One of the most damaging drugs of our age has to be crystal meth (aka Tina, Crank, Speed, Ice, etc.), which doesn't discriminate when it comes to those who get caught up and spun into its dangerously addictive web. It seems to attract and in turn hook members of every age, gender, race, economic background, and sexual orientation it can, if given half the chance. However, of all the groups that fall prey to the drug, it seems that the urban gay communities are the most resourceful in their fight against meth, or at least in disseminating useful information about the drug's dangers. But others are active too, including the infamous, sobering Multnomah County Oregon State campaign that shows the before-and-after pictures of meth abusers. The visually powerful project began when a deputy in the Corrections Division Classification Unit put together mug shots of persons booked into Oregon's Multnomah County Detention Center -- not pretty. Although not one of these meth offenders booked into the North West detention center, Mark E. Smith of the Fall (right), who is an admitted longtime speed freak (inspiration for the Fall's classic "Totally Wired" came from somewhere), could easily qualify as a part of this shocking-but-effective anti-drug campaign. One of meth's side effects is the awful damage it does to teeth.
The Los Angeles bus-stop poster (above) photographed directly outside Amoeba Music Hollywood about a month ago was sponsored by West Hollywood's weholife.org, which is funded by the City of West Hollywood. According to this organization and other US health groups, longterm and widespread methamphetamine abuse can lead to devastating medical, psychological, and social consequences. Its abuse can include such adverse health effects as memory loss, aggression, psychotic behavior, heart damage, malnutrition and severe dental problems. Additionally, according to one health care organization, it can "contribute to increased transmission of infectious diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV/AIDS, and can infuse whole communities with new waves of crime, unemployment, child neglect or abuse, and other social ills."This "HURRICANE TINA" New York City campaign (left) from about seven months ago was visually powerful and eye-catching -- brilliantly drawing upon the analogy of Hurricane Katrina and the kind of devastation Tina, like Katrina, can cause. Posters, usually at bus-stops and subway entrances (mainly in gay areas of the city) packed the profound warning "Like a hurricane, crystal meth affects communities -- not just individuals," and asks the question, "How are we taking care of each other?"
Now, while I have always hated those whiny preachy "just say no to drugs" type messages and always swore I would never be one of "those people" telling others what to do when it comes to recreational drug use, in the case of meth I must take exception since I have seen firsthand the devastating damage it can do. It's painful to watch someone you know get slowly drawn into Tina's grip and helplessly watch as their very souls are ripped from them until they are not the same people anymore. Plus, I sympathize with and can fully understand how easy it is to get drawn to this seductive drug that appears to be so great to first time users. And there are many. According to one recent national survey, approximately 10 million people in the United States have tried methamphetamine at least once -- and that is a modest estimation. But for those who are caught up in Tina's web there is hope. Recovery is possible, although doctors say that the process can take 2 to 5 years to fully get over the addiction. Of course, individuals themselves have to first want to start the recovery process but there are numerous health organizations (many free) out there offering help.
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