August 18, 2005

Your toothache is but an illusion

The other week I ran into a former meth client who was at the courthouse paying some fines. My client looked healthy, and I got a hug and a thank you out of the meeting. It was really great to see this client, such a contrast from the scared and spun person of the beginning of the year.

I've had several clients with tell-tale teeth lately, either accused of meth possession, or of the other charges in the meth constellation: theft, burglary, forgery, identity theft. When they've opened their mouths to speak, I've seen the decay and wreckage inside. Man, it must hurt! I've been tempted to comfort them by telling them the good news that meth-mouth is a myth, and that therefore what they see in the mirror and feel in their cavities and gums is a myth, too.

If I did, I bet that they'd pull out of their dull ache quick enough to sock me in the mouth.

By the way, thanks to for identifying a new meth-related malady, Meth Brain, afflicting media critics and the bloggers who parrot them:

The feature that spun Slate editor-at-large Jack Shafer into something more closely resembling a meth user than a media critic was Newsweek’s look at methamphetamine abuse entitled “America’s Most Dangerous Drug”...

Shafer spews data points that show by some measures meth is on the decline... [I]solated numbers lacking the full context can do pretty much anything a writer wishes. The necessary context in this case comes from the most shocking piece of information in a Newsweek article that is brimming with tales of lives thrown away... The sensational aspects... pale next to the revelation that marijuana is the federal government’s top priority, not meth...

Methamphetamine isn’t a recreational drug, and its use can’t be casual. And Shafer further betrays his own ignorance of that when he compares pharmaceutical amphetamine with the bouillabaisse that is being cooked up in bathtubs across the nation. They don’t have the same effects or side-effects, including the psychotic behavior and yes, “meth mouth.”

In calling attention to meth, Newsweek of course was trying to sell magazines. But if their feature wakes up a few parents who think a little weed is all they have to worry about, it’s a bit over the top to spend as many words as were in the original story to take them out to the woodshed.