November 16, 2009

Features, Reviews

I was young. I was getting drunk in a dive in old Baja Oklahoma. It was so long ago the jukebox was wailing “Mendocino.” It was so long ago the dancers all wore tassels and thongs. A strobe light throbbed like the end of sex so even if you stared you could only see about half of what all was going on.

Big Betty danced on a tiny stage across from the bar. Big Betty’s best dance was when her feet stayed still. She leaned forward, put her hands on her knees and made her big, world famous breasts spin circles in opposite directions just like the rotors on a Chinook helicopter. Every strobe flash was a snapshot. Between flashes, the light behind the bar made her silver tassels blur. Big Betty would lean right over her audience and the audience would lean back so close that if they opened their mouths they could taste Big Betty’s sweat.

One romantic offered Big Betty a drink from his bottle of beer. She took the bottle from his hand. Then disdaining a drink, just as she straightened to step back and dance with her feet again, Big Betty broke that bottle right across that romantic’s head. The romantic staggered back heartbroken but he did not fall. Somebody caught him and pushed him toward the front door. He stumbled out blinded by his own blood. He left a trail to follow but no one bothered. Some other dance aficionado stole that romantic’s space near the edge of the stage. Throughout the night, boots and work shoes ground the pieces of that bottle back down to sand.

Her Name Was Lynn

A Kiowa named Lynn danced for me, just for me, that night on my table while I pretended not to give a damn. I had been subtly admiring Lynn the Kiowa for at least weeks. She was little, beautiful and brown. When she shook her head in the flashing light her hair would explode like a startled murder of crows. Then it would all magically fall back to exactly the way it had been. Even in her stripper shoes she couldn’t have been much more than five-foot-two. I don’t know, maybe she was eighteen. She leered at me while she danced. She was flexible as a gymnast. She bent all the way over from the waist and put her face a foot from mine. She looked right through my eyes down to the Faustian depths of my soul. She wore that wanton look a woman wears when she tells you, “You can do anything you want.”

And, she asked me, “Do you have any crystal meth?”

That was the very first time I ever heard it called that. Now, I have heard it called speed, ice, amp, glass, new school, crunch, whizz, fatch, rocket fuel and of course crank; because in the old days men used to smuggle it in motorcycle crankcases. I know at least a dozen more names. Bikers have names for methamphetamine like Eskimos have names for snow. There are different names when it is almost clear, pale yellow, tinged with violet or when it is brown and crunchy like peanut butter.

And, what I saw that night makes more sense when you understand that Big Betty and Lynn and some fraction of the rest of the people there that night were making the most of their lives through the magic of meth.

What Is Meth

Psychoactive drugs resemble chemicals for which evolution has already reserved a place, or receptor, in the human brain. Amphetamines resemble adrenaline. They were isolated in Japan and issued to Japanese soldiers during the Russo-Japanese War. Twenty-five years later a Philadelphia pharmaceutical firm named Smith, Kline and French (SKF) pirated the Japanese research, patented the chemicals and started marketing a Benzedrine inhaler “for quick relief of cold symptoms.” College students discovered what else amphetamines could do and in the late 30s SKF started marketing benzedrine as a treatment for fatigue, narcolepsy and obesity. During World War II SKF sold 180 million Benzedrine tablets to the U.S. Army and the tablets were also routinely fed to American troops in Korea and Vietnam.

Benzedrine is the most common brand name for the molecule 1-phenyl-2-aminopropane. A molecule with the same atomic components that assembles those atoms a little differently is brand named Dexedrine. If you methylate the final nitrogen atom in Dexedrine you make a molecule that was originally branded as Methedrine. The methylation makes methamphetamine harder to metabolize than Dexedrine, which means that meth has a longer half-life, which means it provides a longer, fuller, more satisfying high.

After SKF’s patents expired in 1949 there was an explosion of amphetamine production and use. A scholar named David Courtwright called post-war America an “amphetamine democracy” because truck drivers, factory workers, students, housewives, politicians and celebrities all took amphetamines to help them lead better and more productive lives.

