“Suddenly you are in a room with 10,000 doors. And behind a bunch of the doors is some cool suff. You are gonna wanna try and run as fast as possible and stay awake as long as possible to look in all the doors.”
– from the 2018 Netflix documentary, “Take Your Pills.”
Hey, I finally quit smoking! Actually, it was pretty easy once I got off of the speed I’ve been hooked on for the past year. Well, “Vyvance.” I mean, a drug that I was prescribed after I got bored and decided to see if they’d give it to me. They did! (Crazy, right?!) Yes, true believer, that’s what I’ve been up to for the past year – proving to myself that I definitely didn’t have ADHD, and that speed, while certainly fun and interesting, also seems to be quite addictive, and it really runs your body-machine rough, like a redneck on, well, speed, driving a jalopy in the Arundel demolition derby.
This was not a good thing, this ‘free speed once a month.’ If I’d been in any way monitored, if my pills were ever counted, if I had to go in and see my provider once a month – it either would have worked, or I’d have just d/c’d it not long after the experiment began. But no one was watching. After abusing it for a year, suffering debilitating crashes, acting like an utter bitch and dodging more that one heart attack, I finally decided to crash one more time and then quit. Eventually, I knew, I’d have a heart attack or a stroke; I have a box in my closet with letters to my loved ones to be opened upon the event of my passing. I knew that it would happen, I just wasn’t sure when.
This was bad, but, legal. I mean, in Freeport for example, the town is still all perplexed about the weed issue, and they’ve put moratoriums on this and that. Well, I can’t walk down main street smoking a joint, but I can walk down main street mad-jacked up on speed without anyone troubling me. All day long. Even with a pocket full of pills as long as I have a bottle with my name on it.
So my getting off and away from amphetamines totally me, I swear, I mean, they weren’t monitoring me at all – no pill counts, medical tests, counseling, hell no. In fact, I never even discussed my decision to quit with my provider, I just never refilled the script after july.
But, why would you talk to your drug dealer about contemplating a quit? They’ll either talk you out of it, or sell you something else. It’s business, brother-man!
Geez Louise, it’s pretty easy to get really addictive schedule two drugs prescribed to you in Maine. Well, it was easy enough for me to get an un-monitored monthly supply of speed, I should say, but isn’t that insane? What got the German’s into Poland so fast in 1941, is the same thing that little Johnny gets to do better at school today. It’s everywhere, just like the ADHD that it purports to treat.
Get this –
Between 2003 and 2014 there was a 42% increase in diagnosed cases of ADHD in American children. There was a 60% increase in the diagnosis of poor kids between 2003 and 2007. as compared to a 10% increase in the same diagnosis of children of the middle class. More than 20% of all high school boys have been diagnosed with it an one time or another, and 13.2% of all boys ages 4 – 17. (girls get diagnosed with the affliction less frequently, coming in nationally at 5.6 percent.) The diagnosis is thrown about at different speeds depending on the state, ranging from more than 9% in states like Louisiana and Arkansas, and less than 3% in spots like Colorado and California. Maine falls somewhere in between, with 5 to 7 % of our children carrying the diagnosis as well as a pocket full of pills. Of course, the United States has more people with the diagnosis than other countries, but only at the moment. American pharmaceutical companies tend to export diagnosis that they already have a profitable cure. Because, let’s face it – it’s all about selling speed.
30 years ago, the rate of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was estimated at between 3% and 5%.
Spending on ADHD medications rose 14.2% in 2012, the greatest increase seen among any traditional drug category. Although children remain the primary users of ADHD medications, the number of adults using ADHD drugs also increased dramatically, from rising 18.9% in 2008 to a 53.4% jump in 2012. And, approximately two-thirds of adults were prescribed ADHD medications by a PCP (primary-care physician), rather than a specialist.
Instead of getting too complicated as far as the “why?” goes, I’ll just say that, if you have the blues or anxiety or the lazies or phobias, whatever, if I give you speed, you’ll feel better.
It made me feel better, for a second, before it got a bit crazy.
That’s right, dear reader, I, a fellow with five convictions for drunk driving, residuals from a traumatic brain injury and all sorts of other nonsense, was able to get diagnosed with ADHD (I think it might have been a 90 second discussion) and therefore a big pile of speed every month. For free!
I could have died.
Vyvanse may be habit-forming, and this medicine is a drug of abuse. Tell your doctor if you have had problems with drug or alcohol abuse.
Stimulants have caused stroke, heart attack, and sudden death in people with high blood pressure, heart disease, or a heart defect.
Vyvanse has a black-box warning because central nervous system stimulants have the potential for abuse and dependence.
Your doctors should assess your potential for abuse before prescribing Vyvanse and monitor you for abuse while you are taking it.
