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Drugs. Everyone’s had some, be it paracetamol or cocaine. And what are they? Painkillers. They make everyone feel a little better. Imagine being a chemist in your 20s, not long a graduate. You want to feel good, your friends want it too. People love to experiment and you’ve got the know-how to have your mates licking your boots. You’re also well aware of the dangers that accompany class A drugs. You’ve tried many during your time as a student and you feel untouchable. That’s what I can only imagine went through the head of the anonymous Reddit poster, who we’ll call Walter.
Walter opened his Pandora’s box, a jar of crystal Methamphetamine and unleashed serious tragedy upon his own life. Because this was posted on Reddit, it is possible that his account is a falsity. But if it isn’t true, it’s certainly well researched enough to be accurate and may I say, one hell of a story:
I am a chemist. I have synthesized, extracted and tried many drugs. My occupation gives me the perfect cover to pursue my long-time interest in drugs, and my knowledge of their dosages, effects, and dangers is thorough and well informed. The few times in my life when I have bought or bartered for a drug, I have analyzed it to ensure its identity and purity, and if it wasn’t 100% pure, I cleaned it up myself until it sparkled.
I don’t mention this because I want to show off, but rather to convey that I am not a careless person, and that I have always taken precautions to assure my safety. This is the story of a simple drug that has caused me to systematically dismantle my rationality and question my humanity.
As a teenager I had been prescribed Dexedrine (amphetamine) for attention deficit disorder, and experimented with crushing and snorting the tablets. It was amusing for a while, but eventually left me feeling irritable and dull. I assumed that methamphetamine would be similar to amphetamine, and so I never got the urge to try it.
Flash forward to my mid-20’s. As a graduate student, in organic chemistry, I had the opportunity to make all of the drugs that I wanted. I extracted pure cocaine from coca leaves and made the nicest crack I’ve ever seen. Lots of fun, leaves me feeling down for a day. I would smoke it and think occasionally about doing some more a couple of days afterwards, but never got the urge to binge non-stop. Opiates were very anti-addictive for me. I would take them and the thought wouldn’t cross my mind to do any more.
Every once in a while, when the chemistry that I am *supposed* to be doing isn’t going well, I cheer myself up with an easy ‘extracurricular’ project. A friend had given me a big bottle of pure pseudoephedrine, hoping that some day I would get around to converting it to methamphetamine and give him part of the product. I am kind of a drug elitist, and methamphetamine never really piqued my interest.
One lazy weekend I made about 25 g of pristine methamphetamine HCl, gave half to my friend (who had been waiting patiently the whole time), and put my half into a jar and forgot about it for almost a year.
My wife and I had been married for almost five years, and as far as I can remember we were happy. We planned on starting a family and living the typical domestic dream as soon as I finished my degree and got a job. Things were looking up, and I was close to finishing and moving into an exciting new phase of our life together.
Then for some unknown reason, I decided to pull that jar off of the shelf. Maybe just to look at the pretty pearlescent crystals, but as soon as I saw it, I felt strangely drawn to it. I weighed 20mg out and ground it into a fine powder, and casually blew a line of it, revelling in the ‘ghettoness’ of doing meth. A friend of mine had plunged deeply into meth addiction — hallucinations, paranoia, bugs under his skin and all, but I was a responsible person! I had tempted fate with all kinds of other drugs that were supposedly highly addictive and dangerous, and emerged without a scratch.
As the wave of energy coursed through me for the first time, I felt awakened and alive. I jogged around the block, euphoric and motivated. Work seemed to happen effortlessly, which for me was a great sensation. This stuff seemed to be much more effective than Dexedrine at keeping my focus, and it made me happy and sharp rather than irritable and dull like Dexedrine or Ritalin always did.