Cool Kids Do It

A New York society doctor named Max Jacobson got rich selling Dexedrine and methamphetamine to celebrities. His clients included Johnny Mathis, Yul Brenner, Truman Capote, Cecil B. DeMille, Eddie Fisher, Otto Preminger, Anthony Quinn, Tennessee Williams and dozens of politicians including John F. Kennedy. Jacobson injected Jack Kennedy with either Methedrine or Dexedrine before at least two of Kennedy’s debates with Richard Nixon in 1960. So while the very straight Nixon was obviously nervous and tentative under the hot lights in front of the television cameras Kennedy was focused, collected and supremely confidant.

American mommies got so hooked on amphetamine diet pills that early in 1973 the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs and the Food and Drug Administration began tighter regulation of the drugs. Coincidentally, around the same time, Smith Kline and French discovered a new disease among children. SKF found a surprisingly large number of American children suffered from a “complex and little-understood learning and behavior disorder called,” at first, “minimal brain dysfunction.”

The disease quickly became known as Attention Deficit Disorder. SKF scientists found that 69 percent of all hyperkinetic children who were fed “moderate doses” of Benzedrine and Dexedrine “improved.” A very important man named Dr. Leon Eisenberg, Chief of Psychiatric Services at Massachusetts General Hospital, was trotted out to testify to the press that there was “no indication of addiction or other drug induced emotional or psychological damage” found in hyperactive children treated with amphetamine.

Amphetamines were marketed as “the penicillin of children with learning disabilities.” An amphetamine named methylphenidate was branded as “Ritalin” and the healing began.

White Trash Drug

In the 70s cocaine, (a brand name coined by the Bayer Drug Company the same year Bayer coined the brand names Aspirin and Heroin) replaced amphetamines as a cure for celebrities’ insecurity and housewives’ chubbiness. But bennies, dex and meth remained firmly entrenched in the aspirations of the white working class. For decades in America, upward mobility and prosperity were connected, rightly or wrongly, with working longer and harder. Truck drivers, for example, were paid by the load. A trucker who drove 20 hours a day could make more money than one who only drove ten hours.

Piece work on a punch press machine is really only possible with the aid of some amphetamine. Grab a piece of metal from a box on your right, slip it into one of three dies, tap your right foot, flip the partially finished part into a second die, tap, slide it into a third die with your left hand, tap, toss the finished, or partially finished, piece into a box on your left and repeat 6,000 times. Don’t screw up. You might lose a hand. Concentrate. Concentrate. Go home. Live your real life. Try to sleep. Get up. Repeat.

Or take the truck batteries off the pallet one by one and set them on the roller line. Drag the empty pallet to the other end of the line and restack the finished batteries. And, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat. Don’t think.

Or, the pre-eminent blue collar job, the job you had to know somebody to get. Scamper in front of a slowly moving line of cars and bolt on 52, or 56, or 61 bumpers an hour depending on how fast somebody a thousand miles away has decided the line must move that day. Do it hour after hour, day after day. Ask for overtime.

That was the seventies and the eighties. Those were the good, old days. Those were the jobs you could get before America became a “knowledge worker economy” and all the good, blue collar were assigned to slaves in China who live in dormitories.


After the jobs went away only the crank remained. Only the feeling of self-confidence and power methamphetamine promotes remained. And that is where Nick Reding picks up the story in his book Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town.

After methamphetamine use was increasingly criminalized in the early 1970s, after the flow of amphetamine from Mexico was interrupted, after the introduction of Sudafed made it comparatively easy to cook crank at home, after cocaine made powders chic, after freebase and crack, crank became a part of post-industrial American life. Crank became a get rich quick scheme. Crank became a cheap high. The line between buyers and sellers blurred. Motorcycle clubs in California and New Jersey competed for market share. The lingering effects of that competition persist today. Within the last five years even the New York Times and Newsweek have heard of crank.