I’m still here.
I know – a bunch of us live way past 27, right?
During this past year (following my diagnosis and treatment for ADHD back in July of last year) my paranoia, my hyper-vigilance, and all other manner of bloody psy-badness was all over the place, all over the inner-space. I really thought that it was the worsening of the ol’ P.T.S.D., but, in all likely hood (between me and you, loyal viewer) it was a consequence of your humble narrator being all hopped up on what grampa might have called “pep pills,” all year long. Pep pills, diet pills, mother’s-little-helper, blitzkrieg-nightcap – you know, brother-man, speed. Amphetamine.
It wasn’t crystal meth (although just a molecule or two away.) Hell, I wouldn’t know where to get crystal meth, although, I honestly haven’t asked around, but that shit’s illegal, the quality unchecked by the FDA, and even Kosmo lost a few teeth punking around with that shit a few months back.
No, I’m reformed, you know? Doing things the right way. Now, I get my drugs from a white-coat, a prescribing physician. Insurance covers it, and I pick it up down the street. All legit.
The drug that I was put on is called Vyvance. Legally prescribed, legally obtained. Then, monitored and well, abused monthly.
It was like picking up a big pile of crack once a month from the local CVS down the street.
Holy. I swear – I don’t get into these situations just to have something fucked up to write about. I grew up a True Believer in the American Dream, and in a pretty privileged background. If it hadn’t been for the Gene, then instead of reading these scribbles, you’d be watching ads on TV for my law-firm, or my Supreme Court nomination. Back when I was a citizen, years ago, I always wanted to be a fiction writer. Instead, I seem to be constantly writing articles for a history book that hasn’t been put together yet, one about life at the turn of the century. I mean, I have a tendency to initially think that I’m the only one confronting this or that (do you?), but, have you watched that Netflix documentary, “Take Your Pills?” (Netflix, 2018)
Now, perhaps you’re saying, “But wait, how could this be? How could an alcoholic with.. how many OUIs?” (Five.) “A traumatic brain injury and quite the rap sheet as well as a record of drug and alcohol treatment, how could HE get prescribed speed? How did he manipulate a doctor into prescribing him an extremely addictive schedule two drug?”
I was as surprised then as you are now. I mean, I never expected to get it, I was just chemically bored, looking for a new, legal chemical transformation, and thought I’d ask. I let her know that I’d been previously diagnosed with it (back in the 90s for two seconds, after “Driven to Distraction” came out, and while I was still drinking) and blah, blah, blah. I recall her saying without question or discussion that it sounded like a fine idea, and that she should have thought of it herself, with speed being such a good thing for peeps with brain injuries. Without checking my backstory or asking me, well, anything, she wrote me a script for 30mg Vyvance, this a “starter” dose. She informed me that the dosage may have to be increased, and to phone her in a week.
Off I went!
I killed the first thirty day script in a week, and it was fun. I was, of course, out of my starter dose, but, I gave my provider a ring letting her know that, although I’d noticed a difference with the Vyvance, it had been slight. So, of course, she upped my dosage to 60mg, and despite the fact that it was two scripts of the same drug in one month, the fact that it was a different dosage allowed insurance to cover it. Come on – that’s like a Narcotics Anonymous parking lot discussion, day one.
After that script, which was in spring of 2017, I must’ve sensed danger. I told a couple of peeps close to me that I’d been punking around with speed, and that’s why I’d been such an asshole recently. I called my provider, and without going into detail exactly as to why, I left a message telling her that I’d decided the Vyvance wasn’t for me and to please discontinue it, and thank you.
Once off of the V, I ended up doing two major Bollard articles, one month after another and then my daughter got married. Then I must’ve gotten bored.
I grew up at a time when it was believed that if one was a physician, if you’d earned that distinction, then you were at the very least one of society’s most virtuous, and competent members. I really never expected to get the drug, and when I did I was easily able to rationalize that, well, according to the rules, she knows what she’s doing. Can’t fool a professional, right? And certainly not in this town, in these times. We each had our roles to play – SHE was the doctor, the professional, not me. In fact, my role was that of documented alcoholic and addict; drug seeking behavior would not be out of line with that role, if one were to improv. She knew my history, including notes concerning it that I probably hadn’t seen myself. If I asked her for cocaine and she gives it to me, then it has to be okay, and legally, if she gives it to me, it’s DEFINATELY okay, right? This isn’t back alley shit. Conversely, as a doctor, if it were bad, or potentially bad or harmful, she wouldn’t be giving it to a patient, correct? Even if I begged for it.
So, I was bored and looking to modify my reality as I’d been taught, by chemicals prescribed by knowledgeable, licensed professionals. White coats, dig? All legit.
I rolled the dice and plugged into the Matrix.
