Faces of Meth: Before and After


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I would like to announce something to the forum viewers who view this response. I have known, worked with, and very fortunately, disassociated myself with many people who have been addicted to drugs. None of them methamphetamine, but I have known drug users in my life. One of them is confirmed dead. Most of you probably have known someone. If not, you are fortunate. I have watched some of my best friends succumb to drug and alcohol problems, and others overtake the problems as they age. A lot of it depends on the strength of will of the substance abuser, the biological and psychological addiction level of the drug, the emotional IQ of the substance abuser, and the resources available to the rehabilitation facility and its commitment to its patients. Some drug users will go months without using.

We have lost many talented artists to drug addiction. When will you start taking yours seriously? That means you, and you know who you are.

Let's think about the ones who died. Namely:

Elvis Presley
(singer-songwriter / opiate, sedative, tranquilizer, benzodiazepam, alcohol addiction: depression) Cause of Death: After years of non-stop touring, the King of Rock developed a rock star life. Prior to his death, Elvis' career was still legendary but on the rocks. The King died in his bathroom from heart failure, from what is now believed to be the result of a drug and alcohol overdose. His doctor was banned from practice years later after other Sun Records artists like Jerry Lee Lewis admitted that they were over-prescribed medication and basically intentionally drugged by their handlers.

Michael Jackson (performer / opiate addiction: painkillers and anesthetics) - Cause of Death: In dispute due to a crazy doctor who waited 20+ minutes to call 911 after administering a drug to change toxicology reports. He fled the scene and likely wanted the King of Pop to have some narcotics missing from his blood stream when he reached the ER. Like Elvis, Michael Jackson died of heart failure due to drug overdose. He was moved from the floor, where he passed out, to the bed, by his doctor before he fled the scene. When calling 911, after living with Michael Jackson and being hired by his label, the doctor claimed he did not know what address he lived at. Age 50.

Bradley Nowell (band Sublime / opiate addiction: heroin) - Cause of Death: Accidental OD. Having been rejected by major record labels on more than one occasion, the Sublime singer-songwriter died after attempting a "two year heroin experiment" to raise his creativity. He was found dead with a green film around his mouth right before the band released their first major label album and was about to go on tour in Europe. The album went on to sell millions of records. Age 28.

River Phoenix (film actor / heroin, meth, diazepam, ephedrine, cocaine, morphine and marijuana addiction) - Cause of Death: Accidental OD. River Phoenix reportedly took a cocktail of drugs at a nightclub owned by Johnny Depp. After going into what would be a fatal coma, he was given a diazepam pill in an attempt to revive him by Red Hot Chili Peppers bass player "Flea". Because he was on a massive amount of stimulants and amphetamines at the time, Phoenix began going into convulsions and died shortly thereafter at the age of 23.

Kurt Cobain (band Nirvana / opiate addiction: heroin) - Cause of Death: Suicide. Kurt Cobain was reportedly introduced to heroin addiction by his wife, Courtney Love. Cobain's life has been turned into a literal journal of cataloged depression and low-self esteem. These problems and his song-writing talents helped catapult the band to legendary status in 1992, paving the way for a new generation of rock musicians. Cobain expressed frustration over his depictions in the media and how his daughter would perceive him in the future as a "junkie". After being convinced by his wife, band, and record label reps to enter Exodus Rehab Center, Mr. Cobain jumped the wall of the complex in early April of 1994. He was found dead from an injection of 10x the lethal dose of heroin and a shotgun blast to the head. Age 27.

Heath Ledger (actor / cocaine, opiate, sedative, marijuana addiction) - Cause of Death: Accidental OD. During the filming of a new Batman movie, Ledger was found dead in his New York City home. At a SAG awards party, he was seen snorting what appears to be cocaine off a table and admitted to smoking 15 joints a day. This, combined with his prescription painkillers and anti-anxiety medications, led to his death. Age 28.

John Belushi (actor, possibly every drug in existance) - Cause of Death: Accidental OD. John Belushi lived life on the wild side, held exuberant parties, and lived a dysfunctional life that has often been portrayed as "living life to the fullest". He was found dead by his physical fitness trainer who was trying to help him lose weight. Other famous actors such as Catherine Williams, Robert DeNiro, and Robin Williams were all present right before his death. Catherine Williams is said to have injected him with a lethal dose of heroin and cocaine (speedball). Of course, the other actors claim they weren't there to see it, but somehow know exactly how what took place. Living life to the fullest. Dead at age 33.

