Washington, January 12, 2012 – In the world of Methamphetamine addiction, murder, mayhem and misery reign supreme. The recent case of the twenty-three year old Fresno woman who went on a murderous rampage while under the effects of the drug highlights the its devastation. The woman videotaped herself using Methamphetamine just hours before she shot and killed her two children and a cousin and critically wounded her husband before turning the gun on herself. The drug responsible for the fastest rising addiction in the United States ended and shattered more lives. Arriving at the scene in Fresno, law enforcement had little doubt as to the cause of the crime. The increasing wave of Methamphetamine use sweeps even the most fragile of lives under the grip of its spell.
As the child of an alcoholic, I understand the trauma of growing up competing with an addiction for the love of a parent. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I understand the desperate circumstances of a child whose welfare is a slave to someone else’s vice. Adult addiction can lead them to neglect or harm their children. Adults are sacrificing their children at the altar of escapism, and their blood is on the hands of society if we don’t fight these addictions with every fiber of our being. We can turn our backs on a problem for so long and then it gains such momentum that we are all swept up in the morass of tragedy and heartache addiction brings.
Methamphetamine has secretly eroded the fragile fibers of humanity for over a hundred years, and we now find ourselves grasping the dragon’s tail unable to stop the thrashing.
The first known appearance of Methamphetamine, or “Meth,” was in 1887. World War Two pilots took the drug to help keep them awake on long flights. The first documented epidemic occurred in post WW2 Japan, after which Meth found its way to the West Coast of the United States. Methamphetamine is the “Demon Drug” that has possessed so many and left a trail of pain and suffering in its wake. Also called “Speed”,“Chalk”,”Ice”,“Tina” or “Glass,” the DEA says Meth is the most expansive drug in terms of abuse and the most covertly produced. Meth is easy to make and has a huge profit margin, encouraging the viral growth of Meth labs in the United States.
In a 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over ten million people in the U.S. twelve or older had abused Meth. Typically snorted,smoked,swallowed or injected, Meth can make users feel invincible. It can increase users sex drive and keep them awake for days at a time.
The “high” comes at a price. The human heart and nervous system run at a pace set by nature and when we artificially manipulate that rhythm we risk serious damage. Heart attack and stroke are just a few of the consequences from the prolonged use of Meth. In 2011, researchers from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto documented increased risk of schizophrenia among Meth users. In the December 2011 issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, researchers found intravenous Meth users had an 80% higher chance of committing suicide than other drug users. Studies by the Department of Health have shown a substantial increase in the frequency of birth defects due to use of the drug by pregnant women, and increasing numbers of children born addicted to Meth.
In 1999, authorities found the body of a four your old boy buried in a shallow grave just outside Fresno, California. The boy’s father was addicted to Meth and was serving parole after spending three years in prison for abusing his older son. The father later admitted he had been awake for eight days, high on Meth. As is often the case with Meth users, the descent from the high resulted in violent behavior. The father beat his four-year-old to death and convinced the mother to cover the crime up by telling everyone the four year old was visiting relatives. After authorities discovered the grave, they convicted the father of second degree murder and sentenced him to a term of forty-four years to life. The mother testified against the father and plead guilty to child endangerment. Another life sacrificed at the altar of addiction, an innocent child in the path of a Meth addict.
The production of Meth is relatively simple, allowing labs to spring up in many homes, basements and houseboats across the country. Creating Meth is often called “cooking” and the process involves a series of dangers the least of which is an explosive reaction that has claimed numerous lives. Burn Units are flooded with victims trying to make Meth with little or no knowledge of the risks involved, their minds clouded by greed or addiction. In December of 2011, a woman was arrested in a Tulsa Wal-Mart for attempting to make Meth inside the store. While she wandered for six hours inside the store, she gathered all the ingredients she needed and began the process of “cooking” on a store shelf. Police arrested her as she mixed two containers of sulfuric acid. The officers suffered minor burns to their hands as they attempted to survey the crime scene.
Children exposed to the process of cooking Meth are at risk from both the ingredients and from inhalation and absorption through the skin. Malnutrition and psychological trauma from physical and sexual abuse are common side effects of the world that Meth creates. Left with little or no escape from their environments, children of Meth users can find themselves devoid of hope in lives which sometimes end prematurely. Parents who are addicts choose the drug over buying milk or diapers, and do not hear the cries of their children in their detached.
In January of this year, a Tennessee Emergency Room admitted a seven year old with respiratory problems. Doctors became suspicious and discovered she had been exposed to Meth. Sheriffs opened and investigation and discovered that the camper where the young girl lived was a functioning lab. The mother admitted she had been snorting Meth as the child slept on a couch and the young girl spoke of the smell of fumes as her mother produced the drug. Authorities prosecuted the mother for drug charges and child endangerment, Social Services retained custody of the child.
The stories of Meth addiction resound with the echoes of regret and of the high they thought would never end. Children struggle to understand the vandalized dreams they were forced to embrace at the hands of Meth. The drug took their parents and wrecked their lives and then moved on to the next unsuspecting victim. As Law Enforcement fights to stem the rise of Meth, those searching for the “ultimate high” are finding new avenues of ruination for their own lives and others. Mixing meth with other drugs like cocaine is called “speed-balling” and puts you on the bullet train to a heart attack.
As the child of an alcoholic mother, I understand the transformation that an addiction can cause in the behavior of someone you love and the impact it can have on a child’s life. Hope finds a desperate partner in the eyes of the youngest victims of an addict’s endeavors and a small mind struggles to make sense of the inconsistency that swirls around a hijacked life. The most selfish endeavor we can undertake is to turn our backs on our children, and Meth overpowers the parental instinct in some with disastrous results. We can only hope to change the future through education and activism. If someone is standing at the edge of the abyss, reach out and change a life if only for our children.