American Meth: A History of the Methamphetamine Epidemic in America

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What Is Meth?

Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Feb 25, D. Bartlette rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction. Only half the book is the story of meth; the other half is his memoir, how his life was touched by the drug. Braswell does an incredible job weaving the two stories together, chapter for chapter.

He begins the story of meth from the first synthesis of amephetamines in Japan in although it was actually first synthesized there in the "American Meth"'s subtitle, "A History of the Methamphetamine Epidemic in America" is misleading He begins the story of meth from the first synthesis of amephetamines in Japan in although it was actually first synthesized there in the s; it only became commercially viable to mass produce in , then traces its popularity among the American, German, and Japanese fighting forces in WWII.

Its growth and popularity in post-WWII America continue; the "straight," or mainstream, society gets their perfectly acceptable pep pills from doctors, while the counter culture gets theirs from street-corner chemists, and increasingly, bikers, fueling its eventual rise as the drug of choice for the poor, rural, and working-class. He expertly connects the dots to show meth's powerful, if unacknowledged, role in many important historical events: Adolf Hitler was addicted to it, and it may have fueled his violent paranoia; Kamikaze pilots were likely high on it when they flew their suicide missions; when the Hell's Angels knifed that kid at Altamont, they were the nation's number-one supplier of illegal meth.

Interspersed with meth's history is the story of how it came to affect Braswell's life in a very personal way, starting with the first time he meets Lucille, his high-school sweetheart, since they drifted apart in college.

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He weaves the tale of their romance and marriage, dotting the narrative with little clues that Lucille might have a problem: days of hyperactivity followed by days of near-coma-like sleep, Lucille saving the party with a hypodermic full of "safe and legal" hangover cure, a handyman with suspicious "garbage" hidden on the ranch. Needless to say, Lucille's behavior spins steadily more out of control, eventually leaving Braswell with nothing One can't help but compare "American Meth" with the popular "Methland," by Nick Reding, which came out five years later.

It's a great piece of non-fiction. But "American Meth" may well be the better book; by focusing on one person, as opposed to an entire town, it is more intense, more poignant, and more powerful than its more popular cousin.

How Did Hawaii Become the Meth Capital of the U.S. and How Can We Help?

Aug 08, Falbs rated it really liked it. Sterling Braswell obviously thinks he's the cat's meow, but the back and forth between the history and the actual story works pretty well. And I found this book to be truly and deeply frightening. It's just brutal the way the story plays out and I found the epilogue to be one of the most moving pages I've read in a long, long time. Jan 20, Shalece rated it it was amazing.

Ok, so maybe I just liked it becuase it has to do with my job, but it demonstrated the damaging effects of meth in a compelling true story intermixed with a history on meth through the ages. In addition, methamphetamine increasingly is produced in Mexico and smuggled into the United States. Methamphetamine laboratory operators often are well-armed, and their laboratories occasionally are booby-trapped and equipped with scanning devices employed as security precautions. Weaponry, ranging from single firearms to arsenals of high-powered weapons and explosives, are commonly found at laboratory sites.

Not only are methamphetamine laboratories used to manufacture illegal, often deadly drugs, but the clandestine nature of the manufacturing process and the presence of ignitable, corrosive, reactive, and toxic chemicals at the sites have resulted in explosions, fires, toxic fumes, and irreparable damage to human health and to the environment. Traditionally, the suppliers of methamphetamine throughout the United States have been outlaw motorcycle gangs and numerous other independent trafficking groups.

History of Meth

Although these groups continue to produce and distribute methamphetamine, organized crime drug groups operating from Mexico currently dominate wholesale methamphetamine trafficking in the United States for several reasons: these organizations established access to wholesale ephedrine sources of supply on the international market; these organizations are producing unprecedented quantities of high-purity methamphetamine on a regular basis; and, they already control well-established cocaine, heroin, and marijuana distribution networks throughout the western United States, enabling them to supply methamphetamine to a large retail level market.