And the 60mg pills were blue.
It isn’t just me, either, is it?
Look to your left, and then to your right, and try to guess which one of you is on speed. Are YOU on medicine for ADHD dear reader? Well, my friend, I hope that they told you about the addiction piece. Yes, brother-man. Surprise! You aren’t just a patient, you’re also an addict! Congratulations.
It’s not just for back alleys anymore! Or rather, it’s back from the back alleys, again.
“She stays up nights making all the rounds, they say she lost about 69 pounds
Now Mr. Murphy claims she’s getting awful thin and all she says is, ‘Give me some skin!’.”
– Harry “the Hipster” Gibson, “Who Put the Benzedrine in Mrs. Murphy’s Ovaltine?” (1947)
Amphetamines were first synthesized in 1887 followed by methamphetamine in 1893. These turned out to be really fun (equals profitable) drugs, it just wasn’t until 1932 that they could come up with a diagnosis for them the apply to. That year Benzedrine inhalers (allegedly for relief from nasal congestion) came out and were instantly popular – these were cheap and available over the counter by any 13 year old in any drugstore. In 1935 the drug company expanded prescription of the drug for the chronic; now it treated sleep disorders as well. Just remember – this is a business, not a religion, and the drug was marketed for anything it could be profit from, even opiate addiction. Time magazine noted back in 1937 how the inhaler strips were being removed and chewed by college students to enhance performance. The British press began publishing stories of the actual dangers of the drug, and in 1939 amphetamines were placed on a list of toxic substances in the United Kingdom.
Their attitude changed during World War II with soldiers on both sides given large amounts of amphetamines as a way of fighting fatigue and boosting morale (and, I mean, if you’re in in to win, right? And your enemy has a chemical advantage, what do you do?) The British issued around 72 million tablets to the armed forces, after discovering that Kamikaze pilots and German panzer troops were using the drug successfully in a blood and guts setting. Hitler’s own medical records show that he received up to eight injections a day of methamphetamine. An artist on speed.
The demand for amphetamines continued to be high in the 1950s and early 1960s – long-haul truck drivers, soldiers who needed to stay awake, high school and college students cramming for tests while Western pop musicians often structured their lives and music around the drug. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimated that there were well over 200 million amphetamine pills in circulation by 1962 in the United States alone.
Of course, athletes have historically gone to amphetamines for more of an edge. Even before my own speed experiment this year I remember thinking that if I were to climb a mountain, it would only make sense to have a good supply of speed. Amphetamine use has historically been especially common among Major League baseball players, known by the slang term “greenies”. I was surprised to find that it wasn’t until 2006 that the MLB finally banned the use of amphetamine, enforced through periodic, loop-hole riddled drug-testing. Of course, the MLB consequences for amphetamine use are dramatically less severe than for anabolic steroid use, but, that first offense will still get you a warning, a severe frown and further testing.
During the fifties and sixties about half of the quantity of amphetamines produced were used outside of the medically prescribed purposes stated by the law. Still, of the nineteen companies that were cranking out speed back then, nine of them didn’t even have to show their registry of buyers to the FDA. You know, it was probably those same nine companies which supplied much of the illegal speed available at the time. Right?
So, only after decades of reported abuse, finally, in 1965 the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) banned the cheap Benzedrine inhalers, and limited amphetamine to prescription use. Think that non-medical use remained common? Of course it did. Even after the Controlled Substances Act of 1971 made amphetamine a Schedule II controlled substance (alongside winners like methadone, all good opiates, and all of the ADHD medicine currently in your medicine cabinet.)
The use of amphetamines and drugs like amphetamine showed a sharp decrease in the 1980s, but that was probably due to the increasing use of cocaine, which was introduced in the mid-1970s and proved to be even more fun than speed. Still, a survey done in 1987 showed that a large number of high school seniors (12!%) had used amphetamines during the previous year.
Methamphetamine isn’t made exclusively in trailers up in the county. Meth is a prescribed, pharma-created drug, it’s just.. it’s not so hip right now due to the aforementioned home-cookers.
Of course these days, up to a quarter of college students use Adderall to help them focus on their studies instead of its intended purpose of helping people with ADHD. This use will normally continue even after school, because, despite the name and the dressing, Adderal, Dexys, Focalin – it’s all amphetamine, speed. And speed works well. As of 2015 amphetamines, especially Adderall, were increasingly being used by young white-collar workers who work long hours at demanding work. Many felt drug use was necessary to perform adequately, to get that edge. Like Lance Armstrong claimed, if your competition is on speed, what are you gonna do?
Yeah, your on speed, brother man. Just like Charlie Parker, Adolf Hitler, Judy Garland and Lenny Bruce.
