February 27, 2012

Methland, by Nick Reding

Sorry for the two supremely dark posts in a row.  I promise to lighten up in the future!

For this month’s book club, we’re reading the nonfiction book Methland: The Death and Life and an American Small Town, by Nick Reding.  It’s about the meth epidemic in small-town America.  So fascinating and so well-written.  (I’m now a huge Nick Reding fan and want to go read everything he’s ever written.) 

It’s full of well-told stories and all kinds of interesting information.  Did you know that Hitler was a meth addict, which might account for his erratic behavior and Parkinson’s-like symptoms at the end?  Did you know that meth was invented in 1898 and was proscribed by doctors for everything from weight gain to a pick-me-upper into ~ what was it? ~ the 50s or 60s?  And did you know that Tom Arnold’s sister Lori was a meth drug kingpin in the Midwest for years?

Meth’s high apparently lasts six or seven hours ~ the long shoulder, as they call it ~ as opposed to crack which only lasts about a half hour.  Apparently, the drug takes over the basic reward system in your brain, and everything that used to feel good (food, sex, etc.) no longer does and the only way to feel good is with increasing amounts of the drug.

The personal and nationwide impact of the drug is horrendous (more on this in a minute).  I was looking at the meth statistics for Wyoming, and apparently there’s reason to be optimistic. Meth use among high school students is down, the number of meth labs went from 60 to 6, and the state did a huge billboard and awareness campaign that seems to be helping.  Above is an example of a billboard (though from Montana). 

Nick tells the story of one particular long-time meth addict who accidentally lights his mother’s house on fire, runs out, but then keeps going back in.  His flesh is burning on his body, and he stands in the yard and tries to peel long strips of flesh from his arms only he can’t because his fingers are burned off.

Nick’s hypothesis is that meth is the only drug that goes hand-in-hand with small-town working-class America. 1) The drug was legal and proscribed for a long time.  2) It helps people work harder.  3) Jobs and opportunities in small-town America have recently been severely reduced, and the only way for people either to work harder or to escape the life they’ve been reduced to is to take meth.  4) It’s cheap and easy to produce in small labs.

A very well-written eye-opening book about a horrible situation.


Dave said...

Meth is a direct result of the war on drugs. It is spcifically designed to be hard to interdict. Now that law enforcemnt is busting meth labs, users have turned to making their own. Check out "Shake-and-Bake meth."

Tamara said...

Interesting! The book talks about people riding around on bicycles and making meth, of all things. Crazy. Do you have a big problem there at the college or nearby on the res?

(Searching for "shake and bake meth" I came across this blog http://somechicksblog.com/ - interesting.)

Thanks for stopping by, Dave!

~ Tamara