Meth: and the walking dead.
It is not unlike having a child who falls off the second floor balcony and splits their head open on the sidewalk below. No matter how much you hope, no matter how much you wish, no matter how much you pray – they will never be the same. And for the rest of your life, you will cling to the memories of your fishing trip together, or their basketball games, camping trips, or the long table at Thanksgiving with your family and friends and smiles. On the day that someone you care about tries Meth for the first time, you will look back on that moment as the turning point in your life with him or her, and its devastating turn for the worse. With a foreboding sense of sorrow and loss, you will become the victim and persecutor both.
Australian Prime minister Tony Abbott in 2015: “The trouble with ice is that it’s far more potent, far more dangerous, far more addictive than any previous illicit drug. It’s worse than heroin, it’s worse than cocaine, it’s worse than LSD, it’s worst than ecstasy – it’s much more addictive, much more dangerous, much more damaging, The chances of being able to function while being a serious ice user are almost zero. This is a drug epidemic way beyond anything we have seen before now”. In South Africa – Ice, called “Tik” is so powerful in its ability to destabilize communities of users, it is peddled by foreign governments as a strategy.
On July 27, 2016 Federal Officers at the Reynosa, Mexico/Texas border crossing seized 72 pounds of Methamphetamine worth about 1.5 million on the street. And as they must, they pat themselves on the back for what they found, have a press conference to tout their success, and give thanks to all involved. On August 27, 2016, another 91 pounds in Brownsville – another press release – but the reality, of course, is far bleaker. Ok – we got a load, but the other twenty plus plus made it through that week. The press conference from the cartel, “It’s just the cost of doing business.”
Meth is a global problem and instead of just smuggled bails of moldy weed or sailing across the Gulf in a semi-submersible boat hauling cocaine – Meth is on the cartels fancy menu of big loads. With cigarettes, if you start them young, you are hooked for life at $5.90 a pack. With meth – you start it any time and not only is the relapse rate 90%, these poor folks will Meth themselves into prison, mental illness or an early grave and not even know it. The systems our governments have in place to deal with it all are wholly inadequate. Families are left to wing it.
Meth is a global problem; it’s a problem for our Nation, for Texas and Hays County too.
Unlike cocaine, unlike heroin, and unlike any other illicit drug – Methamphetamine causes permanent damage to the brain and its intricate balance of chemistry that makes us who we are. The human brain is the most fantastic creation we can possibly imagine. Is the seat of our personality, of our perceptions, feelings, dreams and loves and it is the motivator of everything that we do throughout our entire lifetime. It’s the most important and the most complex set of biochemical reactions our universe can offer. Yes, we are indeed resilient, and these old bodies can take a lifetime of abuse and somehow keep on going for a little bit longer. Our brain, however; is not so keen to repair itself. Once you damage your brain’s chemistry – and then you look across the landscape, it just isn’t the same any more. You can’t smile, can’t laugh, can’t remember, don’t perceive things right, have a short temper, don’t really know who your friends are, who you can trust, can’t feel joy, pleasure and happiness. You just can’t enjoy the gift of life anymore.
When taking Methamphetamine, the user feels a rush of pleasure, an instant euphoria of energy and alertness, a heightened sense of confidence or feeling of improved intellect and ability to solve problems, and a higher motivation to accomplish goals – caused by a massive release of the neurotransmitter Dopamine. Even short-term use, however; can include erratic, agitated or violent behavior.
Dopamine is the brain chemical that motivates movement, gives us feelings of joy and happiness, self-confidence, pleasure, love, compassion and a calm temperament. Long-term use of Methamphetamine depletes the brain of Dopamine. Unlike cocaine, which also causes similar actions in the brain, Methamphetamine prevents the reuptake of Dopamine, facilitates its metabolisms, damages and sometimes destroys both dopamine production and dopamine receptors in the brain.
With a brain void of a useful compliment of Dopamine, users are left to live in our world without the benefit of the feelings of happiness, joy, pleasure, love, compassion and a calm nature. And without the gift of a placid disposition, behavior becomes unpredictable, agitated, angry, and prone to hostile, primitive outbursts and violence – and much less keen is the ability to manage money, pay the bills on time, maintain a healthy diet, make it to work, maintain relationships, clean the house, or keep the landlord happy.
More persistent psychological symptoms include delusions, paranoia, hallucinations, depression, anxiety, and social isolation (abandoning family and longtime friends to find solace and acceptance among like minded, like behaving people – other meth users). Meth psychosis includes extreme delusional paranoia, the perceptions of being pestered by bugs, wrapped or caught in fishing line, or choking on food, believing phones and computers are hacked or bugged, or that people are talking disparagingly behind their back. The tragedy for the addicted long-term meth user is also the damage that is done to the body. Manufactured clandestinely with deadly toxic chemicals, chronic toxicity in the organs eventually results in their failure.
What is not written in the volumes of testimonials, research or documentaries about Meth is what it does to the moral and ethical tenants of character. Chronic Meth users lie and they steal - and they don’t know it and can’t remember it either. Nearly everything coming out of the mouth of a chronic meth user is a lie, or a ruse, or a scheme to get more meth. Eventually, more meth is not enough and smoking or snorting leads to needles and injecting – and then injecting directly into the carotid arteries leading to the brain.
Lying and stealing is not as bad as it can get. There has always been a correlation between addiction and crime. Touting “this is not how you were raised” will seem almost comical when what you thought was bad is one-upped time and time again.
Why does any of this matter to you? Meth is here – and we often carelessly invite people we don’t know into our homes and businesses to keep the garden, clean the pool, trim the trees, clean the house, ad on the extra room, work on the car, weld the fence – or we employ workers or contractors at our businesses for the same - and we do so with little regard or a keen enough perception to recognize what danger this represents to us, our family, or our property.
If a meth user is lucky and finds sobriety through intervention – they will have lost their home, their car, their dog, their friends, their family, their children and their trust. And alas, for them, it takes two years of complete sobriety to recover to the extent that the brain can. There is no guarantee that once a user actually recovers, that they will not suffer from depression, anxiety, memory loss, or early onset Parkinson’s symptoms forever. And again, even with the best intentions, the relapse rate is 90 percent.
Meth addiction and the brain damage it causes, the human potential it extinguishes, the families it tears apart is not unlike the consequences of traumatic brain injury or clinical mental illness in its impact on the health and welfare of our society
Part one of Three – Meth: and the walking dead.