Substance abuse has become quite a large problem in the US. Roughly 4 years ago, methamphetamine became the illegal drug of choice in Indiana with Fulton County having the regrettable claim of the highest concentration of meth labs in the state (if not the country) at that time. Law enforcement has cracked down on this problem and as of 2015 Indiana led the nation in meth busts. Law makers have passed stricter laws making it harder to get the precursors for meth production and although meth continues to be a problem, there are unfortunately all kinds of substances that continue to be used and abused. Heroin use seems to be on the rise but meth is probably the larger problem in this area of the country which has no doubt affected my choice of books from the substance abuse section of the Fulton County Public Library. It is, however, important to be aware of other illegal substances.
Until reading about designer drugs, I didn’t really understand what they are. Designer drugs are created from synthetic compounds made in a lab. They are not plant based and are often very dangerous. Production of designer drugs in illegal labs is extremely dangerous. Interestingly many of the designer drugs started out in legal labs for medicinal reasons. For instance Meth was originally used as a weight loss product and then in nasal sprays before being pulled from the market when it was noticed that the drug had addictive qualities as well as adverse long term effects. Several other designer drugs were pulled off of the market due to undesired side effects but not before many people got hooked on them. Black markets were born but production quality decreased almost guaranteeing eventual negative side effects and sometimes death. In the book Designer Drugs by Paul Robbins, the author follows drug origins from the (often) legal production to the illegal street versions and explaining along the way who the people are that want to use these drugs and why.
Following these stories was quite interesting and informative. Despite the obvious chemistry and manufacturing that goes into the production of designer drugs, the book is written in an easy to understand format and is very reader friendly. I would even go as far as to say some of the stories are entertaining although unfortunate. Designer Drugs is a small book which is packed with information. With only 7 chapters it covers topics such as the characteristics of designer drugs, the differences between MPTP and Speed, why people choose drugs like Ecstasy and the Fentanyl Analogs, individual drug use, families and drug abuse, society and drug abuse, and how to get help for drug abuse. The book has fairly short chapters with a few discussion questions at the end of each chapter making the book useful as a classroom textbook or even a support group resource.
In If Only You People Could Follow Directions Jessica Hendry Nelson shares her experiences of being in a family dealing with addiction. While I can’t exactly say I enjoyed this book, I did find parts of it interesting. I found the jumbled time sequences hard to follow and had a definite distaste for much of the language used in the book. I nearly didn’t finish the book because of this. Despite these reasons, I continued to read and what emerged was the story of an imperfect family trying to survive addictive behavior related to substance use and abuse. As a child growing up in this environment, Jessica’s experiences and memories do seem to be fragmented always revolving around the current crisis. The jumbled time sequences are likely trying to portray the out of control feeling experienced by families in crisis. Jessica’s family seems to be held together more by crisis than by family bond. Despite it all, Jessica appears to have left her dysfunctional roots and moved on to become a successful writer.
After reading about drugs themselves, the abuse of drugs, and families in crisis because of drugs, the obvious next choice was to read something dealing with how to stop abusing drugs. Given the meth problem in this area of the country, I’ve heard a lot about the issue and know about how addictive meth is. Wondering what it takes for someone to stop using, Quitting Crystal Meth by Joseph Sharp seemed to be the next logical choice for me to read.
Joseph Sharp is a former meth addict who is nonjudgmental and respectful to the reader. After someone decides to quit meth, Joseph explains how to prepare to quit by trying to anticipate questions a user may have such as “Do I really have to ‘hit bottom’?” and “Should I detox alone or with a doctor?” Several other concerns are also addressed in the “getting ready” phase. The author goes on to explain everything from exactly what to expect during the actual detox, the weeks and months following through the first year and even some time after that. The possibility of relapse is discussed and what to do about it if it happens. Along with all of this, Joseph interjects his own experiences and also talks about the need to establish a good support system and how to get help to quit meth if needed.
Below are some websites which can help you through the process of quitting:
Other sites than may be helpful are:
If you Google the words “images faces meth users” you will bring up a series of pictures showing how meth dramatically ages a person and you will see visible damage to the human body. These photos are graphic (so not shared here). View at your own discretion. The majority of the photos are only from the neck up, but they can be difficult to view. In my opinion they are effective deterrents to starting meth. If you or someone you know already is a current user of meth, please view the images to educate yourself on what this deadly drug does to people. I would highly recommend the book Quitting Crystal Meth by Joseph Sharp to anyone struggling with meth addiction. Please seek help. There is hope and the bravest thing a user can do is to seek help.