Cultural Causes of Methamphetamine Use

Meth has come a long way as far as popularity is concerned. It wasn’t always as commonly used as it is now. Now it’s turned into somewhat of a drug epidemic. In retrospect, it has evolved like many hard street drugs have, specifically stimulants. It hadn’t taken long before it soared in popularity, leading tons of users into terrible addictions. Once upon a time meth was seen as just a sad and gritty drug for the poor man, a version of cocaine only meant for degenerates or homeless people. It had this stigma attached to it that made it seem dirty, hardcore and somewhat terrifying at the same time. Over time, however, it’s become increasingly acceptable and less frowned down upon which isn’t a good thing.

When meth was first discovered it was used as a medical means to aid with weight loss when dealing with obese people. This was only one of its medical uses at the time. However, now when approached as the street drug that it is, many women or overweight people will look at it as an easy road out to losing weight. It’s a very unfortunate thing that the drug attracts people for this reason when taking into consideration that it is probably one of the most unhealthy ways to lose weight. Ironically, when one stops using meth they will usually put back on all the weight they had lost during their bout of meth use and then sometimes they will put on even more than they originally had (as their body is in worse shape after that).

Aside from that, it puts a dent on the user’s appearance in more ways than one. Even if it does cause the user to lose a lot of weight, they will normally look horrible which seems to defeat the purpose anyway. It reduces the elasticity of the skin by a long shot, causing the person to appear a lot older than they actually are and making it look like they have saggy, loose skin. It will also give what is called “meth mouth”, which is tooth decay, and might cause hair loss as well. This isn’t a pretty picture in any way and heavy meth users are notorious for looking haggard and horrible. This is partially because the drug is synthetic and made of harmful chemicals. However, weight loss still remains one of the cultural reasons why people use meth and is a very unfortunate and equally ignorant reason. Culture promotes it, much as it promotes drugs like cocaine and heroin, as an easy way to lose weight. This is the significant aspect of the drug which attracts mostly women and that’s compounded by the fact that the fashion industry continues to promote an unrealistic ideal weight for women. The popularity of this is unhealthy bone thin look is where the term “heroin chic” came into existence and it looks like “meth chic” has been following in its place.

Pop Culture and When Meth Took On a Whole New Meaning

The AMC show Breaking Bad started airing in 2008, what would end up becoming the majorly popular television series that incorporates meth in its unique plot. There’s been quite some controversy on whether or not Breaking Bad had scared people away from using meth or in fact glamorized the idea. The opinions on this are endless and while it would seem like a fictitious story about a mere pedestrian chemistry teacher having to sell meth to make ends meet might seem like a ridiculous catalyst in holding that much responsibility, there is definitely a consensus out there that the show was making the drug seem a little less gritty, a little less dangerous than it is in reality. The writer of the show claims that meth was the drug he chose for the show simply because of how grotesque a drug it is in contrast for how safe a guy the protagonist started out to be.

For a fictitious show with inordinate praise it would seem like the drug itself shouldn’t be taken as seriously as it being taken in regards to pointing a finger at that level of responsibility (over which the drug’s use would be taken into consideration). On the one hand many critics have made pointed criticisms, in essence accusing the show of not portraying the full blown and harsh truth of what meth is capable of doing. On the other hand some critics have claimed that the Breaking Bad series acts as a warning to high school kids and even potential meth users everywhere, a warning that more or less says to stay away from meth altogether. It remains a matter of opinion but one thing is for sure: the show had meth on the minds of millions of viewers, whether that’s a good or bad thing is really going to remain a mystery. There isn’t any evidence in correlation between meth use and the airing of Breaking Bad necessarily.

What Attracts People To Meth?

It must be a complex combination of many things that would cause so many people to be attracted to meth or even decide to try meth out to begin with. It’s a notoriously addictive drug, much like heroin but it’s known to put a dent on a user’s health in a notorious way as well. The popularity of the drug is on the rise. Like any drug, this must have a lot do with word of mouth and convenience. Convenience seems to be a big factor when people recognize that they can make this drug in their own kitchen. There are some other factors to look at though.

The reputation of what the high from meth is like has escalated. It is reported to be a very euphoric high that makes the user feel somewhat invincible, smarter, sharper, confident and have increased energy/focus. These things are attractive concerning a high, however there’s no telling how each person is going to react to the drug individually, as everybody is different. A lot of times people just end up abusing meth by a long shot anyway, and they are thrown into hyperactive states that may lead them to act violently and aggressively. Abusing meth can cause the user to also get delusions and hallucinations, sometimes it can actually kill the user. The danger of the drug amongst these rug scenes is highly underestimated. More often than not the high is simply not worth it, the drug is abused entirely, and the user ends up in a dangerous situation. Due to the fact that meth releases a lot of dopamine, the user will be very depressed during the “crash” or when they are no longer using. This might cause them to have no motivation in the real world and they might be a shadow of their former selves. The bottom line is that pop culture or word of mouth in society might make it appear as though the high is the attractive aspect to the drug, but it really is able to cause one to be driven into a psychotic state that they might not be able to get out of for hours. It isn’t a pretty picture and though these various cultural causes of meth use might make the drug seem harmless it remains a very dangerous drug that takes a toll on physical health as well as mental health.

By Robert O. Newman II, ICDAC, ICPS, CIP