Chris Farley (actor, cocaine and heroin addiction) - Cause of Death: OD. Chris Farley was a fat comedian who had low self-esteem issues. Although he was revered for his performances on Saturday Night Live (SNL), Farley hired prostitutes all the time and smoked crack and snorted cocaine. He died in a room with a prostitute after going on a drug binge. She took a picture of him after he died and waited for his brother to find him the next day.

How many others do we have? Those are just a few on the A list of dead drug addict celebrities here in America. Bet you can name a lot more. We sure do. Layne Staley... Anna Nicole Smith... the guy in town you may have never known... Not everyone dies from drug addiction. And not everyone is a celebrity. There are fates worse than death. It is estimated there are more "functional" drug addicts than ones on death's door. This means a life of lying, stealing, and cheating. Under the influence of powerful drugs, its easy to forget what you did the night before.

For those who don't know anything about methamphetamine, here is a good primer. The documentary "Crank: Made in America" is essential to understand the seriousness of this addiction and problem. While tons of ridiculous documentaries are available on Netflix and other movie rental services, I am amazed to see this is out of print on most sites, and on the sites that do have it, it is sold for $150-$200 dollars. Instead, we have documentaries about what happens if you eat McDonalds three times a day for a year nearly free of charge. Much like we spend our time creating a society of punishment and assumed guilt, busy writing each other automated computerized traffic violations in most major cities, it occurs to me that this is what our civilization is busy doing: Punishing each other all day. For green paper. I hope someone will read this and maybe, just maybe, it will help them.

Here is a paper on meth I wrote:

Methamphetamine Use Shows Results of Failed Policies
Michael Fara
Professor Richard Richardson

The issue of methamphetamine abuse is a serious one. In the HBO documentary Crank: Made in America, the use of methamphetamine among suburban Iowans is examined on an interpersonal level. The documentary goes far in answering some obvious questions: How is methamphetamine used? Where does the drug come from? How addicting is the drug? In this paper, I will discuss the challenge posed by methamphetamine distribution and addiction in a legal and social context, and discuss what impact the current state of the U.S. War on Drugs may be having on the level of methamphetamine accessibility and use.

To truly understand the powerful potency of this drug, we should first uncover its origins. Methamphetamine has the chemical name (2S)-N-methyl-1-phenyl-propan-2-amine. It’s street name is “crank” or “meth”. The drug functions as an extremely potent central nervous system stimulant. It was first synthesized from ephedrine, a powerful stimulant, by Japanese chemist Nagayoshi Nagai in 1894. In 1919, Akira Ogata synthesized it in crystalline form for the first time. The origins of the drug are interesting in the fact that it was first primarily used during World War II by Japanese and German soldiers as a patent drug called Pervitin. In World War II Germany, chocolates filled with methamphetamine were given to pilots and tank crews, and it has been speculated that Adolf Hitler was given intravenous injections of methamphetamine, possibly to help treat Parkinson’s disease and other ailments, until his death in the 1940s. Prior to this methamphetamine was used as a nasal decongestant in the 1930’s.

Following World War II, large stockpiles of methamphetamine became available on the street in Japan, and the drug became associated with the Japanese underworld, even though its use had been strongly discouraged by strong social taboos in Japanese culture. Subsequently, methamphetamine use spread to the United States in the form of legal prescriptions in the 1950’s. Among the reasons for prescribing the drug was Parkinson’s disease, narcolepsy, alcoholism, depression, and obesity. Throughout the 1950s and leading up to a peak in the 1980’s, recreational methamphetamine use increased throughout the United States. In 1983 the United States passed several laws to ban the use of methamphetamine. Although these laws did not outlaw possession of the drug, they made it more difficult to obtain the precursors required to synthesize the drug. In 1986, the U.S. passed the Federal Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act in an attempt to prohibit the use and sale of drugs that circumvented existing drug laws, i.e. “designer drugs”. It was not until 2005, however, that the U.S. government passed the U.S. Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act within the U.S. PATRIOT Act, to limit the amount of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine which can be bought at a single time. It can be argued that this was an attempt by the U.S. government to once again disrupt the supply of an illegal drug. In this instance, the goal was to cut off the ability of methamphetamine traffickers to synthesize the drug by using large quantities of freely available ephedrine from over the counter medications and tablets. Doing so would also limit the possibility of addicts and small time dealers from setting up meth labs.

