Dangerous Street Drugs That Your Doctor Can Totally Prescribe Right Now

Published September 12, 2017
Updated May 4, 2018

Meth: Great For Kids! Says The FDA

Prescription Drugs Ritalin

Wikimedia Commons

The first water-soluble methamphetamine was synthesized by Japanese chemists in 1919, and when it first hit the market, it seemed like a wonder drug.

All through the 1930s, German pharmaceutical manufacturers were churning out the drug under the name Pervitin in order to keep soldiers wide awake and hyper aggressive during long training rotations. By 1940, however, even the German army was getting a little nervous as soldiers high on speed were shooting prisoners and sometimes assaulting their own officers when they were told to back down.

Meanwhile, the Soviet Army, which used a cheaper form of the drug called Vint, noticed something similar among their men. It is a sobering thought to imagine 600,000 fighting men on both sides at the Battle of Stalingrad, hunkered down in the snow, all of them high on methamphetamines and eager to kill each other with whatever weapons were on hand.

Prescription Drugs Pervitin

Karl-Ludwig Poggemann/Flickr

After the war, methamphetamine became a popular recreational drug for Beats like Allen Ginsberg. For a taste of the frame of mind that methamphetamine induces, consider these lines from Ginsberg’s seminal poem, “Howl”:

“Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery dawns, wine drunkenness over the rooftops, storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree vibrations in the roaring winter dusks of Brooklyn, ashcan rantings and kind king light of mind,
who chained themselves to subways for the endless ride from Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine until the noise of wheels and children brought them down shuddering mouth-wracked and battered bleak of brain all drained of brilliance in the drear light of Zoo,
who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford’s floated out and sat through the stale beer afternoon in desolate Fugazzi’s, listening to the crack of doom on the hydrogen jukebox,
who talked continuously seventy hours from park to pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brooklyn Bridge. . .”

…and so on.

Prescription Drugs Adderall Calculus

Scott Akerman/Flickr

But methamphetamine wasn’t just used by artists like Ginsberg. Because the drug can elicit in users an intense focus and eagerness to work, it became a natural choice for treating attention deficit disorder. Ritalin, the go-to drug for unruly first-grade boys, is administered in tablet form and undergoes an elaborate breakdown process in the human body. Eventually, it converts into Dextroamphetamine, the active ingredient in meth.

Today, around 5 million Americans have filled at least one prescription for Ritalin or Adderall, with maybe five percent of children being diagnosed with ADHD. These numbers are way up from where they were 20 years ago, and with aggressive marketing pushes by drug companies — with some ads featuring celebrities like Adam Levine — prescription meth is finding more and more off-label uses, such as suppressing appetite and “increasing alertness.”

To be clear, the family of drugs that includes Ritalin, Adderall, and Vyvanse metabolizes into the same stuff that authorities started the “Faces of Meth” campaign to discourage the use of — and any licensed doctor in America can prescribe it to children for fidgeting in their seats.

Richard Stockton
Richard Stockton is a freelance science and technology writer from Sacramento, California.