“Eating on an Adderall, wash it down with alcohol. Writing holy mackerel, actual all factual.”
– Danny Brown, “Adderal Admiral.”
Alcoholics get diagnosed with lots of things, before and after they dry up (if they do.) I certainly gathered a bunch of labels and explanations and, unfortunately, many of them I even came to believe. Here in America, if there’s an illness, there’s a pill for it, or a marketable, profitable solution, I should say. Before I go any further, I know that many of you who are prescribed medications tend to end up in the hospital if you fail to take them. That’s never been the case with me. I end up in the hospital because of chemicals taken, not the opposite.
Keep this in mind as you go on.
Remember in the 1990s, when the book “Driven to Distraction” came out, giving adults who were enjoying their children’s ADHD medication a reason to get their own script? Well, my parents got a copy and had an “a-ha” moment regarding their son’s shortcomings. After my second OUI I’d blown off my final month of probation to head to Memphis, and upon my return a few months later I was, of course, arrested. Upon my release, my mother and I went to see Dr. Charles Clemetson in Lewiston, this English fellow who’d earlier prescribed me the Zoloft which had sent me into that wonderful state of hypo-mania. I remember, at the time of my release from Kennebec County, him saying that we had to do something drastic, or I might get into further trouble down the line. He blamed my troubles not on booze, but on ADHD. When Mom put me on that bus for Memphis, I had a bottle full of Dexedrine for the ride back.
At the time, I took prescribed meds as prescribed; I was a citizen back then, remember? In fact, I think that I was still a CRMA at the time. I’d never really trusted pills, which I felt couldn’t be measured out safely, like booze (!). If you took a pill, you were on the bus until you reached Boston; no getting off. No. As a citizen, pills were for treating sickness, not having fun. Booze was for fun. I really don’t remember much about the effects of the one bottle of dexys that I took as prescribed – this was fall of 1999 – and I never bothered to try and get more from my doctor down south. After the hypo-mania of the Zoloft had flat-lined in 1996, none of the SSRIs seemed to do anything, although I continued to take whatever capsules were popular with the prescribers at the time. I truly felt that, as far as anxiety, depression, sleeplessness or boredom went, booze was the only way to go, and I returned to it again and again. That was in 1999. By the time I returned to Maine in 2001, I’d switched from beer to the easier to transport/conceal vodka, and five months later, in February of 2002, I got mugged while leaving a party, and got that traumatic brain injury.
Instead of giving me Naltrexone for my alcoholism, I was court ordered to attend a religious group. It didn’t seem to take. This one fellow told me that I must not be spiritual enough.
A few years later in 2006, I went to Windham Prison for the first time, for drinking on while on probation for the OUIs, and I was kept on so much medication that I slept most of my bid away. When I returned to Windham in 2009 to wrap everything up, I recall thinking, “Ok, I’ve got eighteen months to kill. That’s plenty of time to find the perfect medication through trial and error. The Pill.”
Well, Dr. Bevin, a really good physician who would be fired not long after following an in-house romance with an inmate, prescribed me something to start off with, but I ended up never taking it. I was behind the wall at the time, in medium, and just never wanted to get up as early as you had to for med pass. By the time I went to see Dr. Bevin for my second and final time, I was feeling surprisingly well. True, I wasn’t on any medication, and didn’t do any thing that might have been illegally available (if for no other reason I never felt that there would be enough to do the job, you know, splitting a bottle of pruno with seven people, or sharing a ciggie or a joint with 12,) but, left with no pharmaceutically altered states, I’d become surprisingly healthy. I was, you could say, hitting all the marks – mind, body, spirit, society, that I never had to when getting my dopamine artificially, via medication. I was writing in the prison newsletter (“the doing times”) to avoid physical labor, blogging and collecting the writings of other convicts to be blogged on the outside (politicalprisoner.wordpress.com), wrote handbooks for Native American Spirituality, started a screen-play. And, of course, all of the bloody reading you end up doing behind bars. Physically I was working out six days a week in the gym, running five miles a day, practicing Hatha Yoga, and eating as well as I could in such a situation. Spiritually I was involved in Native American Spirituality, Catholic Services, prayer fellowship, meditation and on and on. And socially, I had a fellowship, well, in prison, I think its called a gang.
“Some of us,” Dr. Bevin offered, “feel too much.” Exactly, I thought, waiting for the offer of a pill that I didn’t really need. She didn’t offer me one. “I can give you something that might make it as though you didn’t feel things as much, but, it wouldn’t be just the bad things you felt less intensely, it would be the good as well.” And that was that; I didn’t take any medication that time during that stay. Windham Prison, from 09 to 11 was the first time that I had actually practiced a holistic lifestyle, and many times after my release would I find myself asking, while knowing the answer, how I was able to remain so Zen, even content, while behind bars, all the while unmediated.