Reding’s book is full of defects and it is still the best thing yet written on the subject because Nick Reding may be the first insider writer to actually notice the connection between methamphetamine abuse and the shattering of the American dream. Reding started looking at Oelwein, Iowa (it is pronounced Ol’ Wine) in 2005. Oelwein has a population of about 6,000 and before its disillusionment it was a quintessential American town. Most of Reding’s book is a sympathetic portrait of the people he met there.

Reding, who knows nothing about motorcycle clubs, still tries to be kind to a Sons of Silence patch holder named “Major.” Major worries about what his crank abuse might do or have done to his toddler son.

Reding tries to meet the county prosecutor, a man named Nathan Lein, halfway. The leading physician in Oelwein is a chain-smoking alcoholic named Clay Hallberg. A man named Roland Jarvis is such a grotesquely depraved crank fiend that the government should pay him to appear in anti-drug public service announcements.

The local Police Chief is a nut case named Jeremy Logan who intends to save Oelwein by telling his cops to “Assume everyone is guilty, and put the screws to them.”

Lori Arnold

Reding’s best source is a 45-year-old federal prisoner named Lori Arnold. Lori was born in the nearby town of Ottumwa and she is the sister of the character actor and comedian Tom Arnold. Tom Arnold might be best known as one of Roseanne Barr’s ex-husbands.

Lori Arnold started selling pharmaceutical grade methamphetamine in the 1970s and she is the former wife of a man named Floyd Stockdall. Stockdall was a former President of the Grim Reapers Motorcycle Club, from whom the Sons of Anarchy have borrowed their patch.

And the Grim Reapers, according to Reding, had a connection to a fairly well known meth lab in Southern California back in the 80s. Lori tried crystal, liked it, and gave some away to her friends. Her friends liked crank, too and within a month Lori was buying four ounces of meth in Long Beach for $2,500 and selling it for $10,000 in Iowa. Her business grew from there and by 1987 Lori, who dropped out of school in the 10th grade, owned a bar, a car dealership, 14 houses, 52 racehorses and a 144 acre horse farm. That was the same year most of the other farms in that part of Iowa were foreclosed and most of the railroad and meatpacking jobs disappeared.

Lori Arnold was an inspiration to her neighbors. But she liked her own product too much to get out. The feds caught her in 1990 and she wound up doing nine years.

By the time Lori Arnold got out of prison in 1999 most of the straight jobs had disappeared, the average wage had dropped to five dollars an hour and 80 percent of the jobs still left were held by undocumented Mexican immigrants. She went to work for Cargill, slicing up hogs in a room so cold she had to pour hot water over her rubber boots to keep her feet from going numb. And, since she was bright and desperate, Lori Arnold couldn’t help but notice that there was a racial divide between the high quality crank the Mexican workers used and the kitchen crank the white locals used. So like all good workers in the new knowledge worker economy, Lori Arnold used her mind.

By 2001, two years after she was sprung, Lori was selling so much Mexican crank to poor Iowa whites that she had to open another nightclub to launder all the money. Her success did not last long. On October 25th of that year she sold four ounces of meth to a local Iowa cop and returned to the penitentiary.

Trickle Down Economy

Since Methland was published last summer the reviews have been very mixed. Most of the critical reviews have scolded Reding for trying to do what this review has tried to do, which is to try to hint at “a unified theory of ‘the meaning of meth.'”

Scott Martelle for example, a journalism instructor at Chapman University who wrote the review for the Los Angeles Times, cannot bring himself to believe that methamphetamine abuse might be in any way connected to the shattering of the American dream. Martelle writes: “At first, Reding argues, meth was viewed as a crutch by local workers looking for a little boost to get through long double shifts. It’s not a persuasive argument. Substance abuse – from alcohol to pot to coke and now meth – in rural America has a lot of contributing factors, but the drive to work harder doesn’t seem likely to rank high among them.”

