Methamphetamine today is widely considered a scourge, its users portrayed as toothless trailer park trash and twitchy tweakers. It’s the stuff of meth labs and drug raids, but it wasn’t always like that.
As shown in Nick Parsons’ Meth Mania: A History of Methamphetamine (2014) and Nick Rasmussen’s On Speed: The Many Lives of Amphetamine (2009), amphetamines didn’t begin as illegal drugs, but were championed as medicines that could cure what ailed Americans in mid-20th Century America. First marketed as nasal decongestants, pharmaceutical houses were quick to find other uses for the new wonder drugs, extolling their virtues for the treatment of obesity, anxiety, depression, among others.
Amphetamines as a class suppress appetite, increase alertness and stamina, and induce exhilaration, and, paradoxically enough, they calm down people suffering from attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders. That’s what meth does, and that’s what Adderall does.
Methamphetamine was produced under the proprietary name Methedrine by Burroughs Wellcome and was one of the early amphetamine formulations. Marketed as a dietary aid, it and other amphetamines were advertised in journals aimed at prescribing doctors, some of which we reproduce below.
Today’s drug scourge was yesterday’s Big Pharma hard sell. And, as you will see at the bottom, today’s favored amphetamine now gets the same treatment, while meth is the stuff of the crime pages. …continue reading at Alternet