Their expansion into the methamphetamine trade has added a new dimension to their role in the U. Presently, these organizations are poised to supply methamphetamine to the rest of the country in response to any increases in demand. In , there were reports in the West, Southwest, and the South of methamphetamine and ephedrine as emerging drugs. According to DEA sources, Mexican manufacturers and distributors have replaced the outlaw motorcycle groups which had produced methamphetamine supplies for over twenty years.


The new manufacturers are producing large quantities of high purity methamphetamine on both sides of the border, drawing on the legal supply of the precursor chemicals on the Mexican side. In Washington State, sources report that the resultant price increase has caused a number of methamphetamine users in that area to switch to cocaine.

Ephedrine tablets can be purchased in Mexico and are often seized at the border or in other locations in transit to U.


Adverse consequences of their use include agitation, palpitations, and fainting from the stimulant effect. Methamphetamine continues to be popular in San Francisco. This is similar to the population of users described by the Los Angeles source. Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug that can be manufactured by using products commercially available anywhere in the United States.

The chemicals used in producing methamphetamine are extremely volatile, and the amateur chemists running makeshift laboratories — often in hotels or areas where children are present — cause deadly explosions and fires. The by-products of methamphetamine production are extremely toxic. Methamphetamine traffickers display no concern about environmental hazards when it comes to manufacturing and disposing of methamphetamine and its by-products.

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The effects of methamphetamine on humans are profound. Since the passage of the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of , the Drug Enforcement Administration has reported a sharp decline in domestic meth lab seizures, but drug cartels continue to meet demand by manufacturing meth in Mexico and smuggling it across the border. During the early s, methamphetamine was sold in the U. Food and Drug Administration restricted its sale to physician prescriptions. Larrick told reporters that the FDA had received reports of meth abuse in , almost three times the 54 cases from , and only five a year in , and In , methamphetamine was regulated in the Controlled Substances Act , and a public education campaign was mounted against it.

In the s, drug treatment counselors saw increased use of the drug among men who have sex with men. Mexican drug manufacturers began bringing methamphetamine north of the border, and forms of methamphetamine that could be smoked were introduced. In , laws were passed in the United States prohibiting possession of precursors and equipment for methamphetamine production.

In , the U. Despite this, use of methamphetamine expanded from its initial base in California throughout the rural United States, especially through the Midwest and South. Meth use is said to be particularly rampant in the American western states, where the substance is in high demand. States like Montana , South Dakota , Idaho , Colorado and Arizona have all launched extensive efforts — both private and public — to fight the meth menace.

Since , five U. Methamphetamine can be produced in home laboratories using pseudoephedrine or ephedrine , which, at the time, were the active ingredients in over-the-counter drugs such as Sudafed and Contac. Purchasers have been limited to buying small quantities and required to show I.

In the s, new ways to synthesize methamphetamine appeared. Some new versions were reported to be four to six times stronger. Greatest use was seen in the Southwest and West United States, but methamphetamine use began and grew in the rural Midwest. Rural locations become ideal for cooking of methamphetamine because of geographic isolation and an available supply of ephedrine, pseudoephedrine and anhydrous ammonia. Attorney General Janet Reno was very outspoken in warning mayors, police chiefs and the Judicial and Executive branches of the Federal government and as a Florida States' Attorney about the dangers of meth -amphetamines as early as and before.

History of Methamphetamine

She was reported by the Orlando Sentinel as commenting that illegal trafficking in methamphetamine, a dangerous and powerful stimulant, had been spreading rapidly across the United States. As a result of the U. Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of CMEA , which was passed as an amendment to the renewal of the USA PATRIOT Act , [9] there are restrictions on the amount of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine one may purchase in a specified time period and further requirements that these products must be stored in order to prevent theft.

Purchasers are limited to "3. Buying more than that is a federal misdemeanor. In , Congress passed the Comprehensive Methamphetamine Control Act , which regulates mail order and chemical companies selling precursor chemicals. For example, people purchasing large quantities of red phosphorus, iodine and hydrochloric gas were required to document that they intended them for legitimate purposes.