During my senior year of high school, the Montana Meth Project had just kicked off, and posters spotlighting the dangers of methamphetamine peppered our hallways. Dirty, skinny, scabbed teens with meth mouth doing whatever they had to to get their drug of choice were the focal point of the posters, and the possibility of peeling or scratching off your skin as a result of meth psychosis was made blatantly and graphically clear. The goal of the campaign was obvious: to paint a terrifying picture of meth, dissuading us, the impressionable youth, from using.
Did it succeed? Yes—after seeing those posters, I was definitely convinced I’d never want to get close to the drug—but it also crafted a very clear image of methamphetamine addicts as gross, dirty failures, completely separate from me. This perception of meth users, strengthened by numerous other preconceptions, led me to believe that this was a grimy, disgusting drug that could never lead to addiction in someone “normal” like me.
This assumption is patently false. Although methamphetamine use has decreased in recent years, in 2012 approximately 1.2 million people reported using the drug in the previous year. Meth has become more accessible than ever, causing many successful, high-functioning people to fall victim to its effects. The following myths regarding methamphetamine use perpetuate the stigmas surrounding the drug and its users, and the attendant shame can prevent many from taking advantage of readily available treatments.