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Crystal Meth Origins
May 31, 2013 6:46 PM   Subscribe

The German Granddaddy of Crystal Meth
posted by Confess, Fletch (59 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Doctors didn't hesitate to prescribe it to patients as an appetite suppressant or to improve the mood of those struggling with depression. Students, especially medical students, turned to the stimulant to help them cram through the night and finish their studies faster.

Who can forget this famous episode of Family Ties?
posted by DU at 6:56 PM on May 31, 2013 [7 favorites]


Do they call it "Perv," for short?

(Also, I've at least tried just about everything in the drug buffet, but I won't fucking touch meth (or smack))
posted by jonmc at 6:59 PM on May 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Wikipedia entry on Uncle Fester makes me want to both buy these books and run far, far away from them.
posted by DU at 7:01 PM on May 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Viagra should have been called "Pervitin"
posted by Renoroc at 7:02 PM on May 31, 2013 [5 favorites]


I've seen anecdotal evidence that dextro-methamphetamine is one of the best drugs for treating ADHD. But because people like to abuse it, it is very hard to convince a doctor to prescribe it.

And just because a German happened to stumble across it doesn't mean it's a bad drug. It's not like someone else wouldn't have stumbled across it soon enough.

Like so many things, the poison is the dose. Like benzos, morphines, and many other good drugs, amphetamine use needs to be for a good reason and monitored closely.
posted by gjc at 7:41 PM on May 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


I thought this was widely and commonly known? Along with Hitler getting shots of methamphetamine from his doctor, and our pilots using speed and downers too?
posted by Houstonian at 7:41 PM on May 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


They gave Japanese pilots methamphetamine too. In fact, methamphetamine was invented by the Japanese.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:45 PM on May 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've seen anecdotal evidence that dextro-methamphetamine is one of the best drugs for treating ADHD. But because people like to abuse it, it is very hard to convince a doctor to prescribe it.

Dextroamphetamine is Dexedrine, and Vyvanse is a prodrug for it, which is commonly prescribed for ADHD. Sure that's not what you're thinking of? Googling for dextromethamphetamine just gives results for dextroamphetamine.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:48 PM on May 31, 2013


Heisenberg?
posted by jimmythefish at 7:58 PM on May 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Double (sorta; substantially similar article, different link)
posted by scruss at 7:58 PM on May 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


History would have been totally different if Hitler smoked doobies.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:13 PM on May 31, 2013 [8 favorites]


We're fighting a War on Drugs. Really, we're fighting a war, and we're on drugs.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:14 PM on May 31, 2013 [18 favorites]


The Wikipedia entry on Uncle Fester makes me want to both buy these books and run far, far away from them.

I collect strange crime books so I own Secrets. It's really not of much interest to someone not actually wanting to manufacture some crank.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:37 PM on May 31, 2013


I've seen anecdotal evidence that dextro-methamphetamine is one of the best drugs for treating ADHD. But because people like to abuse it, it is very hard to convince a doctor to prescribe it.

Not only are doctors hesitant to prescribe it, but insurance won't cover it for anyone over a certain age. Insurance companies do not recognize Adult ADHD as a disorder.

I found this out when my doctor tried to change my narcolepsy medication. To begin, I was prescribed Nuvigil, which I had been taking for over 3 years with much success. Suddenly, my health insurance company decided Nuvigil was too expensive. Rather than going after Cephalon Inc. (a pharmaceutical company that has been doing some shady things in the pharmaceutical patent realm) and trying to recover the millions of dollars they have most likely been overcharged, they simply cut me off and demanded my pulmonologist prescribe something else (can't remember what it was, but it was $49 for a monthly supply, and my doctor said he has never seen it work with any of his patients).

