As usual, my Sunday afternoon was spent perusing the New York Times Magazine - this week it has a feature by David Sheff on his struggle with his son Nick's meth addiction (registration required). Most striking was how much meth just took over Nick's life:
The following passage also struck me:
At the University of California at Berkeley, Nick almost immediately began dealing to pay for his escalating meth habit. After three months, he dropped out, claiming that he had to pull himself together. I encouraged him to check into a drug-rehabilitation facility, but he refused. (He was over 18, and I could not commit him.) He disappeared. When he finally called after a week, his voice trembled. It nonetheless brought a wave of relief - he was alive. I drove to meet him in a weedy and garbage-strewn alleyway in San Rafael. My son, the svelte and muscular swimmer, water-polo player and surfer with an ebullient smile, was bruised, sallow, skin and bone, and his eyes were vacant black holes. Ill and rambling, he spent the next three days curled up in bedMeth seems like a truly all-consuming drug. Recently, OregonLive.com had a visually shocking photo feature on the "Faces of Meth" - the drug really seems to eat at people from the inside, aging them at 10 times the normal rate.
The following passage also struck me:
[Nick's] heroes, including Holden Caulfield and Atticus Finch, were replaced by an assortment of misanthropes, addicts, drunks, depressives and suicides, role models like Burroughs, Bukowski, Cobain, Hemingway and Basquiat. Other children watched Disney and ''Star Wars,'' but Nick preferred Scorsese, David Lynch and Godard.Wow, that could be my own teenage heroes list. Not that that's unusual - if you're a film buff, chances are you're into Scorsese, Lynch, and Godard as well; if you grew up in the early 90s, chances are you idolised Cobain at some point.
“Methamphetamine is a powerful central nervous system stimulant.” (“Methamphetamine FAQ” 1) It promptly works on the brain and spinal cord by interfering with normal neurotransmitters, which are chemical substances that communicate and regulate our thinking and all other systems throughout the body. Dopamine, what makes you feel pleasure, is the main neurotransmitter affected by meth. There is a high potential for abuse and dependence with meth use. That is why meth is highly addictive because users feel extreme depression after the “crash” of coming down off the drug. People feel like they need to keep doing more to be in the feel good state and to feel normal (“Methamphetamine FAQ” 6). The releasing of too much dopamine is very hard on your body because it has a hard time producing more. That is why users of meth feel so depressed when they come down off the drug because their brain has ran out of the dopamine neurotransmitters. I really don’t know why someone would want to do that to themselves and put their body through such harsh conditions. Feeling depressed is not an enjoyable experience.
People start using meth to heighten physical activity and mental performance. All types of people are using and abusing meth. They range from students both in high school and college, athletes, white and blue collar workers and unemployed people. They do it to work extra shifts and to stay energized. Often times, women will use meth to lose weight (“Methamphetamine FAQ” 3-4). My nephew’s father, Al, has been addicted to meth for over three years now, and he has totally changed as a person. He stays up for days on end and he is constantly running around. He talks to himself and tries doing ten different things at once. He often loses things because he can’t remember where he put them. The effects of the central nervous system that users feel when on meth can produce euphoria, increase alertness, paranoia, decrease in appetite, irritability, extreme nervousness, insomnia, confusion, tremors, anxiety, aggression, incessant talking, hyperthermia, and convulsions. When Al would be really high on meth he would be very paranoid, any little noise he heard he would think that the cops were after him. I would ask him a question about something and he would have no idea what I was talking about. Sometimes, he would be so high that you could not even understand what he was saying; it sounded like a bunch mumble-jumble when he talked. It got to the point to where I stopped talking to him because he did not make any sense to me at all. The use can produce chest pain and hypertension resulting in cardiovascular collapse and death. Meth also causes elevated blood pressure and can cause irreversible damage to blood vessels in the brain. Physical effects include pupil dilation, tooth grinding, impaired speech, respiratory disorders, dry or itchy skin, dizziness, loss of appetite, sweating, acne, sores, and numbness. Extensive use of meth abuse resembles those of schizophrenia and are characterized by paranoia, anger, panic, auditory and visual hallucinations, repetitive behavior patterns, and delusions of parasites or insects on the skin. It also induces homicidal or suicidal thoughts. Long-term consequences also include deadly kidney and lung disorders, brain and liver damage, blood clots, hallucinations, violent and aggressive behavior, chronic depression, malnutrition, inadequate immune system, disturbed personality development, and methamphetamine psychosis, which resembles schizophrenia (“Methamphetamine FAQ” 5). The long-term effects of meth sound really bad. Why would someone want to do that to there body. Obviously, the people that use meth have a low self-esteem and don’t care about their life that much.
