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A Look at the History of Meth in WWII

Connection Between Meth and WWII

Methamphetamine is an addictive stimulant that works by affecting the central nervous system, causing feelings of euphoria and pleasure.

Meth is an odorless, bitter-tasting powder that can be smoked or dissolved into a liquid. In addition to the euphoric effects that attract users, methamphetamine also causes increased energy and decreased appetite. Stronger than amphetamines, a small dosage of this drug can produce long-lasting and intense side effects. As a Delaware rehab center, we understand the history of meth and why it’s been used in the past for a variety of reasons. Our team is exploring the use of meth in WWII as well as the role this intense stimulant played in Nazi Germany.

How Methamphetamine Became Part of World War II

Methamphetamine was released commercially in Germany in 1938 after being synthesized in the country the year prior.1 It was originally used to treat narcolepsy, asthma, weight loss, and nasal congestion. When methamphetamine hit the German markets under the name of Pervitin in the 1930s, it was considered a miracle drug. Despite the discouragement of recreational drug use at the time, meth usage in Nazi Germany became common amongst those fighting in the war.

Pervitin was the early version of methamphetamine and was given to compound fighters and pilots to keep them alert for days at a time. Meth’s ability to boost energy, reduce fatigue, decrease appetite, and produce an overall sense of well-being made it a beneficial substance for soldiers in Nazi Germany. Unlike alcohol or heroin, meth wasn’t considered a recreational drug but rather a substance meant for physical enhancement. It was considered the perfect war drug.

Adolf Hitler is known for his horrible crimes against humanity, which were fueled by his intense desire to uphold a certain race. It’s no wonder he encouraged the use of methamphetamine amongst his soldiers when its effects were discovered. As a stimulant, it was thought to increase the average person’s ability and help to create “superhuman soldiers.” These soldiers were eventually considered machines and were continuously given Pervitin in order to keep them moving constantly.

Unfortunately, the dangers of meth were ignored for several decades. Continuous Pervitin use in Nazi Germany led to many cases of meth-related overdoses and deaths. Many soldiers died from heart failure or overdose, while others committed suicide during psychotic episodes. Due to a lack of medically monitored detox and addiction treatments, soldiers who developed methamphetamine addictions struggled with withdrawal symptoms and other side effects like hallucinations, psychosis, and depression. It wasn’t until the 1970s that meth became illegal in the United States.

Long-Term Effects of Meth in WWII

Methamphetamine usage during this time period had adverse effects on people's physical and mental health, which raised serious concerns about its long-term implications.

Consequences of meth abuse experienced by the Nazis include:

  • Physical deterioration: Long-term methamphetamine addicts experienced serious physical deterioration. The stimulant qualities of the medicine raised blood pressure and pulse rate, potentially resulting in cardiovascular problems.
  • Psychological disturbances: Regular methamphetamine use has the potential to seriously disrupt one's mental health. Increased anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations among users led to unpredictable conduct and judgment.
  • Cognitive impairment: Chronic methamphetamine use resulted in cognitive impairment, which had an impact on memory, attention, and general cognitive performance.
  • Malnutrition and weight loss: Due to the appetite-suppressing effects of Pervitin, users neglected good nutrition, which led to weight loss and malnutrition.
  • Sleep disturbances: Insomnia and sleep difficulties were brought on by meth's stimulant properties, which also raised the possibility of mental health problems and tiredness.
  • Social disintegration: Prolonged meth use led to social disintegration because of the adverse effects it had on users' relationships with friends, family, and coworkers.

These effects underline the serious ramifications of using such drugs in a military setting and emphasize how crucial it is to identify and treat substance misuse problems in both troops and civilians.

Did Hitler Use Methamphetamine?

Yes, there is evidence that the notorious leader of Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler, used methamphetamine throughout his rule.2 His consistent use of Pervitin, a methamphetamine-based stimulant, is suggested by historical reports and personal testimony from those close to him. Dr. Theodor Morell, Hitler's personal physician, gave him prescriptions for a number of drugs, including Pervitin, to treat a variety of medical conditions. Methamphetamine use is thought to have contributed to Hitler's unpredictable behavior, mood swings, and increased energy which were seen in his later years.

It is important to note that historians continue to argue the extent of Hitler's methamphetamine usage and that obtaining tangible evidence may be difficult given the passage of time and the secrecy of Nazi Germany. However, there is significant evidence from historical documents and accounts that methamphetamine was actually a part of Hitler's treatment plan when he was in power.

The connection between meth and WWII proves how little was known about drug addiction at the time. Nowadays, meth is known by many as an addictive and harmful drug. Many individuals who develop a meth dependency require meth addiction treatment in order to become sober. At Banyan Treatment Centers Delaware, we offer a residential treatment program that separates addicts from the distractions of their home environments, allowing them to focus on their recovery. We also advise that they seek out care from our meth detox in Delaware to address any withdrawal symptoms that may present themselves.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, call Banyan’s Delaware drug rehab today at 888-280-4763 to learn how we can help you.


  1. NIH - Methamphetamine for Hitler's Germany: 1937 to 1945
  2. History - Inside the Drug Use That Fueled Nazi Germany

Related Reading:

Can You Get a Contact High From Meth?

Does Meth Make You Constipated?

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.