The first time I saw the effects of methamphetamine was in the middle school where I taught Language Arts. A parent struggled to sit still in a desk as I went over the state writing benchmarks. Clearly, her twitching showed that something was wrong. It went beyond multiple sclerosis: it was too spastic, and in addition the woman's sunken jaw, there was a wild helplessness in her wide eyes.
That was 1998.
Since then, I have seen this look over and over. In my classroom, at gas stations, on the street.
I've had students who have used the stimulant, abused it, and sold it. They've been in jail. Their parents have been in jail. They've been taken away by the court. They've had their children taken from them.
Meth is easy to get, they tell me. It's easy to make.
It's also easy to get hooked on.
After one use, the overwhelming majority them have become hopelessly addicted.
Meth brings its users' dopamine levels down to near-zero; the brain craves more of the chemical to be brought (artificially) back up.
The high makes the users feel powerful, productive, invincible. Though they'll never get back the intensity of that first high, they'll spend a chunk of their futures chasing it.
Medford is so saturated with the drug, it's called Meth-ford. And I teach right in the heart of it. Given all the evils of meth, it's no wonder I hate it.
What kills me even more than the tweakers (users who've been high for days without sleeping) are my students who can't get off it. Even if they really want to. Even if they've been clean for five years.
Meth's physical effects--sallow skin, lesions, dental problems, weight loss, thinning hair--are nothing compared to the neurological, social, and economic ravaging.
Ellen Hopkins crafted a courageous YA bestseller, Crank, capturing the insidiousness of the monster. Ellen's honesty about her daughter's struggle is shocking but real.
Beautiful Boy, by David Sheff, is meth heartbreak from a father's perspective. Nick, his son, retaliates with his harrowing own version, Tweak.
National Geographic has documented an excellent video "The World's Most Dangerous Drug."
I've tried to educate myself on meth because it's so scary and, unfortunately, increasingly prevalent.
I can't guess how much of my community college population is on meth. But it's a lot.
I'm inspired by the ones who face their monster, who talk about it, who write about it. Female, male, in their teens or fifties, in college for their first or fifteenth time, they all have one thing in common.
They wish they'd never done it.
FALL 2015 TOUR
1 year ago