So, he prescribed Adderall. I get to the pharmacy, and they say I need a prior authorization which, if you've ever been through this song and dance, is quite a frickin' hassle for the patient, pharmacy, and the doctor. Long story short, my health insurance provider was denying me because a lot of young adults who had been taking Adderall or Ritalin up until the age the HMO no longer recognized their ADHD would then go to a different doctor to get a non-clinical diagnosis for narcolepsy. My pulmonologist sent them my sleep study results and the prior auth three times before it was approved. When I talked to him, he said the prior authorizations are supposed to be approved by a medical panel, but typically, they're just rubber stamped as denied by some intern until my doctor raises a stink. Then, an actual doctor will evaluate the results, and issue an approval. So, yeah... Health insurance companies don't even have to have actual medical personnel evaluate your medical claims with prior authorizations. Isn't 'murica awesome?

Sorry for the tangent. To return to the amphetamine discussion, I can say from firsthand experience that amphetamines suck, big time. When I'm taking it, I'm a bit OCD, and the smallest annoyances I cannot let slide. Everything must be addressed, and it must be addressed immediately. I cannot say enough about Nuvigil and some of the other nootropics out there (I was prescribed modafanil for a month before I took the Nuvigil/armodafinil). They actually improve alertness, without simply stimulating your CNS.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 8:39 PM on May 31, 2013 [8 favorites]


More like Walther Witte, amirite?
posted by phunniemee at 8:43 PM on May 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Someone I know read Gravity's Rainbow in whole one night coming down from acid. And if I recall correctly, Pynchon was all over this, the history of heroin and morphine starting with the development of aniline dyes from coal tar and so forth, with a sidebar on oil and coal as being the essence of dead ferns and dinosaurs, if not quintessence and by digging and drilling them up, we were injecting concentrated death into the air we breathe in either Gravity's Rainbow, if not V. It was very moving and distressing and very polymath's polymath. It scares me, by the way, that V is fifty years old. I read it in high school the year it came out. That was one hella book. If not bravura.
posted by y2karl at 8:45 PM on May 31, 2013 [5 favorites]


Amphetamine and methamphetamine share the same chiral center, so the differing effects of the levo and dextro enantiomers are more or less the same, with the dextro version being responsible for basically all the CNS effect. Adderall is racemic amphetamine and pharmaceutical methamphetamine is sold under the name Desoxyn (I have no idea if it's racemic or just the D- isomer).

Street meth, on the other hand, is basically all D-methamphetamine, because pseudoephedrine has the same chiral center. Unless, of course, you're making meth by reductively aminating P2P, like they do on Breaking Bad. That produces racemic meth.

That's right, when Walter runs out of pseudo and switches his cook to make the blue meth, he would have been maybe technically not making meth any less pure, but it would have been half as potent. That detail has always bugged me.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 8:54 PM on May 31, 2013 [9 favorites]


This is just to say that the thread title made me think there was a movie series called Crystal Meth.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:56 PM on May 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Perhaps it is difficult to prescribe and get covered by insurance in certain states. I live in CA, US, and there are none of those problems, even with an HMO and for adults being over a "certain age", whatever age that happens to be, I am sure I know people over that age who have prescriptions.

It is extremely helpful for those truly diagnosed with ADD/ADHD.

The smartest way to not become physically addicted is to take the prescribed dosage during the 5 day work/school week, and then lower (pour out, or save) the dosage by 1/4 on Saturday, and by 1/2 on Sunday. As a result, the dependency never increases because of tolerance. On Monday, the full dosage starts again, and the body has the exact result it should have, with no increasing dependance.

Hope that helps.
posted by Arachnophile at 9:23 PM on May 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, and before someone else mentions it, I know Walter addresses this at the start of season 4, when he rhetorically asks Victor why his product is pure D-meth when the reaction produces both D- and L- meth, but this doesn't make things better! If he had a secret way of cheaply isolating the enantiomers or better yet, converting L-meth to D-meth, he wouldn't need to be cooking meth to get rich, that kind of process would revolutionize chemistry. Also, if he could turn L-meth into D-meth, he wouldn't need to bother with the P2P cook. L-meth is an over-the-counter decongestant, and because unlike pseudoephedrine, there isn't an easy way to turn it into D-meth, it isn't super closely monitored.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 9:26 PM on May 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


History would have been totally different if Hitler smoked doobies.