“Hey, kids, plug into the faithless Maybe they’re blinded, But Bennie makes them ageless.”
– Elton John, “Bennie and the Jets”
This story has so many layers, or rather, so many predictable threads. Initially I wasn’t sure whether this piece should just focus on speed, or whether it was a more general story about wide-spread over-prescribing of everything. I remember a few years ago while doing the “Opiatopia” piece reading that despite the wide-spread, well-publicized opiate epidemic facing New England with the largest blood clot in Maine, physicians in the one-syllable state were still over-prescribing opiates. I searched for that old piece on-line, and found alot about measures which had been taken to curb the over-prescribing… of opiates. The only other piece on over-prescribing I could find was for benzodiazapines, and once I started reading it, I realized that it was from the U.K.
When I searched for amphetamine abuse, I was usually lead to sites which were actually promoting ADHD medication. The support sites are for people diagnosed with ADHD, or for the parents of children on speed.
Then, I started tossing out emails and messages to providers in Maine, and the response was minimal. These are the same people who would talk your ear off if you wanted the skinny on opiate abuse, but didn’t have a word to say about speed. I’d reached this one fellow on FB and got a “lol what not to do with Vyvance!” and a promise to message me later which didn’t happen.
So I started thinking, they could be on speed, Rage. Or, if 11% of our kids are on speed, chances are, especially if you’re a white-coat, you’re either peddling the stuff, or you know someone who’s kids doing well on it. Maybe yours.
But, let’s face it. If you’re in pharmaceuticals, the formerly successful opiate market is fished out, well, at least for the moment. What can you sell? Addiction, baby! If I owned a pharmaceutical company, I’d have a big banner in my research lab reading, “ADDICTION SELLS! FIND THE CURE AND MARKET THE DISEASE!”
Well, the legal opiate market is dead. Let’s start selling benzos and speed again.
Although Opiate abuse is the current soup of the day, as Dr. Publicker stated in “Opiatopia,” there were far more drunks than opiate addicts. I believe that he said the rate of alcoholism stayed pretty steady at 10% of the population; drunks just aren’t dying as quickly. But although the opiate epidemic is the big issue of the day, drugs like Ibogaine, a non-addictive drug legal for sucessfully treating opiate abuse in other countrys (such as Canada, Mexico, the UK, Scandinavia, etc.) isn’t legal in the US, where it’s listed as a Schedule 1 substance, alongside coke and acid.
I’ll bet you if the shit was addictive they’d rename it Ivadream, and market the hell out of it.
Just heard back Patience, this friend of mine up in Central. We met years ago in court promoted Intensive Outpatient Program and ergo in 12-step meetings. She was, like, legendarily BAD, and was still at it even after I’d stopped. Then, about a year ago, they put her on Naltrexone, and, suprise, she’s been sober ever since. I wanted to talk to her because, well, she’s been put on everything, and I knew that she’d been on speed before as well. I really just wanted to know if they were counting her pills.
Had they known, when they prescribed her the speed that she was a gnar-gnar no no addict? Of course! She was in treatment for heroin addiction, her doctor had her on suboxone, klonopin, Vyvance and Adderal. All at once! Pill count? Hell no! Consequences? Doctors were puzzled as to why she kept overdosing on presciption medicine, and then Patience had two heart attacks in one night. She woke up in Augusta general… (do they still call it that?) thank God she had people around her, unlike your humble narrator.
And they couldv’e give us both Naltrexone twenty years ago and stopped the train, but think for a moment how much profit we’ve generated. Doctors, cops, courts, pharma, psychiatrists, drug and alcohol counselors, therapists, pharmacists, half-way houses, on and on.
That’s alot of yen.
Peter once referred to Patience as one of the most destructive women he knew. Is it frustrating, or even weird couseling drug addicts who are trying to get off of illigal drugs while all doped out on legal ones?
Speak of the devil!
Peter Wohl, Zenmaster, Soberati and Paladin level 9 got back to me. He wrote:
“It’s so easy to get Rx happy meds, that may be the largest, but unseen epidemic in the state. Very few people are minding the store. Speed, benzodiazapines and of course medical marijuana, all the major food groups. Add a little suboxone and you can be in pharmaceutical nirvana. There are a bunch of docs who are also giving out suboxone without any testing, counts, etc.”
“Probably at least 9 out of 10 don’t do counts, especially primary care offices.“
But, here’s the other side.
