Reflections on the Meth Menace

Addicted to Meth
A Portrait of the Ravages of Meth

 A Cautionary Tale about Dancing with the Monster

I happened to stumble upon a video report on the state of Meth- Amphetamine addiction in Fresno California – which can be accessed by doubling clicking on the link at the bottom of this essay – and it was shocking…to say the least.   I am amazed that Meth is still a problem in the US.  This is a very dangerous drug!  I know whereof I speak; I tried it once almost fifty years ago.  I was living in Philly at the time and we called Meth “Monster.”  The way I came to try it was happenstance.  And although it was my first and last time, it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life!

I had been awake over 24 hours reading William L. Shirer’s engrossing masterpiece “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” a massive tome based on official German documents captured and translated by western intelligence agencies after World War II.  It is a book of several hundred pages (I forget the exact number) and I couldn’t put it down.  So I had taken to drinking black coffee to stay awake, when a friend of mine – Jomo Jones – came by my crib about six in the evening.  I began telling him about the book and noted how I was fighting off sleep to continue reading.

“So you wanna stay awake?’ he asked. Well I got something here that will keep you awake as long as you want to stay up.”   He broke out a little plastic bag with some white crystal powder and said just snort some of this up your nose like you would a Vicks inhaler whenever you feel yourself getting sleepy.”  Well, this was the beginning of a nightmare which landed me in the hospital three days later convinced I was having a massive heart attack. 

I was so convinced of it that I ran out of my crib eight o clock at night in my drawers clutching my chest and screaming that I was dying from a heart attack!  I ran up to a group of my neighbors passing by, clutched my chest, and announced that I was having a heart attack, then I dramatically fell to the ground as if I was dying!  They of course quickly called the emergency wagon and I was soon off to the hospital in an ambulance with lights flashing and siren blaring!!

I was rushed  into the emergency room of Hanneman Hospital on Broad Street laid out on a stretcher, and a team of doctors hurried to save my life.   But the more they examined me they quieter they got.  They hooked me up to a machine and measured my heart rate….looked at each other again, and began to mumble back and forth.

They just stared at me silently, until the appointed spokesman asked “Sir, what makes you think you are having a heart attack?  There is nothing wrong with your heart.”   When they told me I was alright, I sat right up as if nothing had happened and tried to play it off with some improvised BS.  But the doctors’ weren’t buying my story and insisted upon knowing why I Thought I was having a heart attack.

In my still paranoid mind I thought they were trying to entrap me, that they had figured out I had ingested an illegal drug and had either called the police already or were planning to do so.  Suddenly, visions of the gendarmes coming to put me in chains danced about in my head – especially since I was a radical activist and was half paranoid anyway – I started to jump up and flee, but I thought the better of it since I was dressed only in a hospital gown.  Hence I decided to use my verbal skills to plead my case.  I began to tell them that I was a honorable young man during serious work and they were about to ruin my life and career by turning me over to the cops!

They looked at me like the madman that I was and the spokesman calmly replied “We have already figured out that you have been experimenting with some kind of controlled substance,” but explained that in order to help me they needed to know what it was.  The doctor when on to calmly explain “We are neither preachers nor policemen; we are physicians.  We are not interested in the moral or legal aspects of your behavior, only the pharmacology.”  When T told them I had ingested something called “Methodrine” they became alarmed.

They explained to me that this was a very dangerous drug, and when I tried to tell them how much I took by referring to the approximate size of the pile Jomo had poured, they told me that since it was made by crooks they had no way of really measuring how much I had ingested because not knowing it’s exact chemical composition “we don’t know what a dose is.” 

These things had never occurred to me when I snorted the Monster.  Now I was sitting in the emergence feeling like the world’s biggest fool.  The doctors conferred with each other, and after a series of grunts and nods of the head they told me they were going to put me on sedatives for the next couple of days and ordered me to my bed.

Then came the most surprising moment of the evening.  Although I had Blue Cross/Blue Shield – cause I had a job with benefits, an increasingly scarce opportunity for young people entering the work force today – I didn’t know my policy number and other important information, since I was healthy as a horse and had never had occasion to use it.  So as I began to discuss he could arrange payment for my visit – since I had arrived in my skivvies with neither money nor identification papers on my person – the doctors offered to barter their services.

The spokesman said to me “There is a demand that has emerged from the Civil Rights Movement that is all over the news and has a lot of people confused.  And you look like if anybody can explain what it means you can.”  I guess he surmised that from my sizable Afro and beard, which was usually well groomed bit was looking real wild and crazy at the time.  And with a deep breath, as all eyes fixated on me, he put the question forthrightly: “What does Black Power mean?” 

With a sigh of relief, I sat straight up on my bed and held forth in a compelling lecture.  They thanked me profusely, gave me a robe, and arranged for me to be driven home.  That was the end of me and Meth.  However I had other friends whose decision to dance with the Meth Monster ended tragically. One example will suffice. 

I once had a dear friend who was highly educated, a lawyer and a musician and great at both, a husband and father of the first order.  One night on a gig he was turned on to meth by a fellow musician who told him it would keep him awake and alert better than cocaine, the dangers of which my friend knew and thus stayed away from.  He thought Monster was a safer choice, plus it was cheaper.  Well, he got hooked.  To make a short tragic story shorter, I’ll cut to the chase.  One Christmas morning his wife called me in a fit of hysteria, she said my friend had “lost his mind.”  First he was running around the house saying there were zombies and Vampires hiding in the closets and they were trying to pull him in.

He terrified the children and then he ran screaming from the house, jumped in the car and sped off, crashed into a steel pillar holding up the elevated train, totaled the car and killed himself…on Christmas morning.  That was enough to scare me away from hard drugs and especially the hallucinogens forever. Hence I went through the sizzling sixties and never took an acid trip, never ate any mushrooms, never smoked Peyote or messed with Mescalito.   Except for wisdom weed, rum and wine I was sober as a judge while all around me people were experimenting with them all!

Yet I thought there were enough tragic stories about the disastrous effects of abusing the Meth Monster to have have driven it off the market.  Not so, I discovered in this gripping video report.  Instead I learned that, as with cocaine, Meth addicts are now smoking it the way coke heads turned to “Free Basing” and then to Crack.

If you have any friends or loved ones who are abusing this dangerous drug, you should intervene immediately, if not sooner, and let them know that it is as addictive as crack and far more destructive to the body!  Plus it can make them do some very crazy destructive things – to themselves and all those around them.  For this reason the Monster must never be legalized…and abusers should be forced into treatment by order of the courts….and the suppliers should feel the full force of the laws: the more draconian the better!

Messing with the Monster can Fuck you Up
Addicted to Meath II
I bet she wishes she had never met The Monster!!
 Double click yo view video report


 Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
Harlem, New York







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