As a powerful central nervous system stimulant, methamphetamine provokes increased heart rate and strong physical response to intake. Among the symptoms of use are a release of dopamine and serotonin into the brain, which creates a strong and intense feeling of euphoria. As blood pressure increases, veins and arteries constrict and blood vessels dilate, creating a strong high for a methamphetamine addict. It has been revealed through extensive testing, that methamphetamine use carries extreme risks, including neurotoxicity and the breakdown of neurotransmitters in the brain. The breakdown of dopamine in the brain can result in chemical changes and a release of hydrogen peroxide that poses significant risks to users of the drug. It is established that hydrogen peroxide can actually dissolve cells. Free floating dopamine inside a cell will destroy a cell. Because human experimentation is prohibited under law, it is not clear at exactly what dosages these dangers present themselves. The drug can be administered through all common routes of administration, including: insufflation, or snorting, smoking, and injection. Further complications can result as long bouts of insomnia, tweaking that can last for days, and the dangers that come with prolonged drug use.

One of the main problems identified in the documentary Crank: Made in America is the accessibility of the drug in rural areas of the country. Unlike other drugs, methamphetamine is relatively easy to produce in ones’ own home, if one has all of the necessary precursors to synthesize the drug. In fact, the accessibility of this drug in rural areas has increased at an alarming rate. This is not surprising since all you need to synthesize methamphetamine is hydrous ammonia, pseudoephedrine, and an ether solvent. Furthermore, the illegal trafficking of the drug from Mexico has also increased. According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, an organization overseen by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, "Methamphetamine smuggling from Mexico into the United States via Arizona appears to have increased sharply since 2001. More methamphetamine was seized at or between ports of entry (POEs) in Arizona in 2003 than at or between POEs in California or Texas." One of the primary contributors to this mass-influx, according to the NDIC, is an increase in demand for what is called ice methamphetamine: a highly potent form of the drug that is recrystalized from the powder form. Even though powder methamphetamine is the most common form of the drug, there was a strong increase for ice methamphetamine from 2000 to 2003.

Is the use of methamphetamine a rising epidemic and what does this mean for the individuals documented in Crank: Made in America? According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the level of use in 2003 for people over age 12 was lower than that of marijuana, cocaine, and MDMA ectasy, but at 0.6%, was higher than heroin use. However, the statistics mentioned previously seem to indicate that the use of the drug is increasing despite, or perhaps because of, anti-drug enforcement efforts. When looking at this issue, we should examine the lives of the people involved in this film, and look at why they persist in doing this drug. One of the striking observations that can be made about these individuals is that they are aware of the consequences of the use of the drug and the risk involved in both overdose and continued use. At one point in the film, a couple who continue to use the drug end up breaking down in tears after injecting copious amounts of the methamphetamines intravenously into their veins. They are aware they cannot quit, and warn that “First you will snort it, then you’ll smoke it, then you’ll go straight to the needle. Then you’ll never stop.” This inherent dichotomy points to severe addiction and this warning should not be ignored. It can be said with a great deal of certainty that the addictive properties of methamphetamine cannot be understated by any stretch of the imagination. Even as one man in the documentary attempts to pass off his perhaps years long addiction as a habit that he does occasionally among social circles, it can be argued that this is way of rationalizing his drug use. The extraordinary risk inherent with methamphetamine does not deter these addicts, including the tremendous damage this drug can do to physical appearance over a prolonged period of time.