I spoke with one of my homegrrls from Sherwood and she was diagnosed as a kid, claims it helped her greatly. Another professional who wrote me back (because she’s a professional, with all sorts of creds.) was Jen Orcutt. Jen, who’s a drug and alcohol counselor wrote:
“With my client load I have had over almost 9 years now I have yet to meet someone who says they are here because they were given meds for there ADD/ADHD. I actually tend to see the opposite, ones who say they were never diagnosed or they were never treated when they were kids and so they couldn’t focus in school and goofed off gave up.”
“I have just been intrigued by how many clients I have had over the years that almost say lack of treatment for their ADD/ADHD prob lead to them going down the wrong road. I have not had anyone who said they felt their ADHD medication started their addiction off. I find his actually very interesting. But then again I think most say due to them not addressing their mental health weather it be anxiety depression, that lead them to seek a way to self medicate.”
Again my truth is my own, and I’m not going to stop anyone out there from doing anything. I remember Vince McNeil, of the World Wrestling Entertainment defending steroids by pointing out that the Beatles had done their best work under the influence of drugs, which were therefore “performance enhancing.” Because of that, should we disregard their work? Adderall is apparently being used quite widely in America to gain that edge, you know? And, believe me, this isn’t one of those drugs that you have to wait six weeks for it to take effect. I have no problem with Lance Armstrong keeping his wins, and, honestly, if I had my own army, and i knew that you were jacking your army up on speed, I’d probably get the whole war machine diagnosed with ADHD. Hell, I’d keep the whole country medicated, you know. But, then, that’s why Bog didn’t make me a dictator.
Although, according to Dr. Publicker, despite our roughly 5% population, we do consume 80% of the medications. And those are the legal ones. It brings me back to this childish outlook, these innocence-grounded questions that come out of my 1970s upper-prole upbringing:
If this is the greatest country in the world, then why do so many of us have to be on medication in order to be comfortable here? Hell, brother-man, if Mr. Trump were one of us, they wouldn’t accuse him of being crazy, no. They’d assume he was on drugs. But I’m sure he has a script.
“Remember the simple rule- what pharmaceutical companies get richer on is good for us. What pharmaceutical companies don’t get richer on is bad for us. Now, repeat after me……”
– Peter Wohl, Soberati, therpaist, zen-master, clinician in the One Syllable.
What was it like for me, being on speed for the past year? Well, at first it was fun. I mean, speed is fun. I’m sure that no matter what you suffer from, anxiety, depression, social phobia, etc, if you do some speed, you’re gonna feel relief; maybe you’ll decide its the cure. No, dude. It’s just the speed. So, fun at first, and after that, just addiction.
I couldn’t snort the shit, like a benzo or a 1990s oxy – just clogged me up – and I didn’t shoot it (only because I haven’t been there yet) but, hell, I ate the shit, stayed up night after night after night, often writing and writing and writing pages, chapters, perhaps even a book or two of scribbles that I would inevitably destroy at the end of the trip. During the crash (after running out of speed, when your body tries going without) I would either dismiss all they pages as speed-driven crap, and less frequently I wouldn’t be able to decode the scrawl which would unwind after a few nights of sleepless scribbling. Of course, after the first twenty four, I stopped being able to see the lines on sheets of paper, but, hell, who can wait for lines?!
I made, still have, a running list of commercials on YouTube that didn’t give me the option of skipping after three seconds, vowing never to use their services or purchase their products. Never!
Following what began as two weeks but which ended up as four days of consuming a thirty day script would come the crash, a period of withdrawal painted with strokes of paranoia, depression, agoraphobia, and more, which would last a week, sometimes two. I’d have te ever widening space in between speed trips, moments of blurred sanity which would begin as even cloudier days of anxious justification.
While I’d be n it, it would have this socially paradoxical effect. The paranoia that was always there once I’d passed the first sunset, strong enough to keep me off of the phone, off of the bus, often creeping about silently like a tweaking crack head, as though any noise could alert this invisible enemy force to my presence, causing some sort of confrontation I could never quite imagine the specifics of, but always feared.
On the other hand, I didn’t really need to leave my island. I could focus on anything, no matter how pointless and it would become so interesting that I would become consumed with it. I remember Busby showing up in the fog, like Billy Zane visiting Zoolander in the wastes of New Jersey in the viddy “Zoolander 2.”
Psychologically, the ups and downs became intolerable and so I spent a lot of energy just convincing myself that they were getting better, at least better than last month. I never did speed with anyone, never shared it or sold it, but then, a good test of the addictive nature of a substance is how freely it’s shared with friends, right? You might tell yourself, my friend, that you don’t share your speed because of legal or ethical reasons, but really brother-man, you wouldn’t share your shit, irregardless. This ain’t weed, ja, comrade? For me, speed was one of those drugs done best in isolation. If I was around anyone for any extended period of time, it just wouldn’t work, and usually because of the nature of the focus that speed gave me. No matter how stupid the task I was so engrossed in was, it took on the nature of a mighty mission, and it was always a world of me and the target and nothing else. Humans were always getting in between me and the target of my focus, and whenever this happened I would react angrily and often nastily, hurtfully. Speed was one of those drugs that you really didn’t get a picture of its effect on you, or how fucked up you were until you found yourself in a position where you were pretending that you weren’t. It’s like being stone around your mom or your boss and suddenly your mind starts screaming, “Holy fuck! Am I stoned or what?!!”
