Your Neighbor the Meth Head
If you believed everything you read about meth, youâ€™d think you could spot a user a mile a way. The sunken face, rotten teeth, scabby, picked-at lesions â€” classic hallmarks of the speed freak. And while thereâ€™s no denying the gruesome transformation many people undergo when they get hooked on this drug, there are some regular users who somehow maintain a semblance of normality despite their monthly, maybe weekly, even daily habit. John is one of those who can maintain. He works hard at his job, pays his bills, and might just live in your neighborhood. New Times caught up with him at a downtown SLO pub for a pint and a quick cruise down speed lane. Of course, â€œJohnâ€? is not his real name.
New Times: First off, have you
ever made meth?
John: No way. Making itâ€™s a whole different ballgame. Youâ€™d have to be a fuckinâ€™ tweaker to want to mess with that shit in your home. Itâ€™s not that easy to make, and itâ€™s way too easy to buy.
Here in SLO?
Basically, yeah, all Iâ€™d have to do is make a call.
Are a lot of people here using it?
More than you would ever believe. Itâ€™s everywhere â€” working people, partyers, moms, teenagers, good people, bad people.
Have you ever sold it?
Not here, no. But I used to, back East. It wasnâ€™t as easy to get it out there a few years ago and itâ€™s pretty easy to travel with. Iâ€™d take some crystal and put it in a bottle of water. It dissolves clear. Then Iâ€™d get on a plane to the East Coast, pour it in a baking pan, and stick it in the oven till the water cooked down and it recrystalized. It was going for a hundred bucks a gram.
Why did you start using?
I wasnâ€™t getting high off coke anymore, and then I tried speed and it was like comparing lamp oil to jet fuel. That was maybe five or six years ago. I was 26 or 27.
What was so great about it?
Everything. It made me feel great.
Whatâ€™s the worst thing about it?
It can make you very paranoid, which isnâ€™t very attractive. Itâ€™s bad for relationships. And as far as jobs go â€” if youâ€™ve got an hour before you have to go to work and youâ€™re crashed, youâ€™re not going to wake up. Youâ€™re basically unreliable, and people donâ€™t really like that.
Are you a regular user?
I used pretty much daily for maybe four years or so. I guess you could say now that Iâ€™m a â€œprofessional user.â€?
When was the last time you used?
Maybe three weeks ago. It was pretty mellow.
So would you recommend meth to a friend?
No fucking way. Iâ€™ve even tried to get my friends to clean up. This shit is bad all the way around.
But you still use it?
Yeah, I canâ€™t explain. Itâ€™s not good for me. I mean, I can pull it off, but in the long run itâ€™s going to mess with me. Iâ€™ll wind up in jail, or lose my job, lose my old lady â€” God knows what. Drugs are illegal for a reason.
Okay, so whoâ€™s a tweaker?
Theyâ€™re lowlifes stealing shit to buy drugs. I would never hang out with those guys. I donâ€™t like thieves. Iâ€™ve never stolen something to get my dope. Iâ€™ve had it fronted when I didnâ€™t have any money, and I pay it back, no matter what the interest. But I donâ€™t go out and steal shit. Iâ€™m not a telltale user. Iâ€™m a hard-working guy.
How do you feel about people who have kids and use meth?
I know people who have their shit together. They have kids, but they regularly use. If theyâ€™re going to work every day, and they take care of their kids, theyâ€™re not fuckinâ€™ losers. You can do the drug as a daily user, but once it affects your work, then youâ€™ve got to get control over it. Either you party with it or youâ€™re using daily or itâ€™s your fuckinâ€™ job and it has control over your life. If you can do it and still do what you have to do to be a human, then I donâ€™t have a problem
Is meth the kind of drug that allows that?
I donâ€™t know. I think itâ€™s really rare. But anythingâ€™s possible.
What if someone offered you some right now?
Iâ€™d say: Is it good?
And youâ€™d do it?
If it was good? Hell yes, Iâ€™d do it.
What You Can Expect from Your Homemade Meth
â€¢ Focus and concentration like youâ€™ve never had. Rebuild your carâ€™s engine, clean your home from top to bottom, pay all your bills and completely reorganize your household filing system, add every person you know to your e-mail address book â€” the possibilities are limitless!
â€¢ Increased self-confidence, heightened sensuality, and an overall sensation of euphoria. The world is yours for the taking. Meet, greet, and sleep with more people than you ever imagined.
â€¢ Superhuman strength that will enable you to climb mountains and even fall from them without ever feeling a moment of pain.
â€¢ Panic, paranoia, and hallucinations. Are your neighbors watching you? Do monsters hide in your bedroom walls? Cover the windows and grab a rifle â€” everybodyâ€™s out to get you. No joke.
â€¢ Sleeplessness leading to full-blown insomnia. After a week or so, youâ€™ll feel like the living dead, but do a little more meth and youâ€™ll hardly notice.
â€¢ Dry, itchy skin, acne, and weird sores. Youâ€™ll want to pick at these obsessively. (See focus and concentration above.)
â€¢ Accelerated tooth decay. Itâ€™s caused by a combination of all those nasty chemicals, methâ€™s extreme â€œdry mouth,â€? and uncontrollable, nonstop tooth-grinding. The good news: Slamming speed (injecting it) greatly reduces the rate of tooth decay.
â€¢ Violent, aggressive behavior. Beating babies is not uncommon, nor are suicidal thoughts and assaults on police officers, who are, after all, out to get you.
â€¢ Depression, anxiety, nervousness, fatigue, hair loss, liver damage, kidney disorders, memory loss, death.
Meth Fun Facts
A simple meth recipe can turn a $50 investment in cold pills and chemicals into an $8,000- to $10,000 profit.
â€¢ Law enforcement agencies have seized labs in all 50 states.
â€¢ Meth labs have been found in homes, hotel rooms, abandoned buildings, trailers, garages, sheds, moving vans, car trunks, and even in backpacks.
â€¢ A pound of meth produces five to seven pounds of toxic waste as a byproduct.
â€¢ Depending on the size of the lab, toxic-waste cleanup of an abandoned lab site can cost up to $100,000. In most cases, property owners are solely responsible for costs.
â€¢ Small meth labs account for more explosions, fires, uncontrolled hazardous-waste dumping, and child endangerment than large â€œsuper labs.â€?
â€¢ An average of five people in the U.S. die every year as a result of working in meth labs.
â€¢ One out of every six labs discovered is found because of an explosion or fire.
â€¢ An estimated 1.4 million Americans used meth in 2005.
â€¢ More than 75 percent of all drug-treatment admissions in California is meth-related. Meth recovery rates hover around six percent.
â€¢ Last week an 18-year-old man from Los Osos was sentenced to 16 years in prison for raping and beating his 60-year-old stepmother while under the influence of methamphetamine.
Sources: Partnership for a Drug-Free America, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Department of Justice
Contact Staff Writer Alice Moss at firstname.lastname@example.org.