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Avoid at All Costs
by Berkeley Bob
Citation:   Berkeley Bob. "Avoid at All Costs: An Experience with Methamphetamine (exp20698)". Nov 1, 2005.

  repeated   Methamphetamine


I was in college, the University of California at Berkeley. I lived in what was then the notorious counter-culture student-owned cooperative Barrington Hall on Dwight below Telegraph. Barrington Hall was famous for having every inch of every surface covered in graffitti and for being a haven for drugs. All drugs, any drugs.

When I first arrived there as a Freshman there had been a shakeup a year or two before and the kids who were involved with the most serious drugs (Heroin and Speed) had been purged. In hindsight it was pretty hypocritical - everybody did drugs all of the time, just not heroin or speed. Heroin was clearly something we were all smart enough not to do. Collectively we banned speed from the place, but in a college town in California in a living environment with 180 'heads' sharing a giant building as a cooperative it was bound to re-emerge, and re-emerge it did.

For me personally my first experience was somewhat amusing. Being from out of state, I was one of just a handful of the 180 residents who didn't go home for Spring Break. Another out-of-stater and I scored some speed and decided to do it. It was very funny - we sat and played Risk on his roommate's computer for something like 36 hours straight, all the time insisting that the speed wasn't doing anything to us.

Several months later I encountered my 'breakthrough' experience. I had a paper due in the morning for a hard-core writing class and had procrastinated and done NONE of it. On a whim I asked one of the degenerates who used to hang around the common area (downstairs) of our house if he could score some speed for me. $20 per quarter gram. I gave him $20, asked for a quarter and waited.

Hours later he showed up with the quarter. It was 2:00AM and the paper was due at 9:00AM.

My roommate was asleep on his top bunk and the room was totally dark except for the light from the small screen of my Macintosh SE. I started doing speed and was soon focused entirely on the screen and on the writing project while the dark room filled with trippy clouds of rainbow colored smoke (something I had never seen before or since).

Just before 9:00AM I printed a 22 page paper that had been ZERO pages less than 7 hours earlier. I turned it in to my advanced writing class and not only got an A++ but the teacher reprinted it and gave a copy to everyone else in the class as an example of good writing.

So on occasion I'd get a little speed to help me through a difficult school project. The problem is is that speed is also FUN and what started as a tool to help when school got tough slowly evolved into something I was doing for fun. Meanwhile a similar transition was happening with dozens of other people within the coop and where we were at one time a place for pot smoking and LSD we started turning into a haven for speed freaks.

I was, fortunately, able to keep it largely under control for myself, until I got my first batch of bad speed.

Speed is made with the grossest chemicals you could imagine and there are dozens of recipes and the 'cookers' make due with what they can get their hands on. Things like aluminum foil, melted linoleum, melted plastic and photographic developing room chemicals were typical ingredients for cheap and powerful speed. Depending on the ingredients used and the method of manufacture speed was usually transparent or white but it was also often yellow, pink or brown.

Some friends and I got a small batch of some brown speed which made us all 'snap.' We locked ourselves in one guy's 4th floor room and threw scores of beer bottles, plates and garbage out the window into the concrete alley below.

There was a group of people outside his door banging on it, demanding that we stop, trying to 'talk us down' and help us but we'd have none of it.

We decided that we had to escape. One of us had a brother working at a ski resort in Tahoe and another of us had a car. We'd lay low until the people outside our door went away then we'd take off in the car to Tahoe. After about 15 minutes without us throwing any glass out the window we slipped out and got in the car and headed towards Tahoe - but first, we had to stop at an ATM.

It was bitterly cold that night (bitterly cold for Berkeley, at least) and we live parked in front of an ATM while one of us withdrew some funds.

While we were live parked, engine running, lights on some asshole Berkeley meter-maid (male) pulled up in his little golf cart and gave us a ticket for parking in a yellow zone. I became ENRAGED (which is way out of my character) and started arguing with him. The argument escalated to me jumping on the side of his cart while he tried to escape and beating the shit out of him. This was, in the eyes of the law, a cop. So there I was, star of academia at one of the best schools in the world, twisted beyond belief beating the shit out of a cop. I finished the beating, he drove off and we hit the highway.

Interstate 80 is the road east from Berkeley to Sacramento then on to Tahoe. We were driving in the middle of the night and an eerie fog had settled in over the valley making visibility zero. The car we were in had no heat and its windshield wipers didn't work. We were flirting with death beyond a shadow of a doubt. At some point we realized that the speed was bad and one of us threw the rest of the bag out the window.

We were pulled over for speeding and amazingly pulled ourselves together for the conversation with the cop who let us off with a warning.

Back into the fog I lost my sense of equilibrium and balance and sitting in the car the world slowly turned 360 degrees before my eyes. I was fucked and I knew it.

As we approached Sacramento I told my friends that I needed to get out. I couldn't deal with going to the mountains. I had excuse myself from this crazed adventure.

They dropped me off at the Greyhound station in Sacramento and continued on to the mountains while I waited for the next bus to the Bay Area which included a stop in El Cerrito - two BART (subway) stops from my neighborhood.

The Sacramento bus station is apparently a place for gay male hustlers to ply their trade because I was propositioned several times by older, toothless Okie farmers looking for a good time. 'Are you a pretty boy? You know what I mean, son... A pretty boy?'

The bus came and took me to El Cerrito then I took the BART to Berkeley. It was morning now and I was coming down but still feeling sketchy and terrible and the normal horrible body load that speed gives you was magnified 10X by this poison we had taken.

The other house residents were pissed at the bottle throwing incident but they understood - we'd all been in similar states of mind before.

Somebody sympathetic to my plight gave me a painkiller and a valium and I forced myself to eat some breakfast and went to bed. It took me 3 or 4 days to recover physically from the experience.

Did I stop doing speed? Hell no. I kept on doing speed, although not at the 'fiend' level for several more years and only stopped once I was married and had a child.

The Moral of the Story: Speed is dangerous, highly addictive and simply bad news. I had many other experiences similar to the one described above (although that was the worst one) but instead of saying, 'This is insane, why am I doing this to myself?' I just kept on doing speed, although I honestly exercised moderation, which put me on the fringe of the hard-core speed addict world which was downright frightening.

Some of the things I saw when 'scoring' with some of my hard-core friends would break your heart and looked like scenes straight out of Cops.

I can remember waiting for several hours at a woman's house (she was a fully-blown addict) with my friend, with her and with her two kids, aged appx. 10 and 15. This family scene with Mom as a speedfreak doing $10,000 speed deals on the kitchen table right in front of the kids was horrifying.

Stay away from the WHITE DEVIL.

Exp Year: 1985ExpID: 20698
Gender: Male 
Age at time of experience: Not Given 
Published: Nov 1, 2005Views: 173,636
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Methamphetamine (37) : Various (28), Train Wrecks & Trip Disasters (7), General (1)

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