The deadly toxins that are used to make meth causes excessive amounts of damage to the users and to the people around them. Some of the ingredients used to make meth include your every day common cold medicine that contains ephedrine, paint thinner, ammonia, alcohol, ether, hydrochloric acid, battery acid, gasoline, antifreeze, Drano, rat poison, and many other dangerous chemicals. There are literally thousands of recipes for meth (“Living near a meth lab” 2). The recipes can be found right on the internet. Parents of adolescent children should check the internet to see what websites their children are looking at. In 2001, I worked at a Menard’s, and one thing that we were trained as cashiers was to watch for ingredients and tools used to make meth. If someone did purchase these materials a cashier would follow the customer outside and write down their license plate and then call the police. I was surprised by this and that is when I started realizing how serious the meth epidemic was.
Meth labs can be found anywhere you can possibly think of. These labs exist in areas like rural, suburban, urban, residential, commercial, and industrial. They can be found in houses, apartments, trailers, campers, cabins, ice shacks, barns, in the trunk of cars, motel rooms, boats, even luggage, or just about virtually any enclosed place to store all the instruments and ingredients to make the drug (“Living near a meth lab” 1). These labs are known as clandestine labs or “mom and pop” labs (“Methamphetamine FAQ” 2). They are very portable and are cause great danger to the people around them. The extremely flammable chemicals that are use to make meth can blow up with one wrong move. Explosions of meth labs can harm or even kill innocent people. Ways to detect a meth lab is to look for: unusual strong odors, residences with blacked out windows, renters who pay in cash, lots of traffic or people coming and going at unusual times, excessive trash, unusual clear glass containers brought into the home, secretive or protective area surrounding the residence, persons exiting the structure to smoke, little or no mail, furniture, or visible trash. Things to look for in the excessive amounts of trash are antifreeze containers, lantern fuel cans, red chemically stained coffee filters, drain cleaner, and duct tape. The equipment used in meth productions consists of aluminum foil, blenders, cheesecloth, clamps, coffee filters, funnels, gas cans, ice chests, jugs and bottles, laboratory beakers and glassware, measuring cups, pails, paper towels, plastic storage containers, propane cylinders, rubber gloves, rubber tubing, strainers, tape, thermometer, and towels and bed sheets (“Methamphetamine FAQ” 2). If you notice any of your neighbors, household members, or even a person in a store buying excessive amounts of these products or suspect a meth lab you should call your local police department immediately to let them know so they can further investigate the situation. The average meth “cook” annually teach ten other people how to make the drug (“Methamphetamine FAQ” 2). About six years ago, when I was a junior in high school, some of my peers would look up how to make meth on the internet. I just thought they were joking around, but I recently found out that one of them did get busted for having a meth lab in a hunting cabin. You should take what people look up seriously, because you never know what might happen next.
Meth generates danger to people and to the environment we live in. I have seen one to many times on the news about people who have meth labs in their homes with children. This is extremely dangerous and can cause permanent damage to the children. They can get skin sores, respiratory problems, and sore eyes from being in an environment with toxic chemicals. There are explosions and fires that are triggered by the illegal manufacture of meth, car accidents, increased criminal activity, and environmental contamination. Nick could have been committing crimes when he disappeared from the family. That could possibly explain why he was bruised up. When users are on meth there is an increase in domestic violence. For each pound of meth produced it leaves behind fix or six pounds of toxic waste. The meth cooks often pour left over chemicals and byproduct sludge down drains in nearby plumbing, storm drains, or even directly into the ground. Some of the toxic products used to make meth pose long-term hazards they can endure in the soil and ground water for years (“Methamphetamine FAQ” 7). This could have serious effects on the drinking water and vegetation in future generations. Cleanups of meth labs are tremendously resource-intensive and beyond the financial capabilities of most jurisdictions. The costs to clean up a meth lab cite range from about $5,000 to $150,000 (“Methamphetamine FAQ” 8). These meth labs are costing governments a lot of money that could be spent on other things like helping out the Hurricane Katrina victims and rebuilding the cities that affected. It just kills me on how much money the government spends on drug cites and to incarcerate dealers and users.
Celebrities have influenced peoples’ lives for centuries. Children and adolescents are especially inspired by celebrities. They can encourage people to do good things in life but at the same time they also can induce bad things, for example using meth. In Nick’s case, his role models like Cobain and Hemingway. Those celebrities were depressed and down in life. It’s no wonder that Nick desired Meth. Jodie Sweetin, the actress who played Stephanie Tanner on the sitcom “Full House”, was addicted to meth. She said she was bored while she was unemployed, so she began experimenting with meth. Her addiction wrecked her marriage and concerned her friends. Her “Full House” co-stars, including Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, John Stamos, and Bob Saget, had an intervention with her to get her help by going to rehab. She attended a six-week intense rehab clinic and claims she’s been clean ever since (“New York Post Entertainment News” 1-2). A lot of people admired her growing up, I know I did. I thought she was funny, smart, and very responsible, but now after knowing that she was a meth addict I lost a respect for her. Duane Chapman, also known as “Dog the Bounty Hunter”, whose son Taggart is serving hard time for robbery committed to finance a meth habit he had, and Dog’s fiancé` Beth (David Borden, “Editorial” 1). This is really bad because this family is out catching bad guys that commit crimes and yet they are doing crimes themselves. What is that saying to people? I think if you are a celebrity you should have a little more dignity not only for yourself but for your admirers.