Actually it was different because he stopped smoking cigarettes.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 9:51 PM on May 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


> Insurance companies do not recognize Adult ADHD as a disorder.

This may be the case for your insurer, but it is by no means universally true, and the Mental Health and Addiction Parity Act in 2008 made it much more difficult for insurers to pull this kind of thing.
posted by desuetude at 10:20 PM on May 31, 2013


he wouldn't need to be cooking meth to get rich, that kind of process would revolutionize chemistry
Well, he was involved with both a Nobel Prize–winning research team and a pharma startup which went on to make millions. And his research specialty (crystallography) is right on the fringe of what's useful for resolving chiral compounds. This is the sort of handwavy–yet–sorta plausible detail which makes the show great (c.f. dissolving bodies in HF).
posted by aw_yiss at 10:38 PM on May 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Adderall is racemic amphetamine and pharmaceutical methamphetamine is sold under the name Desoxyn (I have no idea if it's racemic or just the D- isomer).

FWIW Desoxyn is not racemic. And in case anyone is interested, Adderall is now standardized at a 3:1 d:l ratio.
posted by Justinian at 11:07 PM on May 31, 2013


Dextroamphetamine is Dexedrine, and Vyvanse is a prodrug for it, which is commonly prescribed for ADHD. Sure that's not what you're thinking of? Googling for dextromethamphetamine just gives results for dextroamphetamine.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methamphetamine#Pharmacology
posted by gjc at 11:08 PM on May 31, 2013


This is just to say that the thread title made me think there was a movie series called Crystal Meth.


The Dark Crystal Meth.



I remember I got a bootleg DVD of the Dark Crystal, with this alternative electronic rave music soundtrack.

It sucked.
posted by alex_skazat at 11:34 PM on May 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Also, I've at least tried just about everything in the drug buffet, but I won't fucking touch meth (or smack))

In spite of the hype, they're not automatic tickets to addiction. YMMV.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:47 PM on May 31, 2013


The smartest way to not become physically addicted

Like cocaine, amphetamines aren't normally regarded as causing physical dependence (not in the same way that alcohol, opiates and benzodiazapines are). The usual characteristics of are tolerance and a withdrawal syndrome and amphetamine use produces neither of these things.

Which isn't to say that people don't get fucked up and addicted to it, and the distinction is often regarded as a moot one these days. But you'll never need to be admitted to hospital to detox from amphetamine.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:07 AM on June 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


In spite of the hype, they're not automatic tickets to addiction. YMMV.

You mean the powers that be sometimes exaggerate the dangers of drugs?
posted by Justinian at 12:26 AM on June 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


PeterMcDermott, can you show me a cite for this? Not arguing but in my anecdotal world, every crack addict that I've had the joy of knowing has a three or four day withdrawal period, very similar to heroin withdrawal minus the shitting themselves constantly. I did look on the goog for this info but it's not definitive.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 1:07 AM on June 1, 2013


I am so glad my late mother wasn't aware of the Nazi anti-smoking campaigns. Iz was bad enough that C. Everette Koop was LDS. Right there was an excellent reading to go have another pack of Benson and Hedges.
From her, I knew about the meth/Nazi connection.
Meth is a serious problem in my town. I wish the only drugs people here did were alcohol, pot and naturally sourced opiates.
Unfortunately meth is huge here and it makes people mean.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 1:07 AM on June 1, 2013


Crystal meth, sadly, was a part of my life I luckily left behind. It made me be someone I wasn't, even if that person was able to beat Gladiator on one quarter while chainsmoking Camel straights at the 7-11.

