Meth stories?
July 31, 2007 5:47 AM   Subscribe

Realistic accounts of meth use?

I'm interested in reading (or watching) some realistic accounts of the use and effects of meth.

Not glorifying, drugs-are-awesome-dude! crap, or sensationalizing OMG-meth-is-the-devil-incarnate! crap, but real (or at least realistic) accounts of the use and effects of methamphetamine, either on an ongoing basis or an occasional recreational basis.

Books (fiction or non-), movies (fiction or non-), web sites, magazine articles, and so on (even personal stories, I suppose, although this probably isn't the right place for that) would all aid me in my research.
posted by dersins to Society & Culture (51 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
NPR did a piece just the other day, interviewing an author who did a lot of meth. He was very candid about the experience of being on the drug.

You can listen here:

posted by nkknkk at 5:55 AM on July 31, 2007

Faces Of Meth
posted by amyms at 5:56 AM on July 31, 2007

Just watched and can recommend Frontline: The Meth Epidemic. Love Frontline. Love it.
posted by fatllama at 5:58 AM on July 31, 2007 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: For what it's worth, while I very much appreciate the answer, "Faces of Meth" is exactly NOT the kind of thing I'm interested in. I would file it squarely in the aforementioned "OMG-meth-is-the-devil-incarnate!" category; it may be an accurate photographic depiction, but it's basically propaganda.

I'm not interested in propaganda from EITHER side of the "war on drugs" (So probably no Erowid or Better Living Through Chemistry, either).
posted by dersins at 6:06 AM on July 31, 2007

Speed demon
posted by sveskemus at 6:07 AM on July 31, 2007

Wasn't Jared Letos mom on meth in Requiem for a dream or was it just regular speed?

It's a really good movie anyway.
posted by uandt at 6:11 AM on July 31, 2007

There's Beautiful Boy by David Sheff, a book that by a father chronicalling his son's meth addiction. It's not out yet, but it's based on
this NYT mag article.

The son, Nic Sheff, has his own book coming out too next year, called Tweak.
posted by footnote at 6:24 AM on July 31, 2007

The Sun magazine had a great first-person story about meth use in this issue. pdf of it here.
posted by atchafalaya at 6:28 AM on July 31, 2007

God, sorry, it's just an excerpt.
posted by atchafalaya at 6:30 AM on July 31, 2007

'm not interested in propaganda from EITHER side of the "war on drugs"

Drugs are a very politicized field. You can't really be sure of getting the 'neutral' picture, or that anyone maintains one characterized as such. I'm not sure why you assume that Erowid is automatically pro-drugs propaganda. Their Experience Vault has categories for 'Addiction & Habituation', 'Train Wrecks & Trip Disasters', 'Health Problems', alongside 'Glowing Experiences'...etc.

Just don't mistake lack of an identifiable indicator of bias as lack of bias.
posted by daksya at 6:35 AM on July 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Intervention on A&E has great interviews with both the addicts and the families about their exeperiences. Many episodes are about Meth addicts.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:36 AM on July 31, 2007

Mr Veiny's Crystal Meth Tips
posted by roofus at 6:37 AM on July 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

In my years of being a criminal defense attorney, I have personally seen the changes that are represented in Faces of Meth. Those are not extreme. Those are routine.

I have had two different cases where the details in the police report involved two different women having sex with dogs to get the drug. An officer on one of the cases told me that he has seen that a number of times.
posted by flarbuse at 6:49 AM on July 31, 2007

While Faces of Meth may look extreme to you, so that you deem it propaganda, what's so scary is that it's not extreme. That's what meth addiction looks like. Maybe what you are looking for is an account of what it's like to be a functional addict8212the meth equivalent of the banker on coke or the doctor on oxycontin.
posted by chelseagirl at 6:54 AM on July 31, 2007

I don't doubt that meth ruins people's appearances, health, and lives, but the Faces of Meth site looks sketchy. Where did they get the "before" pictures, and why do all the photos show similar lighting, clarity, etc.? And they are all against the same type of background. Plus, in the "after" photos, everyone's hair looks like it was styled to be messy, and the wounds on the faces look like makeup. I call bs.
posted by annabkr at 7:01 AM on July 31, 2007

Erowid Experience Vault?
posted by unixrat at 7:02 AM on July 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

A few years back HBO aired a documentary about meth users called "Crank." Here's the web site. I found it pretty compelling, but I can't find anywhere to buy it. HBO might replay it now and then.
posted by bdk3clash at 7:04 AM on July 31, 2007

I dunno, I used to think that the OMG-meth-is-the-devil-incarnate stuff was exaggeration until I happened to spend some time hanging with some tweakers a few years ago. I saw lots of Spun-like stuff. I've never tried meth myself, but Spun struck me as being a pretty accurate depiction of some of the ways I saw tweakers act.
posted by lastobelus at 7:05 AM on July 31, 2007

Walk through a meth neighborhood in a not-too-shitty city (Eugene, OR used to have some pretty intense ones, although I hear they've been somewhat cleaned up now). Look at the people around you. That should tell you just about everything you need to know.
posted by devilsbrigade at 7:06 AM on July 31, 2007

Don't the Faces of Meth all have similar lighting and background because they're mug shots?
posted by JonB at 7:07 AM on July 31, 2007


No, those are real. Trust me. And if they were video, you would see the twitching/swaying that goes along with the face ulcers.

