Looking for the Next Drug Menace


In my book Saying Yes, I describe how the title of Most Addictive Drug rotates from one substance to another over the years. The reigning champion right now still seems to be methamphetamine, which Bill Clinton declared "the crack of the '90s." Eric Sterling recently pointed me to an A.P. story about meth in which a North Carolina sheriff declares, "This thing is worse than heroin. It's worse than crack."

By now such claims are so familiar that you have to wonder which drug will be declared worse than meth. What is the "meth of the '00s"? Surely it can't be meth.

Searches on Google and Nexis suggest a contender. "We have the beginning of an epidemic out there that's as bad or worse than meth," a mayoral candidate told the Salt Lake City Weekly in 2000. Two years later, a local principal told the Des Moines Register, "I fear this is going to be worse than meth or crack."

Name that drug. Hint: It's not OxyContin.

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  1. It`s CRAWFISH BOUDIN, just can`t stay away from it.

  2. here’s the best:

    “…the high of politicians? drug rhetoric may be bigger than the public?s fear of drugs. In the War on Drugs, that may be the hardest addiction to kick.”

  3. here’s the best:

    “…the high of politicians? drug rhetoric may be bigger than the public?s fear of drugs. In the War on Drugs, that may be the hardest addiction to kick.”

  4. X?

    You mean, like that drug people have been taking for over three decades? That has been hugely popular for at least a decade? Maybe in Salt Lake City it’s something new and scary, but I doubt it. A friend of mine was introduced to crack in SLC in the eighties. They’re not as far behind the curve as one would guess, just because they have weird alcohol laws.

    No way is X the Next Drug Menace. It’s been being cracked down on for a long time. That the Patriot Act and the RAVE law allows them to crack down harder probably has something to do with the stepped up arrests, and that might make the numbers *appear* to be increasing. I doubt if they really are, though.

    At least they’re going after white people for a change. A silver lining in every cloud. But even that’s not new with all the pot smokers clogging the prisons.

    America sucks *so* much.

  5. I thought it was statism, which breeds such interference in individual choices.
    (Actually, that was second to dihydrogen monoxide, but Pavel beat me to it.)

  6. Nothing is as lethal and menacing as the ONDCP anti-drug commercials. A few people have actually died from laughter after seeing these ads.

  7. Perhaps we should internationalize this heroic effort by aligning the “Most Addictive Drug” rotation with that of the UN’s rotation of the Security Council Chairmanship?

  8. “At least they’re going after white people for a change. A silver lining in every cloud.”

    What the ??? I’m white. That’s not good.

  9. My vote for the latest evil, addictive scourge is carbohydrates. America sure does seem to be frettin’ about ’em.

    As far as X being used for 3 decades, wasn’t it created in Germany in the mid-eighties?

  10. Nicotine, it’s gotta be nicotine.

  11. B.P. – this is all off the top of my head, but I think it’s mostly right. IIRC, it was first synthesized in the teens in Germany and tried out as a diet aid, fell off the map and was then rediscovered by famed psychopharmacologist Alexander Shulgin in the ’70s, I forget which. From there it went into psychiatric usage for a while, where it was found useful in enabling and speeding up talk therapy and in allowing patients to think about and discuss major trauma without pain. It started to get some media exposure and isolated recreational use in the ’80s which picked up when a breakoff faction of the “Boston Group” which synthesized most of America’s MDMA set up camp in Texas and started selling the stuff in bars and nightclubs.

    By way of Texas and the gay clubs in Chicago and New York, it got into the American and then European club scene, most importantly the Spanish resort island of Ibiza, which gets a lot of British tourists. There it got connected with “Acid House” dance music, which mostly in Britain evolved into the precursor of the modern rave scene, which reexported the culture and the associated drug use (of course, dance music’s always been linked to the hip new chemistry of the day, so this wasn’t entirely new) to America.

  12. B.P., IIRC it was used as psychiatric drug (mostly for marriage counseling) in the 70s.

  13. Personally, I think dihydrogen monoxide is the new meth.

    Definitely. That stuff is way more addictive than meth. Withdrawal symptoms can be fatal.

  14. Germany… 1980’s… I guess my brain just cut out the middle part of the X story.

  15. Time to lay off the X B.P. 🙂

  16. Wasn’t Ecstasy the *last* big drug menace before meth? By my recollection, it went (from the mid-1980s to the present): cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, meth.

  17. X in the ’80’s. Oh yeah I remember…um…SEEING it way back when, circa 1984.

    It used to be “Acid House” rather than Rave, back in the day. The idea was to take acid and dance all night, but it’s hard to dance ALL NIGHT without at little something.

    My understanding was that X was, and is, essentially, Acid mixed with Meth.

    By the way, in San Diego, and immediate environs, Crystal Meth was the drug of the Eighties. Latin Americans had cocaine production monopolized south of the border. Dealers and smugglers in border areas needed something they could cook in their own bath tubs. No need to worry about the cartels or U.S. Customs, etc. Call it entrepreneurship.

    It was a lot less expensive than cocaine derivitives too as I re…um…was told.

  18. IMO, the height of the most recent ecstasy scare was in 2000-2001, when it was the subject of much media hype and an ONDCP campaign. antecdotal reports from dancesafe volunteers working at clubs and parties indicate that the sale and use of ecstasy has declined since late 2001. i think its time as the next drug menace has come and gone already. though, ABC is airing a special on it at the end of this month so i could be wrong.

    ken, ecstasy is it’s own chemical, MDMA. it is chemically similar to meth, but not to LSD, and the effects are different than either drug.

  19. Saturated Fat?



    Postage stamp glue?

    Maybe a resurgence of HEROIN!!!???

  20. Hahaha, my guess was right!

    I won’t post the answer, but it can be found here.

  21. Being involved with MAPS myself, I sadly didn’t have to click the link to know.

    I’m glad to say, however, that there’s a lot more people standing up for this possible “meth of the 00’s” than ever stood up for heroin or crack.

  22. Oh, but it’s true, isn’t it? It’s way worse than meth. I heard that it killed half the apes that took it, caused permanent brain damage in the rest, and causes Parkinson’s in all humans after just one dose. And this was a serious government funded study by real scientists and everything!

    Oops. Slight correction. Nothing to see here. Move along.

  23. Personally, I think dihydrogen monoxide is the new meth.

  24. That’s an epidemic? For which lilly-livered pussies could [*] (I’ll play along) possibly rank alongside the crack and meth fiasco?

    The human race is softening into a soulless mass of fear and stupidity. How sad, we had such potential.

  25. Oh, it was a trick question. To me all the amphetamine derivatives are in the same class. This one just happens to be preferred by people who started with decent teeth. I’ll wait for heroin. It’s so retro.

  26. My guess is frapochino. Just try taking it away from some yuppee and see how addictive it really is.

    “It’s the alchohol of the 3rd millenium.”
    says MADD

    “It’s the windapane of the 2000’s.”
    say former dead-heads, who should definitely know.

    “It’s the mary-jane of 90’s, … wait but this ain’t the nineties, what the …., man it takes a clear mind to make it …” say many Reason HitAndRun posters

  27. Is it Swank? You know, it’s 10 times more addictive than marijuana.

  28. There’s a new high on the street, goes by the name of SPANK. Some wiseguy’s been introducing this trash to my girls down Portland Harbor. Go and introduce a bat to his face! Then take his car and respray it. I want compensation for this insult!

  29. It is, as always, Religion.

  30. so what’s the answer?

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