August 02, 2005

America, welcome to our nightmare

Methamphetamine has gone mainstream and made the cover of Newsweek. Pay a visit to the photo gallery for a trip to "Meth Valley," with a pocketful of bindles, a horrific view of what your forearm looks like after you've tried to claw out the "meth bugs," and this quote that, if it's to be believed, proves once and for all that crank makes you crazy,

...which many addicts have made on-the-go, cooking in the back seat of their cars as they drive down two-lane country roads.

Watch out for potholes, tweaker. Uh-oh; Bump - KaBlam!

The main article mentions the Dr. Rieux of this plague, Dr. Alex Stalcup. I've heard Dr.Stalcup speak: his approach to meth addiction is sensible and humane, and most of all, it seems to work:

"Meth doesn't lend itself to removing a person from the drug environment, treating them and putting them back in," says Stalcup, whose first experience in addiction medicine came when he ran the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic in San Francisco.

Environmental cuing is emblematic of meth use, he explains... Fifty percent of treatment success comes from restructuring the addict's lifestyle, Stalcup says. Once the patient has been stabilized by the first three steps in recovery -- sleep, sleep, sleep -- and drugs have been prescribed for possible mental illness or depression, Stalcup dictates a daily regimen.

To someone whose life has been erratic, that routine can be as hard as sleeping eight hours, exercising, eating three regularly spaced meals and enjoying at least one positive social contact a day.

"A landmark day in recovery is not when they stop using drugs," Stalcup says. "It's when they start experiencing pleasure again."

A profoundly decent physician....

In 1999, Dr. Stalcup said that one hurdle to treating meth as a national health problem has been geography - at the time, meth was considered mostly a rural and a Western drug:

“I don’t think anyone cares. Traditional drug epidemics get ignored until they hit Washington, D.C., or New York.”

He was right, as we see. As it creeps up on the finer suburbs and the eastern seaboard, meth is making a media splash, in the NY Times, now in Newsweek. I defended my first meth case seven years ago. Glad as I am that the national spotlight is on meth now - people, what took you so long?

(thanks to Sancho for the tip)

p.s.: Why should I care? It's not just professional, it's personal.