I think Reding’s argument is persuasive and I think it is about time somebody who can actually get a book published said it. Nick Reding has gone and looked and tried to sympathize so he understands that crank abuse is not the disease. Crank abuse, like Gin abuse in Dickens’ London, is a symptom of a disease that most cops, lawyers, judges, politicians, authors and, apparently, journalism instructors refuse to see. Reding sees what I see and so I think Methland deserves to be read.

You can get a copy on Amazon for $16.50.

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81 Responses to “Methland”

  1. Paladin Says:

    Dear Rebel;

    Excellent piece. And as always, long may you ride.


  2. Austin Says:

    It has been around eight years, since I first stumbled into Rebel Country, looking for an answer. This article is one of my favorite writings from this whole site.

    I eventually found what I was looking for, although it took a few more years to accept my new reality. I am grateful for the friendship, stories, jokes and support extended to me by Rebel and the crew here, and for articles like this one – which is still relevant, and which I still pass to a friend from time to time.

    This IS my only trusted news source & I can’t Thank You enough.

    Rebel On!

  3. fayettenamhoe Says:

    maybe i miss the self destruction

  4. JIW-AL Says:

    Its strange, the older i get the smarter the old man gets! and i’m 52. PANHEADS FOREVER

  5. fayettenam hoe Says:

    i must admit it was a bad thirty years ago, on that x-mas eve, when we all shared those needle things,, to admit that those needles got clogged up when others were standing in line for that taste of life expectancy, back then , our lives ment nothing to us, we even ate other peoples leftovers, a garbage can was a daily diet, a left over beer with a cigarrete butt was nourishment, that box of cheerios was allways empty, water was a mud puddle to ride thru towards the next bar, even today i see a mirror of things to come, no one should try to mimmic the past, most my so called friends died trying, if nothing else they died free, and now when i see someone riding their way to glory on a harley with all those attitude stickers stuck to a helmet or their arm, i know i will never be like them when they park that beast and get comfortly numb, even in my dreams the man hunts me down, Freedom is a curse, live it day and nite, with or with out the beast between your legs

  6. Mikonos Says:

    British researchers did an outstanding study of drug use and impact on society including impact on individuals, society, health care costs etc. On the long list alcohol was number four behind heroine, cocaine, barbiturates and street methadone. Alcohol is worse than Meth, LSD, Marijuana, Ecstacy and a host of others. When the guy presents his information he get’s fired. Tobacco was worse than weed!

    Maybe its my Dutch heritage, was in Holland last summer, you can smoke dope in the cafes but not cigarettes, guess they are ahead of the curve. This country needs to get real about where to focus limited LE resources. Also, why is it that when the MC’s get caught with dope (which by the way seems to be about their only crime of any merit they are actually charged with) it becomes these huge criminal conspiracies and when Hollywood gets caught they get a couple of days in the pokey at worst?

    From NPR:

    “Britain’s top drug adviser was fired Friday after saying that marijuana, Ecstasy and LSD were less dangerous than alcohol.

    David Nutt’s comments have embarrassed the British government, which toughened the penalties for possessing marijuana earlier this year over the protests of many prominent British scientists.”

  7. fayettenam hoe Says:

    that was a cold ride tonite, maybe i was trying to escape tommorrow, it did not happen, she hunts me down, through thick and the sludge, core, she can’t escape me , even caought i still spill it out, the pure love i detest, an American dream, a truth that no politician or dollar can bind me to, a hatred of lies, no brotherhood invovled, that man can love a hatred of common goals, and each other regardless of color, that is the true being inside, to hate all, not even trust myself, i am free, when i put my gun to my head, you mean nothing to me, on the street, i yeild, watching, laughing, slowly licking my rust

  8. Rebel Says:

    Dear Not Surprised,

    Drugs don’t kill people, I do.

    That was the line of the day by the way.

    your pal,

  9. Not Surprised Says:


    Drugs don’t kill people, I do……….

  10. fayettenam hoe Says:

    no sleep involved

  11. fayettenam hoe Says:

    the best i remmember was, the old ladies cooking up that xmas sneer, who next? got veins?

