Two hits of ice, two years of hell for isle teenager
RECENTLY I caught up with an old friend whom I hadn't spoken with in a few years. When I asked him what he had been up to, he told me one of the most disturbing stories I have ever heard.
It all began in his sophomore year. He already had tried numerous other drugs -- marijuana, Ecstasy, alcohol, tobacco, cocaine. So when he was first offered "ice" (crystal methamphetamine), he figured he would be able to control it like he had the rest. This was where he was terribly mistaken. By the second time he smoked ice, he was addicted.
"People always ask me why it was so difficult to quit," he said. "All I could tell them was that if they tried smoking ice twice, they would understand."
"I'm not going to lie to you -- it's one of the best feelings in the world," he said. "When you use ice, it releases all of the dopamine in your brain at one time," which causes an intense feeling of euphoria.
My friend said the drug's effects usually lasted three days, during which time he wouldn't eat or sleep. But the euphoria lasted only a few hours; the rest of the time was considerably unpleasant. He remembered being awake at 4 a.m., hearing voices in his head and imagining horrifying images. One night he saw someone in his room trying to steal his TV. When he yelled at the person, he ran away, but my friend stood in his room with a knife for two hours waiting for the person to come back.
AT THE time, he thought the thief was real, but now he realizes he was hallucinating. At the peak of his addiction he would frequently experience terrifying hallucinations, and he felt that the drug was driving him insane. So why did he keep using it?
"Because you forget about it (the bad experiences) by the next time you smoke," he said.
Once, he was smoking ice with a teenage girl who had dropped out of high school. She held her baby on her lap as she smoked; as she exhaled, the smoke drifted toward the baby, who inhaled it.
"The baby's eyes widened and he started to twitch. He had a dazed look on his face, and I could tell that he was high on it," my friend said. "The devil made ice himself -- you know how I know? Because a mother would sell her own child so she could buy more ice."
SOME ICE users steal and rob to get money to buy ice. My friend ended up dealing the drug. "You would never believe the kind of people who picked up from me. Fathers, daughters, mothers, sons ... you would never believe how many people smoke ice."
"I let the need for money overrule my morals," he said. "I knew that by selling ice to freshman, it was almost inevitable that they would become addicted and throw away their lives. The other people I had trouble selling to were parents of kids at my school. I recognized that selling to parents could lead to serious family problems ... but at the end of the day I didn't really think about it anymore because I had some money to buy more ice."
His friends kept trying to get him to quit the drug, but eventually gave up. It was his parents, who had been unaware of his drug habit, who finally figured it out and stepped in.
"I was mowing the lawn at four in the morning and my dad knew something was up. My parents ended up sending me to rehab, and here I am now, totally clean and a different person."
BUT ICE has had lingering effects on my friend. When he was on ice he would grind his teeth. Now he is left with ground-down molars that making chewing painful. His heart rate has increased and his brain most likely has holes in it and other damage.
My friend is going to try to speak to middle school kids about his experiences in the hope that it will keep them from making the same mistake. He is afraid that ice is going to take over Hawaii and wants to do everything he can to help make sure that it doesn't happen. His effort begins with this article, which he hopes will discourage anyone from ever even trying the most dangerous drug in the world.
Jesse Yonover is a junior at Mid-Pacific Institute.