In the nineties comics appeared to very suddenly and very briefly develop a highly-ordered social conscience and someone realised that it’s hard for Captain America to take an anti-drug stance when he himself is a product of a performance-enhancing drug.
It starts when his tech guy, Fabian, starts taking meth in order to handle the heavy Avengers-oriented workload.
Cap gets him into rehab, but the meth-addled Fabian manages to get a jab in:
Captain America: not yet master of the witty retort.
Cap decides to TAKE DOWN the drug dealers selling meth in the street. He grabs a dealer, uses him to stalk a supplier, confronts the supplier in a warehouse full of drugs, and gets a little blown up.
But having just inhaled a NEAR LETHAL dose of meth, he feels AWESOME.
Nobody has yet figured out that Cap is high as a kite, though he’s certainly not acting like himself.
He goes hunting another supplier and even the dealers are like “What the hell, Captain America?”
Did…did Cap just taco-punch Black Widow in a meth-fueled rage?
That’s not going to go well for him.
Captain America only grows facial hair when something is truly, deeply wrong.
GDI CAP PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER.
Cap terrorizes Diamondback and beats the hell out of Daredevil, who are just trying to get him to calm his ass down. Eventually Black Widow manages to take him down using a point-blank Widow’s Sting, and everyone’s all YOU COULD HAVE BRAIN DAMAGED CAPTAIN AMERICA and she’s like “Fuck all y’all I am a professional he’s just stunned, btw YOU ARE WELCOME, ASSHOLES.”
When Cap regains consciousness he hallucinates that he’s being given the Serum all over again. He trashes the secure lab where he’s being held and Hank Pym finds him as he hits rock bottom.
A couple of things that should be mentioned here: while street methamphetamines are highly addictive and severely detrimental to your health and DON’T DO THEM, Cap didn’t actually take meth. He got dosed inadvertently. The super-soldier Serum is a performance-enhancing drug but a) has no negative side effects and b) HE’S NOT A BASEBALL PLAYER HE’S A SUPERHERO. So comparing the Serum to meth is a little like saying police officers shouldn’t drink milk because milk and cocaine are both white.
But we are in the age of DARE and Just Say No, so it’s a Very Special Episode kind of a deal. Hank has to filter both the meth and the serum out of his blood to detox him, and after a FULL BODY blood transfusion Cap decides to prove to himself that he can be a superhero without the Serum.
And the moral of the story is,
don’t get caught in an exploding warehouse full of meth Don’t Do Drugs.
Now, a couple of months later, either someone realised this was a stupid idea or Nancy Reagan stopped breathing down Marvel’s neck. Either way, they introduced a retcon: Cap may have said no to the Serum but eff you, the Serum does what it wants, and his body started producing it again naturally.
And that’s the story of the time Captain America got high and tried to beat the crap out of everyone.
[Images from Captain America #372 - #378, 1990; #384, 1991.]
This is far more terrifying than any of the grotesque anti-meth billboards I’ve ever seen.