Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Yesterday's blog entry had me musing on the scourge of meth and I was reminded of a friend whose brother was sent to court ordered rehab up near Humboldt County for a DUI. Practically everyone else in that rehab was there for meth, which has become an intractable problem in rural California (make that rural America). Many of his fellow patients were missing fingers, hands and even forearms because they had blown them off being careless in their sloppy bathtub labs. Meth is also hell on your teeth, from either the poor nutritional choices the drug leads you to or just utter neglect, and what few his fellow patients had remaining were black and rotten with decay. I bet 'Family Day' at rehab was something else.

Meth is absolute poison. Few people realize that the Matthew Shepard's killers had been up several days on meth, and that probably had a lot more to do with the utter barbarity of his killing than homophobia or 'gay panic.' Because with meth you're not just dealing with the drugs effects on your brain but also sleep deprivation, so users become delusional and paranoid and violent, especially in the final stages, called tweaking. Supposedly it's impossible for mental health professionals to distinguish someone who's tweaking from someone suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.

Although meth ravages your looks, heroin perversely preserves them, like a youth elixir. My friend who is a social worker says that some of her heroin clients look twenty years younger than their actual age. Well, as long as you don't look at their veins. My cousin Garrett who worked needle exchange said that they would hand out vein charts because addicts who had burned out all of their veins would just plunge the needle into their skin in sheer frustration after searching for hours unsuccessfully for a good vein, which would cause these these horrible abscesses (and a disappointing high). One time someone with a black abscess on his arm about the size of a cupcake asked him,

"Do you mind if I have some of that antibiotic ointment?"

Like a little Neosporin was going to fix that right up.

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