  12. Damon Says:

    Hey, fayettenam; what’s the best thing about crank? Only two more sleeps till Christmas!

  13. Philo Says:

    Drugs are bad, Mmmm-Kay?

  14. fayettenam hoe Says:

    no morphine involved, but it is nice

  15. fayettenam hoe Says:

    did you say methadrine? yummmy yum yum, no flying involved

  16. Square Verbose Doc Says:

    DOCB’s story about the “little wanker” perfectly illustrates the principle of thinking one is invulnerable!

  17. Square Verbose Doc Says:

    Add this; research shows that those at most risk to become addicted are those who carry genes that predispose to more impulsive, risk taking behaviors. Its not that genes are destiny, but they tend to push things in a certain direction. In the right genetic/environmental contexts, those genes help give us entrepreneurs, leaders, and warriors. They’re preserved in our gene pool for a reason. But many must carry them in genetic and environmental contexts where pro-risk taking genes predispose to problems like addiction instead of conspicuous success. One could say that the success of our species has required these genes to be present, and that those who carry them in contexts where they are exposed to the risks more than the benefits are in some sense taking a “genetic hit for the team”.

    As a physician, my hope is that someday we will be able to counsel people about their risks more accurately, so that they can make better decisions. Since we only know of a few genes that predispose to certain problems, and we do not understand how they interact with environment and other genes one might carry, we are not at this point yet. At the same time, I am extremely frightened about what could be done with poorly protected genetic information about individuals by government and most importantly by private corporations which in our world excercise as much or more influence than the government.

    I don’t have easy answers for this one yet.

  18. Square Verbose Doc Says:

    Probably no one starts with the intention of becoming addicted; they either don’t think about it at the time, or discount the possibility. Since different people become addicted with different times and amounts of exposure, everyone has had the experience of seeing people use without becoming addicted (yet). Based on this, they figure to themselves “yeah, I can handle it” and feel that they will not be among those who become addicted. Add to this that for many first exposures to addictive drugs come when they are young enough that they still feel fairly invulnerable.

  19. Bystander Says:

    I’d say in my first husband’s case, in the beginning it was his choice to use crank to stay awake for a night job. Didn’t take much for it to become an addiction that he could not break free of. I went into debt trying to keep the family afloat while he spent everything he made on crank. Started with snorting, graduated to smoking “chasing the dragon”, trying to catch the good high, but never quite getting there. Our life was a shambles. We were “ships that passed in the night”. Our kids suffered, I suffered. And in the end, 16 years after his first taste of meth, he suffered, while his liver was dying. Meth is poison and I describe it as the work of the devil. It kills you, plain and simple. In his last 2 weeks of life he went to drug abuse meetings and pleaded with the guys to never use meth again. Many promised him they wouldn’t, and quite a few went right back to it after mandatory drug tests ended. He’d be sad to know that. That was nearly 6 yrs ago. Ironically, my second husband is a one percenter who doesn’t touch drugs. Life is good again.

  20. DOC Says:

    Dear not-a-hippy

    OK, real qouck, just for grins, then I’m outa here. I’ve spent more time on this than I wanted to.

    Mom caught her little boy jerking off. She advised him of how sinfull it was. Before she left she said “If you keep doing that you’ll go blind.” When she was gone the little boy said “Well, I’ll just do it till I need glasses.”
    If you’re an adict, by the time you “NEED GLASSES” you can’t see to find them.

    I’m done with this


  21. not-a-hippie Says:

    Doc, it is about choices. Back in the day, when we really didn’t have a clue about the long term effects, I would’ve agreed with you. But today? Today we’ve got more information about the evils of all drugs than we did back then—a whole lot more.

    Today, there’s no excuse for being addicted to drugs, except it is your choice to do it.

    Hey, Mr. Aging Rebel—-cooool site. I’ve been meaning to write it all down, but who would believe it? I was a perspective prospect for the 81 back in ’74 in Bridgeport. I got involved in acid and that was the end of my club career. I sincerely regret not making the cut.