One of the interesting and most pointed arguments against the legalization of methamphetamine can be seen in the pattern of abuse that has resulted in broken homes for many of these families. A man named Justin who lives with his mother in a rural suburban house that has slowly turned into a messed up garbage-filled drug den stated in the documentary that methamphetamine was “The only thing we have in common.” In another instance, Terry, who lives with her 84 year old mother and has a drug dealer living in her basement states that she “has her own connections” and won’t get high with the family around. The 84 year old mother states that “I won’t be here, so I don’t care.” The “jonesing” and need for more drugs has compelled some of the addicts in the film to shoplift and pawn stolen goods, while blaming the entire thing on losing the family car. To ease their addiction, some members of these groups travel into remote industrial sites to ciphen off hydrous ammonia, one of the key ingredients and a methamphetamine precursor. It can be argued that some of the homes in the film have acted in the past as functional meth labs, or at the very least, places of commerce for drugs and valuables to be exchanged. Many of the people in this film are admittedly near the end-stages of addiction and have misinterpreted reality after suffering from bouts of severe insomnia. In one case, a man claimed to hold his family hostage with an axe. It was stated in the film that the chemical patterns in the brain begin to resemble paranoid schizophrenia. In another case, thirty-six hours after the birth of his new baby, Dustin smokes methamphetamine “one last time”.

Is this the worst case scenario, or is this life as usual for the meth addict? One can argue that rural families living in poor to middle income homes may be at more risk for methamphetamine addiction. In support of this argument, it is possible that many of these areas lack essential support services and, in some cases, accessibility to adequate healthcare and education for someone to expand their mind and move away from drug addiction. One could argue that the inherent isolation and poverty that can come from living in the rural suburban areas may put these people at higher risk for trying methamphetamine for the first time. It may also be more convenient to buy and sell methamphetamine in rural areas of the country since there is usually inadequate security, environmental isolation, and the ability to vent the toxic chemicals undetected. But there are many complex economic factors at work which may not make the rural environment the primary reason for the growth of this drug.

To understand more about methamphetamine’s impact on society in general and how the U.S. War on Drugs has played into the hands of the criminal drug trade, we should look at the effects of the drug war over a long period of time. The trade in drugs is driven primarily by the economic principle of supply and demand. Formally, the war on drugs is listed as a $13 billion dollar expense in the U.S. federal budget. But starting with Richard Nixon, the modern war on drugs has expanded from a $450 million dollar a year enterprise to a new estimated cost of $300 billion dollars annually to U.S. taxpayers. While importation of drugs is on the rise, less than 10% of all commercial cargo is inspected. Over 350,000 newborn infants are testing positive with illicit substances in their bodies. Yet despite different government administrations trying to attack the drug supply, the rationale for prosecuting remains the same. As stated by Professor Richard Richardson, the rationale for prosecuting drug possession, sale, and trafficking is prevention and incapacitation, as well as punishment and retribution. But if the overall goal of our criminal justice system is to provide justice to a victim, the incarceration of a non-violent offender who only harms themselves or a potential buyer by the illicit possession or sale is an injustice in and of itself. Imagine for one moment if the U.S. government took some of that $300 billion War on Drugs expenditure and spent it on preventative treatment and healthcare for drug offenders. An emphasis not on legalization, but on decriminalization, has the potential to yield greater results than the current method of prosecution and incarceration which has failed for over thirty-six years.

In fact, it was mentioned by Professor Richard Richardson that the cost of incarceration can cost upwards of $45,000 dollars annually for one inmate. Meanwhile, most non-violent drug offenders, upon serving out their sentence, and likely having received limited or no treatment while incarcerated, go back to doing drugs again and again. Surely a drug like methamphetamine is a calamity and horror for the entire world, but how much can the rest of society be expected to pay for the drug war? It has already been established by Professor Richard Richardson that the majority of violent crime related to drugs comes from systemic violence, or turf wars, and economically compulsive habits of the addict. Through decriminalization, much of the violence and hundreds of billions of dollars spent on the drug war could be eliminated. In a world where over 80% of drug offenders in prisons have already had prior convictions and only 20% have received adequate drug treatment, it would be unscientific and foolish to continue down the same path. Simply stated, the United States government does not have enough resources to continue the failed war on drugs much longer.

