America’s newest commodity craze.
With the seemingly sudden and somewhat unexpected mainstream popularity of AMC’s Breaking Bad, it isn’t surprising that methamphetamine use has come out of the shadows and made its horrifying effects known to even the most ignorant and unsuspecting of suburban soccer moms. And it should scare the hell out of them.
Methamphetamine,”ice” or “crystal” has been around for decades in some form or another, but the epidemic we are now seeing has spiked just within the last 15 years or so.
Back in the ’90s, meth was almost exclusively associated with white, lower-class males, living in rural areas of the west and mid-western United States. If you have ever seen the movie Spun, you already have an idea of the image I am trying to portray to you: White trash, trailer parks, TV dinners, seedy motels and toothless disease-ridden prostitutes — both male and female.
It is now a national epidemic, and that’s not just some B.S. government “War on Drugs” rhetoric. It is fact. I have seen many independently produced documentaries, read many articles and have seen it first hand — In the flesh. It can sometimes be scarier than death.
Although crystal isn’t as prevalent here in NYC as it is elsewhere, I still know quite a few people who have succumbed to this demon. Particularly in the gay-male community, where it is known and used for the enhancement of sexual pleasure while also freeing oneself of inhibitions. This ends up leading to unprotected sex and, inevitably, the spread of STDs. Most notably, of course, is HIV.
The meth market is just as — if not more — volatile (and profitable) than any other commodity bought and sold in the United States. Production cost is relatively low, demand is high, and because there are no government regulations the manufacturers and dealers themselves determine the supply. Therefore, the price can change dramatically based on geographic location, availability, quality, etc.
Production costs have gotten more expensive in recent years due to restrictions on the sales of certain key ingredients that were readily available and abundant at any local drug store, supermarket or truck stop. But this has not curbed the sale, use or production in any way whatsoever. None that I can see at least.
Drug dealers and manufacturers — like any other business — adapt to change in order to keep their product on the market for the buying public to consume and essentially promote. Lowering quality while increasing availability for a cheaper price (think fast food) or providing a higher quality product while sacrificing the affordability and availability (think Apple).
Whether it is off of the $.99 menu at McDonalds, at your local Apple store or off a street corner in Peoria, Illinois, it doesn’t matter. As long as there is a want or need, there will always be someone there to fulfill that want or need. To fill that void. The thing we feel we are incomplete without.
People just can’t get enough of this meth stuff. They will beg, borrow and steal for it. They will assault, scam and kill for it. They will prostitute themselves, their wives/girlfriends and (the most vile) even their children for it. (I have read many instances of this, but I will not go into further detail as it isn’t relevant anymore being that my point has already been made.)
Obviously, I am not comparing the risks of fast food or iPad/iPhone hysteria to that of meth addiction in any way. I’m just using them as an example from a business point of view.
According to Frontline, in a report published in 2010, meth is oftentimes worth 10 times more per ounce than gold:
“One hit of meth is about a quarter of a gram and will cost a user about $25. However, the price of meth is volatile and can get as high as $80 per hit. As with most drugs, the price depends on the drug’s purity, the amount and where it is sold. An example: in 2002 the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) reported that a gram of pure meth was as high as $330 in Chicago but only $60 in Seattle. Although the price of meth, when adjusted for inflation, has declined since the early 1980s, it remains relatively high; today, an ounce of meth costs nearly 10 times as much as an ounce of gold.”
So tell your stock broker to forget the pork bellies, oranges, silver and gold. Tell him you wanna cash out and that you have decided to become an “independent” investor. *Wink, Wink.
That was a joke. Don’t take financial advice from me. I may give better advice than Jim Cramer, but I am still horrible with money.
But in all seriousness, this is a devastating drug. It is now an epidemic. It does not discriminate and it is showing no signs of letting up. If you, or anyone you know, needs help please click on one of the following links or seek help elsewhere. But seek it. There is a way out. I have seen people in the worst shape you can imagine come back from the brink to go on and live a (somewhat) normal life.