Archive for August 6th, 2005

Speed Reading

5

LOWELL — Responding to a tip from neighbors, police
seized a methamphetamine lab in an apartment of a multifamily house at
800 Broadway St. yesterday morning, evacuating nearby homes and removing
three pipe bombs found inside.

Residents of the house, as well as neighboring houses on each side, were
told to leave the vicinity while officers with the federal Drug Enforcement
Agency’s hazardous- materials division secured the building. Police cordoned
off a two-block area from Wilder Street to Walker Street as a precaution.

O’Neill was found passed out inside, police said.

Meth lab story from the
Lowell Sun

The Dowbrigade was all over this story BEFORE the police
even caught wind of it. For several weeks now we have been noticing,
here and there on the streets around Boston and its suburbs, a disturbing
number of individuals walking alone while engaged in animated conversation
with invisible interlocutors.

We know what you are thinking, but we are fairly certain
that these particular individuals were not talking on cell-phones, unless
they have been miniaturized to the point of corporeal implantation. When
you see a 6 foot 4, 130 lb. bald guy naked except for stained gym shorts,
shouting at the empty air, waving his arms as if batting at invisible
mosquitoes, you don’t think Verizon.

So, drawing on our extensive studies of the drug underground,
we immediately recognized the effects of a powerful stimulant with psychoactive
properties, capable of causing audio and visual hallucinations. Among
the drugs fitting that bill, the two most likely suspects, due to their history of availability on the street, are
LSD and
methamphetamine.

Our sources in the street inform us that real LSD is
extremely rare these days, and that what is available is a pallid shadow
of the Original Orange Barrel, Mr. Natural Blotter or Microdot Pyramids
popular in Boston during acid’s heyday 30-some years ago. Most of those babies were
true 8-way hits – eight people could get off on one tab – and taking
a whole one was almost guaranteed to have you talking to people who weren’t
really there. It seemed unlikely that today’s pale imitations could be
responsible for the space cases we’ve been seeing lately. Besides, acidheads usually have either a faraway, wistful smile
or a locked grin on their faces and sparklers going off behind their
eyeballs, attributes entirely lacking in the batch of babblers we’ve been running
into lately.

Which left meth.  Methamphetamine, aka crystal
meth, ice, hillbilly cocaine, crank, etc. is one of the most powerful
stimulants known, and is easily cooked up on equipment available
at Home Depot from ingredients available at Walgren’s.  Meth is
not usually a hallucinogen in its own right, although high dosages can
cause heart arrhythmia, stroke, delusions and paranoia.

No, the main effects of meth are ordinary euphoria, an irresistible,
incredible energy, laser-like focus and seeming mental clarity. The need
and desire to eat
or sleep are distant memories. A compulsive drive to constant activity leads to
a gamut of behavior, from talking to fidgeting to walking around to talking
to drawing to talking to cleaning and always back to the talking, ceaseless
streams of verbiage, hopeless run on sentences and convoluted logic.

What causes the eventual hallucinations., mania and
paranoia is the prolonged lack of sleep or sustanance, often lasting
3 or 4 days
(or longer, depending on the starting state of the subject) during what
the speed freak refers to as "runs". One is "on a run" until one "crashes".
Repeatedly going 100 hours without eating or sleeping is not good for
the human metabolism, which is why you don’t see a lot of old speed freaks around.

But in the short run, after about half of that 100 hour max, say after
48 hours, two days without sleep, the mind begins to manufacture stimuli
out of some perverse last-ditch attempt to convince you to quit it already
and go to sleep. Subjects report hearing voices, or music in a silent
room, and in extreme cases hallucinate people who seem so real they have
to ask them if they are or aren’t actual people. Not that this questions
settles much except that the askers are clearly off their nuts.

Prolonged amphetamine use, combined with extended periods
without sleep, can mimic the symptoms of a slew of psychiatric disorders,
from alienation, compulive-obsessive disorder, bipolar disorder, neuroses,
right up through paranoid schizophrenia, meglomania and full-blown psychosis.

For
the most part these are harmless dementia, and the speed freaks go about
their
business
in
quaint
and
unobtrusive
obsessions;
painting the ceiling of their bedroom in an exact replica of the Sistine
Chapel, say, or assembling a collection of dust bunnies which resemble
characters from situation comedies.  However, things can get out
of hand, for the speed freak as well as for others, when paranoid schizophrenia
rears its ugly head, or when guns and liquor enter into the equation. Or pipe bombs, for that matter.

For these and other reasons, the Dowbrigade has learned
to steer clear of amphetamine abusers, and the sight of so many individuals
exhibiting clear signs of meth use lately has been slightly unnerving. So far, they
seem placid and amusingly eccentric, but the summer is young, and we
don’t go out a lot at night anymore, so we don’t know what the scene
is like at 3 or 4 am. This is their time to shine.  They own the
blank empty hours, when normal folk are tucked into pedestrian dreams,
and their speeded up quirks and fixations can really get out and stretch
their legs.

We wonder if there are any speed freak blogs.  We
will keep our eyes open for a blog with one 20,000-word posting a day
for three or four days in a row, then nothing for a week.