  22. Not Surprised Says:

    Damon, look. This isn’t something I’m so invested in that I get personal with people over it. But there is a tremendous difference between studying addiction or knowing addicts than in battling your own addiction.

    That doesn’t qualify me as some sort of expert. But you keep using the word “sympathy”. You say addiction is a “lifestyle choice.”

    You don’t have a clue, Damon. It’s OK with me that you don’t, but you still don’t.

    Ok I’m done. I respect your opinion.

  23. DOC Says:

    Dear Damon

    The base of your arguments seems to be that chemical dependancy is somehow connected to “choices”. A truly chemically dependant person suffers because he no longer has the ability to chose. He can’t “just say no”. Chemical dependancy is an illness. Willpower doesn’t work on the illness of addiction any better than it works on diareha. In either case if willpower is your only treatment you wake up with a real mess on your hands. I can’t MAKE anyone buy that it is an illness. You either buy it or you don’t. If you believe that it is an illness your whole theory of addiction goes down the tube. Please be open and just think about the possibilities of illness instead of morality.


  24. Damon Says:

    My mistake. Thanks for the tip.

  25. Not Surprised Says:

    I see moral judgements on this page every day. I can’t help but think that “I always looked at crack as a nigger drug, never touched it.” is probably a moral judgement and then some.

    Damon, the above isn’t a moral judgement, its called racism.

  26. Damon Says:


    I agree that there needs to be a lot better treatment programs. I haven’t yet seen one single country that’s really getting it right. there are some promising pilot programs, but that’s about it. And from what I see, most of those programs are in countries where big government bankrolls social justice programs. I don’t see too much public money being spent on treatment of addiction in the USA. I am amazed at the crazy levels of imprisonment here. And from what I can tell, there’s barely enough money to even put a roof over their heads, let alone discuss rehab options.

    The road back, from what I’ve seen, always comes from the individual. If the individual makes a commitment to come back from addiction, there’s often an awful lot of help out there, in my experience. Where the will is strong enough, I’ve seen people kick their habits alone. Where the will really isn’t there, it doesn’t matter what you do, it’s not going to help. Change has to start from within.

    Welcome back.

  27. Damon Says:

    Not Surprised

    Yep, I think we can take it as read that you and I don’t see eye to eye on this one. Although I did study addiction back in the early 90s, most of my opinions – and they are just my opinions – have been based on my own experiences with addiction and addicts. If I’m ignorant, it has been far from blissful gaining the experience.

    I guess I could post a list of bad shit, the stepdaughter’s fatal overdose, the friend who used to make cash magically disappear whenever he came to visit, babysitting people who were hanging out, hoping that whoever they’d sent to score hadn’t run off with the gear, we’ve all got lists of those stories. My point is this – of all the many junkies I’ve met, not one of them could ever look someone in the eye and truthfully say “I never knew you could get hooked on this stuff”.

    They may not have fully appreciated the details of the consequences. But come on, man. Heroin is addictive. Crack is addictive. Injecting yourself is really crossing a line, and it’s probably a really, really bad idea. Cigarettes give you lung cancer. Beanies probably won’t prevent head injury as well as a full face. We all make our own choices. The information is out there and it’s all fucking bad when it comes to heroin and crack.

    I fully expect to pay a physical price for all the shit I’ve put into my body over the last thirty odd years. C’est la vie. If I don’t have the lung capacity to chase my grandkids around the garden, or my liver finally gives out, I got no-one to blame but myself. Some things really are people’s own stupid fault. I try not to apply judgements on others that I don’t apply to myself.

    So, yes, you got me dead to rights there. That’s a moral judgement. You reap what you sow. It’s what my personal experiences have taught me to expect from life – if you deliberately put yourself in harm’s way for no damn good reason other than “It seemed like a good idea at the time” or “I didn’t think it would happen to me”, you’ll generally tend to get less sympathy than if you’re the victim of an accident. This is most certainly where you and I differ. I have more sympathy for some stupid RUB who gets a punch in the teeth for wearing a SAMCRO cut to Laughlin than I do someone who chooses heroin as a lifestyle.

