Understanding Meth Users

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I have a couple ideas I want to share with you about the drug community. One I have in mind is understanding drug dealers.

But today I want to talk about meth.

In Northeast Ohio meth is, BY FAR, the biggest drug in your neighborhood.

When the news reports on meth use they like to show before and after pictures like this:

It is true that meth users sometimes pick at their faces and their arms and hands.

They often times are constantly in motion. So picking at their skin definitely can happen.

But the fact of the matter is: there are meth users that you’d never guess were using meth.

Suburban moms are using meth.

Here’s an article from one of these people: I Don’t Look Like A Meth Addict – Sober Mommies

She opens her article with:

I am the mother of an amazing eight-year-old girl. I am a fabulous dressing, master’s degree holding, funny divorcee.

She goes on to write:

I smoke meth. I get high at home and at work. I get high before I go to the grocery store, the mall, the pool and the beach. I’m high in the Catholic school parking lot.

Here is a graph of why people use meth:

It’s from this article: Sex and Gender Differences in Substance Use | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

Are Super Moms Turning to Meth to Do It All? – ABC News
“Speed [one of the drug’s nicknames] is a drug that people get into for functional utility,” said Dr. Drew Pinsky, a substance abuse expert and an ABCNEWS’ contributor. “Women today have unique circumstances. They’re expected to be all things, all the time, and that’s unrealistic. Not only are they juggling job and kids, but they are supposed to look good, and keep the weight off.”

The History of Crystal Methamphetamine – Drug-Free World
Methamphetamine went into wide use during World War II, when both sides used it to keep troops awake.

Most problems don’t get solved in this world because we maintain an “Us versus Them” mentality.

“I can look down on meth heads, aka “tweakers” because they are ghetto trash.”

Once we separate ourselves from each other then we have absolved all our responsibility of our own community. Judging others just makes life easier.

The only reason I wanted to tell you about “meth mommies” is because I am hoping to help you find compassion for all meth users.

I am surrounded by meth users.

If I had to guess I would say 70% of the people in our village are active meth users. To be clear: we have a zero tolerance of using drugs or alcohol on the property. So, people are going outside, getting meth and then coming back.

But don’t think its just homeless people using meth. 99% of all meth users live in houses. Akron is drowning in meth. It is everywhere.

Here’s the thing: I have developed a special place in my heart for meth users. They remind me of little squirrels. Running this way and that. Scurrying around cleaning, organizing and chatting.

Oh the chatting.

Meth users LOVE to talk.

I’m listening to a guy right now talking to another guy. The talker is probably on meth. He doesn’t stay with us. He just drops by sometimes. The other guy is a guy that I know is totally clean. He has a close relationship with God, which seems to help some overcome the compulsion of drugs and alcohol for some. This guy on meth just talks and talks and talks. It’s REALLY hard to get a word in edgewise with a person on meth.

But I will take a meth user over an alcoholic any day of the week. Meth users are still on this planet. Drinkers are on a whole other planet. There is no amount of rationality in the world to convince a drinker that they are wrong. Drinkers fight. Meth users clean. Drinkers yell and cry. Meth users want to tell you about the most beautiful rock they just found on a walk… for an hour!

The worst part of meth users is the shame.

They are almost all completely embarrassed by the fact they they are a tweaker.

Every other drug addict looks down on a meth user.

They are judged by everybody.

But usually the reason people use meth is to cope.

Truck drivers use meth to stay awake, for example.

But the coping often times goes deeper than that.

I’ve had people tell me that they can’t muster the courage to have a conversation with a stranger unless they are on meth.

I also once asked a high ranking cop what he thought we should do to get people to stop using meth. His advice was to convince them to never use meth to begin with. He said he focuses on 13 year olds.

Meth becomes your backbone. You eventually can’t navigate life without it.

But when you are on it you are superhuman. You can stay up for 72 hours straight. And you aren’t just sitting around watching TV. You are working.

One of the things that the city loves to throw in our face was that in the very early months we once had a meth user decide to build a shed WITH POWER TOOLS at 3am. It happened one night over a year ago and I’m still hearing about it.

We actually had to enact a village rule that you are not allowed to rake leaves after 9pm and not before 8am. Meth users LOVE to rake leaves. All. Night. Long.

I once had a meth user detail my truck. I paid him $40 and he worked on it for 8 hours straight. I’m pretty sure he never took a single break.

It’s really hard to convince a meth user they should stop using meth. It becomes their life. And they are functioning in life.

I want them to quit meth.

I quit drinking 15 years ago and I LOVE being sober. But the fact of the matter is: dealing with your emotions in the short term is way harder sober than when you are drinking. I could drink away all my problems in a half hour if I really needed to escape. Now I usually have to carry that pain with me for hours and sometimes days. 15 years later I’m getting better at relieving my anxiety and stress naturally. But no matter how good I’m at it it will never be as fast and as all erasing as a case of beer.

But being sober is THE BEST.

I didn’t realize how all absorbing drinking was for me.

Since I’ve quit drinking I’ve developed hobbies. And I don’t have to suffer for an entire day hung over and sick.

I will never drink again. It’s a limiting life.

I want to try to share that thinking with my friends that are on meth.

They carry a lot of shame with themselves. And they have a hard time navigating the non-drug world, sometimes.

The fact of the matter is, I don’t have a clear reasoning for a lot of these people why they should quit meth. It has become their entire lives. Quitting meth is pretty much like quitting their lives. All their friends are on meth. And their work habits all revolve around using meth.

But there is a clarity and beauty in sobriety.

My instinct is that they use meth because they hate themselves and they don’t feel adequate. I totally get that feeling.

I just try to be a friend to them. I treat them like a friend. I care about them like a friend. I am their friend.

Compassion and care is an incredibly powerful force. If others accept them for who they are it increases the likelihood that someday they might be able to accept themselves.


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