The personalities of frequent meth abusers juristically changes. They don’t care about things that were once important to them like their families, jobs, or even personal interests or hobbies. In Minnesota, a paranoid mother left her baby in a freezing apartment after she fled town in a stolen while on a meth binge (“Illegal Drug Use” 1). I watched a friend’s dreams go down the tubes after becoming addicted to meth. She had a good job, went to school, and had her own apartment. She was living a good life until she met a guy who was a frequent user of meth; and she started experimenting with it.
Before she knew it she was addicted. She stopped calling me and hanging out with me because she did not want me to see her like that. She stopped going to classes and was missing work occasionally. I was really worried about her. I went over to her apartment to try to talk some sense into her and there were peculiar people over there and they had surveillance cameras set up. I was shocked by the whole thing. She looked horrible, her eyes were sunken in and had really dark circles around them, her skin looked really unhealthy and her face was kind of withering, and she was skin and bones. It didn’t look like she was eating or taking very good care of herself. She ended up getting evicted from her apartment and quitting school because she could not afford to pay for them; all she cared about was getting high off meth. I felt really bad for her because she had a lot of potential, and she lost it. I tried to help, but you can only do so much and the person has to want the help. Meth may cause users personal hygiene to decline. It also decreases their blood flow, causing an itching sensation that causes them to scratch themselves repeatedly, leading to skin sores. Also, the decreased blood supply damages the soft tissue of the gums, and the chemicals in meth attack the tooth enamel, causing the teeth to decay from the gum line down, this is what is known as “meth mouth”, by dentists (“Meth Madness” 2). That is absolutely disgusting.
There are many resources to get help with a meth addiction.
To try and stop the meth epidemic the federal government is asking cities to join the “Operation Wildfire”. It is the largest nationally coordinated law enforcement effort designed to target all levels of the meth manufacturing and distribution chain in the United States and continue the fight against the spread of meth (“U.S. Department of Justice” 1). We as the citizens of this country need to start taking precautions and watching out for those people who are producing meth. We need to start watching our neighbors or even people in hardware stores that have a cartful of products to make meth. Meth manufacturing and use is getting out of control, so let’s put an end to it and take action. If you notice suspicious behaviors call your local police department and let them know. To find out more information on the dangers of meth visit www.justhinktwice.com. This will give you the realities of meth’s physical and emotional tolls on a person (“U.S. Department of Justice” 2).
Meth has destroyed thousands of peoples’ dreams and aspiration in life. Nick had a lot going for him by going to a really good college and participating in water polo. It sounded like he had a bright future ahead of him and then he let it all go by using meth. It totally consumed all his time and thoughts. The same thing is with Al, all he thinks about is where he is going to find his next high. Meth is being manufactured and abused all over the world and has become a serious epidemic in the United States. The celebrities in our lives influence us even if we don’t think that they are. We need to be careful who we look up to in life and make sure they are good people. We need to start taking a stand and stopping this crucial meth problem. Are you willing to help? I know I am.
Ladika, Susan. “Meth Madness.” HR Magazine 1 Dec 2004:
1-7. Natalie. Century College Library, White Bear Lake, MN. 25 July.
Kaplan, Don. “Full House’ Cutie: I was…meth addict” Entertainment News. 2 Feb. 2006.
Excite – Celebrity Gossip – New York Post 25 July 2006 http://entertainment.excite.com/celebgossip/pgsixceleb/id/02_02_2006_3.html
Borden, David. “Editorial: I was almost on TV last week.” 10 Feb. 2006 http://stopthedrugwar.org/chonicle/422/almoston.shtml
25 July 2006. http://stopthedrugwar.org/chonicle/422/almoston.html
Lopez, Yovanny. “Department of Justice Announces Results of Historic Meth Crackdown Operation.” U.S. Department of Justice. 30 Aug. 2005
24 July 2006. http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls/PressReleases/050830-01..
“Methampetamine FAQ.” KCI The Anti-Meth Site.
24 July 2006. http://www.kci.org/meth_info/faq_meth.htm
“Living near a methamphetamine lab.” KCI The Anti-Meth Site.
24 July 2006. http://www.kci.org/meth_info/neighborhood¬lab.htm.
Any drug problems Dog & Beth had, were left behind decades ago. His own past, as well as what had happened to his own son Tucker (and later daughter Barbara Katie)are the reasons why he tries so desperately hard to reform drug addicts, and why he has commited himself to fight a war against Ice in Hawaii.
Duane Chapman is to be praised for what he does. Please do some research on him, and see what I mean.