    There’s another moral judgement for you. I believe that addiction is a lifestyle choice. I’ve known far more users than I’ve known addicts. I’ve seen some people dry themselves out, go the methadone, get interventioned on, get dried out in jail, have parents (yeah, and step-parents, I’m flagging some of my own bias here) pay for expensive rehab rpograms….and sometimes they just keep going back…they miss the life, they miss the excitement, they miss living on their wits, they miss life being very very simple – every day, all you have to do is one thing. Score. That’s it. They don’t want to give up the lifestyle. Maybe that doesn’t apply to everyone. It does apply to all the junkies I’ve know.

    I see moral judgements on this page every day. I can’t help but think that “I always looked at crack as a nigger drug, never touched it.” is probably a moral judgement and then some. I don’t care who’s popularised it, my criteria has always been 1. does it make me feel good? and 2. how much is it going to cost me?

    Question 2 is often one of them multi-faceted questions.

    This is a touchy subject. We’ve all lost people. Nothing personal, man. I’m just trying to make sense of it all.

  28. DOC Says:

    Dear Damon

    “Well, personally sir I’ve always believed it stems from man’s inherent need to alter his consciousness…”

    You’re right 100%. And for most people it’s recreational. Some folks get sick from it. As Not Suprised once stated about turning it on and not being able to turn it off. It’s a “feeling” illness.

    When I first started using it made me feel really good. Later it only made me feel better, and at the end it made me not feel at all. Chemical dependancy is a progressive illness. It always gets worse over time. It cost me everything at one point. It cost me what I loved the most, Bikes and Brothers. (no family to loose)Finally, about 26 years ago a Biker I didn’t even know sucked me out of the legal system and helped me put a life together. I came to believe that I’m one of those people that can have a life or I can have a drink. But I can’t have both at the same time.

    “What doesn’t kill you can make you stronger”

    It’s a small percentage of people that have the illness of chemical dependancy. It’s a life threatening illness and needs profesional
    treatment, not punishment.


    I’ll start using DocB to avoid confusion. the name Doc has always been a high risk name.

  29. Not Surprised Says:


    Good thoughts, all. A lot of your commentary however perfectly illustrates what Doc said:

    “We live in a moralistic and judgmental culture–based on what you’ve posted while I’ve been here, I can tell that you’ve experienced the results of that far more than I. People are very resistant to reason when it challenges their subjective moral beliefs. I can tell you that it is still difficult to get many people who suffer from severe depression past the idea that their illness is a moral failing.”

    You said:

    “I also believe that if we truly value the personal freedom to choose our own poison, it behooves us to do some research and take responsibility and not whine at the consequences. The news has been out for a while that heroin is addictive. I never met anyone in fifty years who missed that memo. It’s why I never used the shit. That, and the fact that vomiting then falling asleep wasn’t what I was looking for in a recreational drug experience.

    Same with crack. Granted, crack never really made it to Australia. The quality of the local meth has been more than enough to keep coke and it’s derivatives an expensive niche drug. But, if crack were freely available and cheap as chips, would I smoke it? You’re fucking kidding me. It’s addictive. People I trust to know such things tell me that it is so. Keep it away from me. Every addict I ever knew went into it with their eyes open.

    I’ve always figured that people must think that it won’t happen to them. I feel sorry for people that are given drugs by someone who spent 7 years training, and get sick. That shouldn’t happen. I don’t feel sorry for people who inject themselves with heroin and then want a marker because they have an addiction. Give me a break.”

    Assignment of blame.

    You feel sorry for an addict who developed the addiction because a Doctor overperscribed an addictive substance, but disdain a heroin user.

    That is a moralistic judgement.

    “Every addict I ever knew went into it with their eyes open.”

    Man, this statement reeks of ignorance.