It was established by Professor Richard Richardson that in the U.S. alone, the market for illicit drugs is a $500 billion dollar industry. Drugs go to financing illegal activity all over the world, including prostitution, illegal gambling, terrorism, gunrunning, and armed insurrections. The U.S. tried all throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s to eliminate the supply of drugs coming from around the world. But the level of supply of illegal drugs never once changed. The only way to end the war on drugs is to eliminate the demand, and it is only through education and strong investments into our healthcare system that we can help drug addicts and reduce the profit margins. Effectively, it makes more sense on economic grounds to help addicts recover since they can then resume functional living in society, thereby leading more productive lives and generating more output which enhances the economy instead of damaging it. Meanwhile, the estimated $300 billion dollars spent on the drug war could be used on healthcare and educational services, and in some cases, be given back to American citizens in the form of budget reductions and tax cuts. With the expense of prosecution and incarceration being enormous from both a legal and social standpoint, it only makes sense to try something new: One thing for certain is that the current pattern has not worked.

In closing, Crank: Made in America, exposes to the world the harsh realities of drug addiction, but gives no clearly defined answers on how to solve this problem. In a way, the film is a look into this world from an outside perspective. Here we see illegal drugs for what they really are, a devastating disease that has crippled entire families. The people in this film are not completely alien to us, they could be anyone we know. It will only be through education and reform that the war on drugs can end and real change can become possible.

Crank [video documentary].Made in America. Eames Yates. HBO Films. 2004.

Drugs, Society, and Human Behavior, 12th Ed. MDMA (Ectasy). Ksir. Hart.Ray. McGraw Hill. 2008.

Methamphetamine drug threat assessment [electronic resource]. U.S. Dept. of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center, [2005].

The application of justice in the "War on Drugs" is non-existant in the United States. Our prisons are overloaded with non-violent drug offenders. We live in a punishment society that embraces fear instead of rejecting it or finding the cause of it. We must ween ourselves off the addiction to a nanny-state hell-bent on privatizing American prisons and incarcerating people who need serious rehabilitation. As more prisons are privatized, that means more revenue for corporations operating in the state and for the state itself. This is also called forced labor. When performed in a prison environment where human beings lived, this is considered a forced labor camp. Many states in the US have adopted forced labor camps as a solution to over-crowded prisons. When the corporations take over the prisons, it becomes easier for the state to make the laws even more based on punishment - and even more based on incarceration. The War on Drugs is all about money.

See also:

Operation Fast and Furious
CIA and Contras cocaine trafficking in the US
CIA drug trafficking
Air America

Take responsibility for yourself and get some real help. Get off the drugs you're on. Do it to improve your own life. Do it so you won't destroy the lives of the people you love. You won't destroy their lives by trying. Envision a life that is full of passion, smiles, and laughter. It is possible, and if you want to live a fulfilling life, necessary to do so without getting high. To live an unfulfilled life is to live no life at all.

I am not a drug counselor or a certified mental health professional. If you need help find these numbers in your area:

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Check out this list of numbers. You have someone to talk to and you're not alone: Toll Free Phone Numbers - SoberRecovery : Alcoholism Drug Addiction Help and Information



Essential Member
We have lost many talented artists to drug addiction. When will you start taking yours seriously? That means you, and you know who you are.
You struck a deep nerve Mike, this is me. I am addicted to oxycodone and Vicodin. The physical and psychological addition is so bad, I make excuses on why I can't quit
I heard on the radio about drug and alcohol abuse counseling. Did I call? No. I looked at the back of my insurance card and saw a Substance Abuse toll-free number. Did I call, No.

I have tried tapering off to reduce the withdrawl effects. I remember 5 years ago when I was forced to detox cold turkey from Oxycontin. It was the worst five days of my life. I did go to a detox treatment center and was denied treatment by my insurance company.

Thanks to your post, I'm going to do my best in tapering off and quitting my habit.

If you have satellite TV, there is an excellent documentary called The Oxycontin Express on Current TV playing on July 19th.

I hope others will have the courage to speak out about their addiction, but I find it highly unlikely

Thanks again Mike and I hope to give you good news in the future.


Essential Member
This song relates to my fate, especially the lryric "You're running out of places to hide"


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This is Dustin That was in the movie. If anyone still reads this or the author keeps tabs on their article. Here is an update on me. As of march 16 2004 i have been clean off of meth and any other drugs. Karina and i never got married/ Married now and have 2 other beautiful boys. My son that was born on this is now 9 and doing great. Just wanted to give a brief update on where i am today.

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