It's unmistakable. You can't hide a full-time addiction to tweak, like you can with heroin or coke.
posted by lastobelus at 7:07 AM on July 31, 2007

Spun is a film about meth users in a similar style to Requiem for a Dream.
posted by JonB at 7:08 AM on July 31, 2007

I'm pretty sure looking at the photos on the Faces of Meth site (and then reading that all the images came from the Multnoma County Sherrifs Dept) that all the photos are mug shots. Hence the the similar lighting, clarity etc.
posted by ob at 7:11 AM on July 31, 2007

annabkr--they're all mugshots, compiled by a cop in Oregon. Mugshots do tend to be taken against similar backgrounds with similar lighting and cameras.
posted by chelseagirl at 7:11 AM on July 31, 2007

And I should have previewed. Doh!
posted by ob at 7:12 AM on July 31, 2007

The underrated crime thriller The Salton Sea is set in a gritty, fairly realistic meth underground (more realistic than in Spun, e.g.). It's also a killer movie in general, with a great shifting story and fantastic performances.
posted by mediareport at 7:13 AM on July 31, 2007 [2 favorites]

Since moving to Atlanta I've been able to see what meth does to a person first hand. There is a definite "look". There is a particular section of one of the main streets here that many meth addicted men and women hang out on. I've seen those Faces of Meth photos and they are spot on.
posted by Constant Reader at 7:13 AM on July 31, 2007

Well, just because "faces of meth" are true for some addicts doesn't mean it's true for all meth users. Taking the worst case scenario and presenting it as the inevitable result of *any* meth use is really quite propaganda-like.
posted by footnote at 7:30 AM on July 31, 2007

Wasn't Jared Letos mom on meth in Requiem for a dream or was it just regular speed?

Speed is a slang term for methamphetamine. Same thing. Glass, ice, and tina are also slang terms.
posted by infinityjinx at 7:36 AM on July 31, 2007

Speed is a slang term for any amphetamine, although I'd bet it's most often meth these days.
posted by mikeh at 8:02 AM on July 31, 2007

seconding Salton Sea. Having had my own experiences with that stuff, the meth snorting scenes were almost too much to watch.
posted by poissonrouge at 8:04 AM on July 31, 2007

Also, the youtube link ND[cent] posted is a joke.
posted by infinityjinx at 8:33 AM on July 31, 2007

I know that when metahamphetamine addicts start getting tangled up with the law, they're often in a pretty desperate place, and that's reflected in the horror stories and the awful photos, but I can't help but wonder how many people use the drug and don't end up in the police blotter.

I know someone who was a tweaker for number of years, involved in some criminal activity, and saw a lot of bad things happen to close friends (including one who died, one who lost a leg in a race with a train, and one who has now been homeless for a lot of years).

It scared him, and he decided to stop.

He's now gainfully employed and working his way toward a civil engineering degree. He has a group of other friends who also decided to get away from the meth lifestyle, including a snowboarding bum who works spends every winter working on the mountain and every summer in minimum wage jobs to fund his love of the new thrill in his life, and a pretty, outgoing waitress who has found religion.

I guess the ex-meth users I've met have all found new things to pursue and be passionate about in their post-drug lives: pursuit of money and career, the physical rush, the love of God. But they are not scarred and ugly, they don't have ruined lives. They still have teeth in their mouths.

My friend, the only one of the bunch I know well enough to know this about, believes that his short term memory and attention span have been permanently damaged by meth use. Although he still has his teeth, he does have a lot of dental problems (probably linked to the fact that he made his first EVER visit to a dentist when he was 27). And he does seem to have a weak immune system and get sick a lot, I have no idea if this is related to his drug use.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 8:45 AM on July 31, 2007

Terry Gross just interviewed Frank Owen who has written No Speed Limit: The Highs and Lows of Meth. It was quite interesting...
posted by stratastar at 8:48 AM on July 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Devil's Playground, the documentary about Amish teenagers testing the "English World" follows a teen that has a meth habit.
posted by saucysault at 9:18 AM on July 31, 2007

Isn't there a David Sedaris story about when he was a meth user or a roommate with one? Something about building a nest of hair in the middle of the living room? I think it's in Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, but I don't have my copy with me here.
posted by MsMolly at 9:33 AM on July 31, 2007

"Taking the worst case scenario and presenting it as the inevitable result of *any* meth use is really quite propaganda-like."