But, what I really came in here to do is ask the OP if by choosing this article, they was trying to share something with us, get something off their chest, a secret maybe...
posted by Samizdata at 1:27 AM on June 1, 2013


Arent't you being a bit eponysterispicious?
posted by yoHighness at 2:14 AM on June 1, 2013


every crack addict that I've had the joy of knowing has a three or four day withdrawal period

But not like the physical withdrawal of opiates (vomiting, diarrhea, restless legs, sweating, high blood pressure) or benzos/alcohol (seizures, death). There's some disagreement over whether cocaine/crack has any physical withdrawal at all, it's mostly considered psychological. Meth addicts experience a physical withdrawal caused by their brain not being able to produce enough dopamine naturally which makes them sleep 48 hours at a time and be incredibly depressed, but that's it.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:05 AM on June 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Again, not arguing but from your list, DecemberBoy, these are the symptoms I've witnessed in crack addicts cleaning up: vomiting, restless legs, sweating, high blood pressure. I guess they could be psychosomatic withdrawals but unfortunately I seem to have a very large sample group to draw on that would indicate that it isn't.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 3:37 AM on June 1, 2013


y2karl: "Someone I know read Gravity's Rainbow in whole one night coming down from acid. And if I recall correctly, Pynchon was all over this, the history of heroin and morphine starting with the development of aniline dyes from coal tar and so forth, with a sidebar on oil and coal as being the essence of dead ferns and dinosaurs, if not quintessence and by digging and drilling them up, we were injecting concentrated death into the air we breathe in either Gravity's Rainbow, if not V. It was very moving and distressing and very polymath's polymath. It scares me, by the way, that V is fifty years old. I read it in high school the year it came out. That was one hella book. If not bravura."

"Well, this is stimulant talk here, yes Enzian's been stuffing down Nazi surplus Pervitins these days like popcorn at the movies, and by now the bulk of the refinery—named, incidentally, for the famous discoverer of Oneirine—is behind them, and Enzian is on into some other paranoid terror, talking, talking, though each man's wind and motor cuts him off from conversation. [Gravity's Rainbow, Page 522]
posted by chavenet at 4:39 AM on June 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Meth needs some appropriately Nazi-sounding street names. Perhaps “panzerfaust” or “totenkopf” or something?
posted by acb at 4:53 AM on June 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Meth needs some appropriately Nazi-sounding street names

Hitler Blau?
posted by marienbad at 5:01 AM on June 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Huh. The Salton Sea told me it was the Japanese.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:10 AM on June 1, 2013


^ Well, this is stimulant talk here....... Enzian is on into some other paranoid terror....
posted by adamvasco at 5:28 AM on June 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Also, I've at least tried just about everything in the drug buffet, but I won't fucking touch meth (or smack))

Or krokodil.
posted by walrus at 8:11 AM on June 1, 2013


Go Pills in Combat - Prejudice, Propriety, and Practicality
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:34 AM on June 1, 2013


I've seen this alluded to, but I'm curious to know if any more substantial work has been done on the Wehrmacht and drugs.

And were the Russians doing this sort of thing, I wonder?
posted by IndigoJones at 8:48 AM on June 1, 2013


(Also, I've at least tried just about everything in the drug buffet, but I won't fucking touch meth (or smack))

Or krokodil.


Or jenkem.
posted by acb at 8:49 AM on June 1, 2013


Or jenkem.

Sounds like pretty bad shit.
posted by walrus at 9:36 AM on June 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, [Walter White] was involved with both a Nobel Prize–winning research team and a pharma startup which went on to make millions. And his research specialty (crystallography) is right on the fringe of what's useful for resolving chiral compounds.

Something that still intrigues me about the show is what exactly happened with Elliot Schwartz, his former partner in the start-up, Gray Matter. (Schwartz is German for "black", hence the company name.) It's known that Walter used to date Gretchen, Schwartz's wife, and it's likely that Walter left the company, and sold off his stake in Gray Matter for $5000, because of that. He later says that Gray Matter is worth $2 billion on the stock market currently; however much cash he has in that storage unit, it's nowhere near a billion.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:36 AM on June 1, 2013


"The usual characteristics of are tolerance and a withdrawal syndrome and amphetamine use produces neither of these things."

