drugs That Kept Soldiers Awake and a President Young
A Few Surprising Facts About Meth You Didn't Know