    When I was pursuing my own recovery through attendance at 12 step meetings, I experienced a well-known prejudice:

    Recovering alcoholics looked down on those recovering from drug addiction.

    I have to admit though that such “mental disconnects’ helped to keep me in addiction. I always sought out those I thought were worse off than me so I could say “well, I must not be an addict because I don’t do what these people do”.

    When I worked at a residential treatment facility, I noticed that people grouped themselves socially based on their drug of choice more than they did because of gender, ethnicity or any other factor.

    In your own stated “economy of scales”, you seem to draw the distinction between intentional and unitentional addiction.

    Feeling sorry or assigning fault are both “after action” responses both of which are essentially worthless except as personal opinion.

  30. Damon Says:

    I was on a course for army corporals deemed ready to become sergeants. day one you always get the drug lecture from the MPs. This one is a Warrant Officer and I can’t help thinking of Officer Stedenko of the Narcotics Bureau on Big Bambu.

    “The Army has a no drugs policy” Here we go, I’m bored out of my mind already.

    “If you are caught using or possessing drugs you will be liable to penalties both civil and military” Twenty years ago man, and I still remember this shit word for word.

    “Can anyone tell me one of the reasons why people use drugs? Yes, Corporal Damon”

    “Well, personally sir I’ve always believed it stems from man’s inherent need to alter his consciousness…”

    I believed it then, I believe it now. People take drugs because it makes them feel good. At least, it makes them feel better than they feel when they don’t use it.

    That’s it. It’s as much a part of the human condition as opposable thumbs and anthropomorphised deities.

    People will use whatever is available locally. Often, drugs make people feel so good they figure something magical is happening. Hence the inextricable link between drugs and gods. This latest craze for powders has thrown things on it’s ear a bit, because suddenly we have drugs for which we have no rituals, no rites. We’re at the cutting edge, making up drug etiquette as we go along.

    History has shown that, all over the world, people will use whatever is available to them to get high. If all the meth in the world disappeared tomorrow, well, at least we always have booze. I’ve worked in indigenous communities in the desert, 5 or 6 hours drive down a dirt road from the nearest bar. So, they sniff petrol. In Glasgow, they sniff glue. In Tonga they drink after-shave. I’ve seen it.

    I also believe that if we truly value the personal freedom to choose our own poison, it behooves us to do some research and take responsibility and not whine at the consequences. The news has been out for a while that heroin is addictive. I never met anyone in fifty years who missed that memo. It’s why I never used the shit. That, and the fact that vomiting then falling asleep wasn’t what I was looking for in a recreational drug experience.

    Same with crack. Granted, crack never really made it to Australia. The quality of the local meth has been more than enough to keep coke and it’s derivatives an expensive niche drug. But, if crack were freely available and cheap as chips, would I smoke it? You’re fucking kidding me. It’s addictive. People I trust to know such things tell me that it is so. Keep it away from me. Every addict I ever knew went into it with their eyes open.

    I’ve always figured that people must think that it won’t happen to them. I feel sorry for people that are given drugs by someone who spent 7 years training, and get sick. That shouldn’t happen. I don’t feel sorry for people who inject themselves with heroin and then want a marker because they have an addiction. Give me a break.

    Prison isn’t the answer. Legalisation is no panacea either. In South Australia, they legalised possession of two plants for personal use. Home-invasion burglaries have gone through the roof, over 80% being pot ripoffs. This is where it’s legal to grow your own. People want what’s easy. I was in Amsterdam a few years ago. First cafe I walked into had a big sticker behind the counter – “This Business Supports The Big Red Machine”. When drugs are legalised, overall, very little seems to change.

    I hope the Denmark experiment works out (, although similar programs have had mixed results, Also keep in mind that Denmark’s size and population are roughly equivalent to Maryland. In this country, a lot of people are opposed to the government bankrolling affordable health care. I can’t wait to see the day that the US Congress can create a bipartisan harm-minimisation based national drug policy. I can’t wait to see that.

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