I must respectfully but heartily disagree. Too lazy this Saturday to look up research papers, but from experience Adderal does both. The reason doctors recommend laying off the drug on weekends is because it quickly creates a tolerance so that in only a few days the same dosage amount does less to have the same effect in the body as it did before, so that more is needed to produce the same effect as it did before, similar to caffeine. And the withdrawal is horrible. Slow withdrawal produces extreme lethargy, cold turkey produces coma-like sleep for 24-48 or more hours. But you won't see anyone in the hospital for detox, because they're asleep. It's a logical fallacy from absence of evidence that just because one might not hear about people detoxing from amphetamine in a hospital that the detox symptoms do not occur.
posted by Arachnophile at 10:55 AM on June 1, 2013


PeterMcDermott, can you show me a cite for this?

Sure. I just Googled cocaine withdrawal and here are first two links that I clicked on:

Cocaine withdrawal often has no visible physical symptoms like the vomiting and shaking that accompanies the withdrawal from heroin or alcohol.


And by 'often' they mean 'always'.

The signs and symptoms of withdrawal from depressant drugs, such as alcohol or heroin, are much easier to recognize than the symptoms of withdrawal from the stimulant drug cocaine, because a cocaine abuser who stops taking the drug has no immediate physical symptoms.

This is sort of confounded, because -- as the second link alludes to, in the past, the lack of a physical dependence syndrome used to make people think cocaine wasn't actually addictive. Back in the 80's, you had Scientific American claiming it was no more harmful than eating Pringles.

In fact, it's extremely addictive, and withdrawal of the drug often causes huge mood disorders. And you could make the case that that's physical withdrawal as well -- but it isn't physical in the same way that benzos, opioids and alcohol produce physical withdrawal.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:56 AM on June 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


And the withdrawal is horrible. Slow withdrawal produces extreme lethargy, cold turkey produces coma-like sleep for 24-48 or more hours.

From someone with personal experience of many multiple years of opioid, cocaine and amphetamine use and subsequent withdrawals, those really *aren't* withdrawal symptoms. That's the just the rebound from a period of overstimulation/inadequate sleep/over-exertion.

I know everybody loves to think that 'my hell on drugs' is as bad as it gets, but that's a walk in the park compared to genuine physical withdrawal syndrome. (The psychological stuff is something else, and is often far more problematic than physical withdrawal.)
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:03 AM on June 1, 2013


Again, not arguing but from your list, DecemberBoy, these are the symptoms I've witnessed in crack addicts cleaning up: vomiting, restless legs, sweating, high blood pressure.

It's extraordinarily rare for somebody to be addicted solely to crack. Almost all crack users use another drug to moderate the crash -- generally either opioids, benzos or alcohol -- or some combination of the three.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:22 AM on June 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, I for one don't think that "'my hell on drugs' is as bad as it gets," that's a wide sweeping assumption, but as far as "…but that's a walk in the park compared to genuine physical withdrawal syndrome." just because something may be a walk in the park does not mean it is not a genuine physical withdrawal symptom.

"Withdrawal is a more serious medical issue for some substances than for others…[]… • Many analgesics including Advil, Motrin (ibuprofen), Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid), Tylenol (acetaminophen or paracetamol), and some prescription but non-narcotic painkillers, which can cause rebound headaches when taken for extended periods of time."
from WIki

There are medical definitions of "withdrawal symptoms" that may not meet specific people's idea of what they are, but that does not change the widely accepted scientific and medical definition.
posted by Arachnophile at 11:39 AM on June 1, 2013


Uncle Fester on you tube. He says the homeland security threatening to put people on the no fly list for buying his books is putting a dent in his business. He comes across pretty good on video for being a total amateur actor. He says he doesn't do meth any more because when you get to be 50 a good night's sleep is a high priority. Amen to that.
posted by bukvich at 12:14 PM on June 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


When we're talking about psychological withdrawal symptoms so severe that they have demonstrable physical effects then maybe arguing that they're not technically physical withdrawal symptoms is unnecessarily nitpicky.