And then a couple of hours later a strange new feeling came over me. The jar of crystals seemed to be beckoning me, urging me to take some more. I was still high from the first hit, but I felt compelled to do some more. So I did. I blew another line, ignoring the nasty alkaloid drip in the back of my throat. I still remember thinking that such behavior was uncharacteristic for me. When trying something new, I liked to give it a solid mid-range dose, and then ride it out completely before trying it again. But something was different this time, and not 5 minutes after blowing my second line, I did a third. My heart raced and my eyes widened, but I was still feeling invincible and invigorated. That night, I didn’t get to sleep until 5am, and only then after taking a couple Ambien to knock myself out for a couple of hours.
The next morning, I still felt amped, and the only thing I could think of was getting back to my little miracle jar. I generally prefer to snort drugs rather than smoke them, but I knew that smoking meth was much more effective than insufflation, and so my second day as a fearless tweaker I weighed 15mg into a test tube and vaporized it over a bunsen burner. I drew the smoke deeply into my lungs and held it there for about ten seconds. The flavor wasn’t nearly as nasty as I imagined it would be, and the vapor was pleasantly cool. As I exhaled the pretty white smoke, a pulse of electricity passed through me. This time, the energy was focused and I could feel the gush of dopamine and serotonin switching on every neuron in a way that even crack hadn’t before.
I told my friends nonchalantly about my newfound hobby, and they gave me funny looks, but didn’t express any concern as I had always demonstrated good judgment before. At the end of my first week, I tallied up my use, and found that every day I had taken one or two hits more than the day before. My libido was still going strong, and in fact I found that my sexual performance was better than usual. I wasn’t getting the same rush from smoking that I did the first few times, but I didn’t care because I still felt good, and I was getting more work done than I had ever before in my life.
Weeks later, I would talk to my wife and realize that I wasn’t really listening to her. I was amped and productive, but I lost the ability to think clearly. When asked for my opinion on something, I couldn’t come up with one. I stopped telling jokes and making smalltalk with my friends and coworkers. When somebody would ask me if I was okay, I would get defensive and find myself resenting them for poking their nose into my business. Once I realized that my use was eliciting concern, I hid it, sneaking off to the bathroom or the janitor’s closet every half hour to take a hit or three.
The pattern of my smoking developed into a cycle of 3 days of near sleeplessness followed by 12 hours of crashing during the day. Soon I was up to around 10-15 hits a day, with each hit less effective than the last. I was lucky to eat a bowl of cereal or a glass of juice each day, and my low fluid intake made my urine turn dark orange. In my first month I lost 25 lbs, and I was beginning to experience auditory and visual hallucinations. My sex drive vanished and I was incapable of getting an erection.
After a couple of months carrying on like this, my emotions were in ruins. I no longer cared what anybody thought, and I acted without regard for the feelings or wellbeing of anybody including my wife. The meth now only barely kept me above abject depression, and when I eventually had to crash due to physical exhaustion, the only thought in my mind was that a hit was exactly what I needed to feel better again.
Rather than accept the help of the people around me who love me, I pushed them away, resenting them for questioning my ability to take care of myself, and for getting between me and my false source of comfort. When my wife was brought to tears by her not understanding the change that had come over me, I questioned my love for her. In several months, methamphetamine had replaced the love that I had built over five years. Eventually, when she gave me an ultimatum, rightfully asking that I start demonstrating my love, or at least explain myself, in my atrophied mind I decided that I must not really love her anymore and told her as much.
I had completely lost control over myself, and decided that a chemical was more important to me than the love of my life, all in less than four months. I am still separated from her, and as a testament to the influence meth still has over me, I am incapable of remembering the happy times that we shared, and even as I write this today I am coming down from the three hits that I took this morning. My supply is dwindling, and I pray that I have the strength to resist making more.
It’s easy to think that I am untouchable and that no drug can allow me to lose control, but at least in my case, no amount of knowledge or good intentions could have saved me once I found the perfect drug to monopolize my life.
Methamphetamine turned me into a pathetic, heartless, lying monster and the saddest and most amazing thing is that I wasn’t even aware that it was happening until it was too late.
I’ll say it again. Drugs are painkillers. Watch yourself; take too many and they might just kill you.