The self-awareness of the previous “Stoned in A.A.” example, coupled with the paranoiac awareness of speed all combined with the long-ingrained teachings of the church of sobertology, lack of sleep and nutrition, as well as my own feelings about white-coats and pharmaceuticals became.. just bad, a badness which was only relieved when I returned to safe, insulated isolation.
‘ “But aren’t you shortening her life by giving her so much?”
“In one sense, yes,” Dr. Shaw admitted. “But in another we’re actually lengthening it.” The young man stared, uncomprehending. “Soma may make you lose a few years in time,” the doctor went on. “But think of the enormous, immeasurable durations it can give you out of time. Every soma-holiday is a bit of what our ancestors used to call eternity.” ‘
– Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
Last January, I’d just started off my New Years speed ride when I got a message that my old street partner, Mr. Nixon, had overdosed, had crossed over.
I don’t know what to write about that yet.
I know that.. I’ve been really close, either spatially or emotionally, to a bunch of good peeps who’ve crossed over much earlier than anyone had expected. I pulled True Dogg out of the shower in Kennebec County in 2009; he’d hung himself. I felt his cold flesh, I saw him die, but, I don’t know. That night when I heard that Nick had crossed over, for the first time, I became aware of my own mortality, acutely aware, with the focus of a handful of speed spills. Nick hadn’t meant to die, as my own heart pounded away in my chest, over-worked, over-tired, undernourished, pumping in a cloud of cigarette smoke, it occurred to me that this drug that I was abusing could stop my machine just as easily as down had stopped Nick’s.
I had to stop it. Had to. It just took a while.
My initial plan was to call my shrink and without any deep details to simply cancel it. Then I decided that it would be better if I saw her in person. But, damn, (the dilemma of the labeled) if I’m honest with her about abusing the V, I’ll get “red-flagged” as a junkie,and I’ll never get anything but Visteril and designer placebos for the worried-well. Never anything fun, or interesting. Evermore. Well, by the time everything had been considered and re-considered it was already time for a refill. Well…
Fuck it! One more time! Yee hee!!
This went on from January until July, when I filled my last script. It’s one of those power dynamics that I’ve always hated, the drug dealer/client relationship and the market of supply and demand. In the same manner, I’ve despised contacting my prescriber once a month to get more drugs to abuse. Twice the script wasn’t refilled on time, once it was delayed for an entire week! (It turned out that my prescriber had billed the wrong insurance, and continued to bill the wrong insurance until eventually, my local pharmacist caught on, and I filled my doctor in.)
Good thing that I hadn’t been taking the shit as prescribed, right? If I’d been taking one pill a day for a year and then my supply was interrupted for a week, I’d have been all tweaking and krunked right up! As I said when I began this article, you aren’t just a patient; you’re an addict.
In fact, I feel that there are two, maybe three (or four or five) things that really allowed me to get off of sped without a lot of hassle. One – I didn’t take it as prescribed. As horrid as it sounds (and don’t try this at home) if I’d taken a pill every day for a year and then tried to stop, as I wrote a moment ago, it would have been some grotty difficult horror show discovery channel shite, to say the least (is it trite to still write, “to say the least?”) Even the times when I didn’t get this primo addictive substance within a reasonable amount of time it would have caused me much more discomfort than it did. Of course, I wasn’t snorting it, or shooting it, and that might have changed the game (including the death factor) and I wasn’t using it as part of a crowd or a scene etc.
But, I also believe, (sorry folks, this in just MY truth) that if I’d been dealing with this situation in AA or NA, any of the Operating Thetan churches of Sobriety, with the powerless piece that I’d clung to as an excuse for so many years of my drinking, well, I reckon that it would have been a bit more difficult.
‘Lenina shook her head. “Was and will make me ill,” she quoted, “I take a gramme and only am.” ‘
– Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
I remember quite a few back when Peter Wohl mentioned that meth was making a comeback, way before I really knew what it was. Until I spoke with True Dogg and Daisy about it. They were from away; they knew about it. When I was doing research for this article, “amphetamines in Maine” always lead to “Methamphetamine in Maine” and how they were going to deal with this ghastly epidemic. As I wrote earlier, the last time I saw Kosmo, he’d lost some teeth due a recent meth experiment (maybe) but on the street, I found pharmaceutical speed alot more accessible, and usually under $5 a capsule. The show, “Breaking Bad?” Here in Maine, I’d just pay a bunch of peeps to go to their doctor, get diagnosed with ADHD, collect the pills and sell speed that-a-way.