Also, constipation is an immediate physical withdrawal symptom directly related to cessation of stimulant usage.
posted by elizardbits at 12:40 PM on June 1, 2013


Calling methamphetamine "crystal" is dumb. All drugs are crystallized at the last step of synthesis or extraction. Yep, that's right, you might be taking "crystal acetaminophen".
posted by telstar at 1:14 PM on June 1, 2013


When we're talking about psychological withdrawal symptoms so severe that they have demonstrable physical effects then maybe arguing that they're not technically physical withdrawal symptoms is unnecessarily nitpicky.

I thought I'd already made that point? If I didn't, I intended to.

Bottom line is, all of our psychological states have some physical/chemical basis. If you don't think it's worth making the distinction, feel free to ignore it.

My point is only that the physical withdrawal from the two classes of drugs are qualitatively different. Here in the UK, the state will send you to rehab for addiction to coke or amphetamine. But they won't pay for an in-patient medically supervised detoxification.

Why?

Because it isn't necessary.

That's it. I'm done.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:00 PM on June 1, 2013


Crystal Meth zu tun wird Sie heben, bis Sie brechen.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:23 PM on June 1, 2013


The Nazis may have been the first to produce it industrially, but it says right on wikipedia that it was discovered by Nagai Nagayoshi in Japan in 1887.
That's right, when Walter runs out of pseudo and switches his cook to make the blue meth, he would have been maybe technically not making meth any less pure, but it would have been half as potent. That detail has always bugged me.
That always bugged me too, but I do remember once on the show mentioning and chirality, so I imagine they were doing something to filter out the L-isomer (which doesn't have any effect). I have no idea if that's even remotely possible with the equipment they had.

Still, wouldn't a 99% pure racemic mixture still show up as 99% pure, or whatever if you were doing a simple purity test?
Like cocaine, amphetamines aren't normally regarded as causing physical dependence (not in the same way that alcohol, opiates and benzodiazapines are). The usual characteristics of are tolerance and a withdrawal syndrome and amphetamine use produces neither of these things.

Which isn't to say that people don't get fucked up and addicted to it, and the distinction is often regarded as a moot one these days. But you'll never need to be admitted to hospital to detox from amphetamine.
Propaganda efforts "the faces of meth" have been really effective in scaring people off the drug, but if you think about it you could easily do a "faces of alchohol" if you datamined all the mug shots of all the millions of people who get arrested on alchohol related charges every year, and choose, say, the 10 people who increased in uglyness the most I'm sure you'd find some who look terrible.

I think some of those "face of meth" people probably had serious medical conditions as well as being addicted to meth - although the meth probably didn't help I'm sure, but there's one person who seems to have gotten serious burns on their face or something like that.

The most common thing though seems to be getting scabs, I've heard the drug weakens the immune system so sores heal more slowly, and maybe it causes some people to pick at their face?
Calling methamphetamine "crystal" is dumb. All drugs are crystallized at the last step of synthesis or extraction. Yep, that's right, you might be taking "crystal acetaminophen".
I think when people say "Crystal Meth" they mean large optically clear crystals - the idea being that if you get it in that form you can be sure the purity is high (like on breaking bad)
posted by delmoi at 7:47 AM on June 18, 2013


Faces of alcohol.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:13 AM on June 18, 2013


Still, wouldn't a 99% pure racemic mixture still show up as 99% pure, or whatever if you were doing a simple purity test?

This is where the Tuco Assay is most effective.

*snort*

TIGHT! TIGHT! TIGHT! YEEEARRRGH!
posted by [expletive deleted] at 4:12 PM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


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