Sunday, July 31, 2016

Rashi K. Shukla's "Methamphetamine: A Love Story"

Rashi K. Shukla is Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Central Oklahoma. She received her PhD in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University and has served as lead investigator of a multimethod study of the methamphetamine problem for more than a decade. Her research, which focuses on offender decision-making and the evolution of drug problems, has been presented in numerous forums, both nationally and internationally.

Shukla applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Methamphetamine: A Love Story, and reported the following:
Page 99 begins the sixth chapter titled, “An Intoxicating Life.” It is the place where the end of the story begins. Having gone through the dimensions of the methamphetamine immersed lifestyle – using, dealing, and manufacturing – this is the first of three chapters dedicated to describing the lived experience from an insider’s perspective. As with many drug journeys, this one is characterized by pleasure and highs on many levels. Understanding the intoxicating aspects involves moving beyond common conceptions about the pulls and draws of the drug. It is a lifestyle. And it is intoxicating. But that is just the beginning.

A quote by Patrick, a trucker who lived the high life for more than two decades, introduces the chapter. As we discussed his story and the magnetisms of the life, he elucidated the challenge that lay ahead of me in my forthcoming attempts to tell the story that needed to be told, stating:
“It was a glamourous life. You gonna have a rough time telling that story. When I speak to kids, depending on [who] I speak to, kids, adults, I speak to impact panels, I speak to judges, I speak to a lot of people and it’s, it’s a hard story to tell; it’s in the wording. Because it’s a glamorous life, it’s a fun life. You know? But in the long run it’s, it’s trouble. I seen out of my graduating class, it was about sixty-five kids, there are less than twenty of us alive.”
He was right. It would be a hard story to tell…honestly. The first paragraph on page 99 sets the stage for understanding all that preceded this point of the story and all that later follows. It is a critical piece of the puzzle.
The world of methamphetamine is intoxicating. It is filled with highs: meth, money, sex, power, and control. It is as good as it gets. It is, in reality, too good to be true. Use is not the only “addicting” factor. Rather, it is addicting because of what it provides. There is something enticing about the intoxicated life, more than just the drug.
There are very real aspects of the methamphetamine lifestyle that attracts people to it. This is one of the reasons that a number of them referred to their feelings about methamphetamine as love. It is one of the reasons the book would include a chapter titled, “Loving Meth.” Perhaps, in the end, it is one of the reasons that the book would be given the title it did despite the darkness it portrays.
Excerpts from Methamphetamine: A Love Story reprinted with permission.
Learn more about Methamphetamine: A Love Story at the University of California Press website, and visit Rashi K. Shukla's website.

--Marshal Zeringue