For starters, the pictures on Faces Of Meth are not "worst case" scenarios.

Second, from the site: "Click on one of the faces below to see the physical toll meth has had on these users." (emphasis mine)

So it's not "taking the worst case scenario" and it's not presenting the scenario it does take as the "inevitable result of *any* meth use".
posted by toomuchpete at 9:34 AM on July 31, 2007

The David Sedaris story about meth is in Me Talk Pretty One Day, and is pretty entertaining. It describes positive and negative aspects of the methamphetamine experience, without being all "yay drugs" or "ZOMG drugs are bad."
posted by solipsophistocracy at 9:55 AM on July 31, 2007

William S. Burroughs, Jr. was a meth addict who wrote two autobiographical novels, Speed and Kentucky Ham. There's also a biography, Cursed from Birth: The Short, Unhappy Life of William S. Burroughs, Jr.
posted by timeistight at 10:10 AM on July 31, 2007

I work in a lab running a study on dextroamphetamine as a treatment drug for meth addiction, so I encounter meth users every day. From what I've seen, meth addicts can run the gamut from the horror stories to fairly high-functioning. Granted, our subjects are a self-selected group, and from there we filter out most of the severely messed up people, so the ones we really get to know tend to be more together than your average meth addict probably is. But there definitely are people who manage to hold their lives together and can fake it pretty well.

One subject in particular has been injecting meth daily for over a decade, to the point where the subject's arm veins were so scarred that none of our phlebotomists, nurses, or even MDs could draw blood from them (they ended up having to use the femoral artery). But unbelievably, nobody in this person's life (aside from their therapist) knew that this person was a meth user. Not family, not friends, nobody. And this person managed to run a very successful business, dress well (never in short sleeves, of course), and come across as totally intelligent, well-spoken, and together. I don't know how common this is, but I can attest that it can happen.

Also interesting to me is that the patterns of use vary fairly widely. Some people use daily in high amounts, and others only use on the weekends, or even every other week, but still meet the criteria for dependence.

Finally, from what I've seen (and again, take all this for what it is), meth is astonishingly addictive. I know that sounds obvious, but it's still pretty stunning to encounter people who have spend years addicted to every drug under the sun - alcohol, crack, pcp, heroin, anything - and now all they use is speed, because it makes everything else pale in comparison.

Feel free to e-mail me if you'd like to know more, although obviously I can't go into too much detail without breaking confidentiality.
posted by granted at 10:53 AM on July 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

I picked up Meth: America's Home-Cooked Menace in the course of a weird reading jag. It's not as even-handed as you'd like; it was a while ago I read it, but I don't remember any "And I tried it...and stopped." Still, it's certainly not unreadable propaganda.
posted by kmennie at 10:55 AM on July 31, 2007

Tweaker has stories by gay/bi men using speed. Also Resist Meth. Stories are submitted by individuals, and are all about the queer/gay/MSM experience with meth.
posted by gingerbeer at 11:03 AM on July 31, 2007

72-Hour Party People is about this group of well-off, educated Denverites who binge on meth for several days straight. It's a good read.
posted by smably at 11:04 AM on July 31, 2007

Also, the DanceSafe message boards may have something for you. Certainly a place to post a request for more information. My apologies if this is obvious, but sites with a clear harm reduction philosophy are most likely to get to that middle ground between "yay drugs!" and "drugs are evil!"
posted by gingerbeer at 11:18 AM on July 31, 2007

The radio show nkknkk and stratastar mentioned was promoting the new book No Speed Limit: The Highs and Lows of Meth.

And if anybody wants to tell me how "Spun" turned out, let's talk -- I got bored, and left.

posted by Rash at 1:13 PM on July 31, 2007

read The Exile: Sex, Drugs, and Libel in the New Russia

gave me a new perspective on the 'hippie ladder' of which drugs are 'good' and which drugs are 'bad'
posted by jcruelty at 8:29 PM on July 31, 2007

Get the movie Cracked Not Broken -- If I recall correctly, she was addicted to both crack and meth, sorry if that's too much of a confounding factor for you!
posted by mjao at 8:32 PM on July 31, 2007

I really like the Sedaris story as a piece of journalism, although his fidelity as a reporter has been much questioned. However, to me the Sedaris story is less about the ravages of meth and more about the ravages of going to school to be an artist.
posted by blueshammer at 10:02 AM on August 1, 2007

I just reread it, and you're totally right. I guess 'features meth' would have been a fairer description.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 1:15 PM on August 1, 2007

David Sedaris reads the meth/art school story in one of the acts on This American Life this week. It's the episode called "Blame it on Art."
posted by sugarfish at 10:23 AM on August 4, 2007

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