Go for it kids. I don’t own the idea.
Somethings up with Benzos, as well. You know, benzodiazapines, klonopin, valium, xanibars? Again, the first time I’d heard the term “benzo” was via Peter Wohl, then at C&C Augusta, who at the same time told me that was quite a lot of cross-addiction between alcohol and benzos; apparently they both enjoy the same sort of nerve receptors. Well, as long as I had a script, right? My prescriber had me on Ativan / Lorazepam (a benzo “mood elevator”) for a while last year, but that was a pretty bad experiment too. I think that i ended up requesting that to be d/c’d as well, and when I tried to get more a few months later, she told me that the benzo prescribing process had become somewhat of a pain in the ass. So, instead I got welbutrin, and abilify, and veneflaxine and lots of trazadone and prazosin and a bunch of other stuff that didn’t work, and that never stopped coming. I swear – I have this huge bag of pills that I’m dumping off with FPV on Monday. Lemme take a picture for you.
“Tell her I’m not up to takin’ calls, Ask her for some Adderall “
– The Hold Steady: “Ask Her for Some Adderall”
Strangely enough, the other thing which had a big impact on my continued use was a documentary which I caught on Netflix which was actually put together to alert the viewer to the acceptance of, and the wide spread abuse of ADHD drugs, like the one I’d been prescribed. “Take Your Pills,” a 2018 Netflix film absolutely gave me the “wows.” Watch this documentary; after watching it, I’m pretty sure that either you and/or more than one person you know has been prescribed speed for Adult ADHD. The documentary is full of information that everyone should know, (and which, therefore, most will not want to know) but it convinced me that I should continue to give Vyvance a try. The problem (and remember, I’d been on speed for a while, and so was probably easily swayed to continue the abuse) for me was the participants who represented the pro/con sides of taking speed. On one side you had dour, serious professionals telling you how dangerous this drug was. On the other side, they give you young, attractive Waspy looking middle class Americans talking about how wonderful speed is. I came away from the documentary thinking that, if these people could make this drug work so well for them, then certainly I should be able to. If I can do it differently this time.
Which, of course, I never could.
I highly recommend that you, dear reader, viddy this documentary. I’m sure that it will probably get a bunch of you to go get speed (which, in my experience is pretty easy) if you aren’t already on it. But, honestly, once I press the send button, I’m done. I’m pretty Libertarian when it comes to your drug abuse; I’d vote Matt Coffey for Council if I was still in P-town. I guess, as long as I’ve warned you, right?
“It was perfectly harmless unless discontinued.”
– Kurt Vonnegut, Slap-Stick
When I first hit Freeport, I went through a six month period of absolute anxiety. This WAS P.T.S.D., a result, truly, of your humble narrator being in a safe, quiet place for the first time since.. 2008? The result of issues concerning alcohol abuse and jail and prison and suicides and deaths and betrayals and homelessness and more death and on and on that I’d never had the time to really grok on. Once I found that chaos-free time and that peaceful place, the mind-storms were horrific. That combined with separation from what had become my community, as well as withdrawal from the many drugs that guests tended to bring with them when they’d visit the Vatikan. You see, usually, when the adventure ends, the hero goes home, right? By the time my adventure was over, there was nothing to return to.
Anxiety and paranoia. It was miserable, and waking each morning with this stabbing terror as though I’d fallen asleep on watch and could be surrounded by the Forces of the Unforgiving. I’d initially switched from my primary care physician to a psych nurse in order to have easier access to a greater selection of meds with lack of over site afforded by private practice. I spoke with my psyche nurse about my insane anxiety, and started trying different pills and different pills. The good thing about being crazy, as previously stated, was that there was always a pill. Somewhere.
Anyway, I was about to ask my presciber to put me on Thorazine, an old school, 1950s heavy tranq used to treat schizophrenics. I just wanted this angst to stop. Then, one day in August of 16, I just stopped it. I decided to just knock it off. I understand that this sounds completely irrational, but, I had this feeling that if I continued to let this river carry me along in this particular direction, that I’d end up institutionalized. I had to stop it. It was all in my mind.
When I was younger, the phrase, “its all in your mind.” meant that whatever was plaguing you was a product of the way that you were handling it mentally, and therefore, you could correct the problem by changing your outlook on it. These days, “its all in your mind,” kinda means the same, except the solution is different. “It’s all in your mind,” is mental illness, baby. That requires a pill.
What if they run out?
“All the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects.”
– Aldous Huxley, Brave New World