In 2014 I wrote an article for Hope Rehab in Thailand when I was their head of counselling, it was regarding crystal meth (meth amphetamine). (You can view that article by clicking here) It was a simple piece on what is crystal meth and where it came from. It was to give some guidance on how to grapple with it, because believe it or not, outside of drug using subcultures very little was known about it. This includes parents, family members, brothers, sisters, cousins and even the police.
I’m sure by now since you’re reading this you’ve probably seen the “faces of meth” memes that have been passed about the internet over the years. People dressed in orange prison jumpsuits, probably caught after days of being awake, faces all drawn out and scabby. However, what you haven’t seen are the faces of meth that are all around you. The semi-functional drug user faces of meth, I use the term semi-functional as when drug use really takes hold a person’s life is usually marred by severe consequences in some aspects of their well-being one of the following:
- Family life
- Strained, absent or distance relationships with friends or lover
- Unhealthy body
- Unhealthy mind, plagued with insomnia, depression and anxiety
- Loss of job or frequent trouble with work
Sometimes, or is more often the case, a lot of meth users can present themselves with a public face, one of which where the cracks are none too obvious to be called out. They may seem a little preoccupied or stressed out, perhaps unusually solitary or tired all the time.
These people can often hold down jobs, they may also be working with the police, healthcare services and other jobs of high responsibility that can often seem at complete polar opposites to their position.
The last two years (written in 2021, namesake of crisis omitted due to internet censorship) have been really tough on everyone. Smoking cigarettes has increased in the uk (https://www.bbc.com/news/health-58317263), psychosis has increased by 75% (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/oct/18/psychosis-cases-soar-in-england-as-pandemic-hits-mental-health) and the entire world has been saddened by isolation, grief and despair.
Unfortunately, where ever mental health suffers, drug use is seldom left out.
Although it was speculated that drug lines would be severely impaired due to the pandemic, quite the opposite has been true. The UK’s project ADDER has helped disrupt ‘county drug lines’, but the police are a few steps behind the modernisation of drug distribution. No longer do people have to hang around on street corners to get a fix, they can wait 24hrs and have it delivered by mail to their home address practically undetectable to the law.
Drug production in countries largely responsible for the manufacturing of meth have increased their efforts during the pandemic, with some reports indicating that this production has increased by over 200-500%.
Since 2014, when I wrote that article, meth usage has been growing ever since across the entire world and since 2020 things have only gotten worse.
One user reported to me recently that he received psychiatric hospitalisation after using mail-order meth sent from the dark net during 2020. He stated that he was able to order a gram of meth for just $20 and it would arrive from Europe in 24 Hrs. At first he saw it as a welcome break from the norm, a chance to relive some previous youth drug experiences spent going out to raves. He found the experience enjoyable and with no work commitments he was able to indulge himself without anyone knowing.
However, despite this reliving of a honey-moon, and believing he could exercise caution with the drug, he soon found his life going off-track. Within days he was leaving the curtains shut all day long to play video-games and smoke more cheap darknet gear. As is often the case, his tolerance increased and he began to increase the dose bit by bit.
He eventually became hooked on watching the news and smoking meth, as the news was mostly bad news it played into his paranoia where he began to read other alternative theories as to what was going on. This bombardment of bad news coupled with his anxiety spurred on a psychotic episode.
There is no telling how wide-spread this potential horror has been, a lot of substance use disorder clients don’t like to air in any forum that they’ve been breaking the law and suffering the effects of illegal drugs. A lot of people suffer in silence, but they will most certainly not suffer alone. They will in turn affect their parents, spouse, family and other loved ones too.
The only hope that this has confronted many people to explore how they can recover and build a new life for themselves based on purpose, vision and a better future for themselves and everyone around them.
Visit here for more information on the growing concern regarding meth usage in Australia: