The Meth Death Cover-Up

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The federal government's new anti-drug Web site, mentioned by Nick earlier today, includes a conspicuous link to "Meth Is Death," a site maintained by the Tennessee District Attorneys' Association. Among other things, the site claims that "1 in 7 high school students will try meth"; "99 percent of first-time meth users are hooked after just the first try"; "only 5 percent of meth addicts are able to kick it and stay away"; and "the life expectancy of a habitual meth user is only 5 years." Forget, for the moment, that there is no basis for these numbers in the federal government's own data on drug use. To believe them, you would have to believe that hundreds of thousands of Americans in their late teens and early 20s are dying each year as a result of methamphetamine abuse–a fact that somehow has been overlooked in the media's eagerness to publicize the horrors of "meth mouth."

Addendum: Elsewhere on the DEA's site (which is called, with no trace of irony, "Just Think Twice"), we are warned that "discussion of the drug issue is sometimes filled with emotion, inaccuracies and wishful thinking. In many cases, what is represented as 'fact' is really fiction, and it's hard to notice the difference."

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  1. “99 percent of first-time meth users are hooked after just the first try”

    Guess I fall into the category of those unusual outliers at 1%.

  2. And in case you were wondering: No, I’m not dead.

    In fact, I occasionally get compliments on my smile.

  3. Wow, so 13.57% of all high schoolers will be dead in 5 years?

  4. In fact, I occasionally get compliments on my smile.

    Oh, that’s just rigor mortis! 🙂

    Wow, so 13.57% of all high schoolers will be dead in 5 years?

    No, it’s only 13.44% you ninny! You forgot to multiply by .99!!

    OTOH, assuming this has been going on for at least 9 years (five years plus the four years of high school), then 13.44% of all high schoolers should ALREADY be dead!

    They are, right? Don’t give me that “nice smile” stuff, I’ve already debunked THAT!

  5. independent worm,

    And considering that there are more than 20 mil Americans between the ages of 15 and 19 (inclusive), we would be seeing about 2.7 mil people dying in the next five years, or about 540,000 people a year. Man, it might be worth it to get into the funeral and organ provider industries.

  6. No, it’s only 13.44% you ninny! You forgot to multiply by .99!!

    Ahhhh! Busted! Overstating the danger of drugs! Ok i admit it, I’m a mole for the ONDCP. Ummm… you’re all under arrest.

  7. For all the foolishness of this latest campaign, I think we should give some credit to the anti-drug warriors for the meth-mouth scare tactic. It is, at least, more likely to hit home with people, especially teen-agers. Appeals to vanity work; appeals to long-term health concerns don’t. Tell a 15 year old “this will give you a heart attack” and he will never believe you because he thinks he’s immortal; but tell him “this will give you zits and ugly teeth” and he just might listen.

  8. I love the tactic used in the page linked from the addendum! Drug pushers are greedy (and therefore eeeevil)! I half expected it to read “greedy corporations.”

  9. This is so stupid. In their zeal to propagandize against a dangerous drug, they publish so much misinformation that they actually undermine the real dangers.

    We need education, not propaganda. Let people make informed choices. If they ruin their lives anyway, that’s their choice.

    If you can’t outlaw hitting oneself in the head with a hammer, you can’t outlaw drugs.

  10. CT,

    We must be in some kind of probability-distorting space-time bubble here at H&R, because I’m one of the 1% who didn’t get hooked, too.

    We should harness this energy for good. I’ll buy some lottery tickets; you head to Vegas. Meet back here in a week.

  11. Wow, no posts on the destruction of New Orleans. I guess that is because lack of government action is the problem. No libertarian solution to this or is it, let them die.

  12. friendofliberty,

    I wish my shit came out all rosy smelling like yours does!

  13. * WAR IS PEACE
    * FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
    * IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

  14. FYI…in the interest of getting the best possible information on drugs, thier effects, etc., check out http://www.erowid.org This site is remarkably honest and the best source I’ve yet found for the curious drug user. Thought y’all’d like to know.

  15. friendofliberty:

    why the fuck does libertarianism, which is a political philosophy focusing on the role of government, have to have a goddamned solution to every problem?

    here’s yer solution: voluntarily give your money and time to the red cross and/or other aid organizations.

    Now, instead of complaining about libertarianism’s supposed inability to deal with Katrina, why don’t you do something that’s actually useful, like drive south and help feed some starving hurricane victims.

  16. I guess that is because lack of government action is the problem.

    Actually, government subsidies allowed such a big chunk of New Orleans to be built below sea level, setting the stage for the current disaster to have its Biblical scale.

    And you can be sure that it will all be rebuilt with tax money, so that it can all be knocked down again. And again. And again. Because some people just like living in New Orleans, and we should all pay to help them do so.

    There. Is that libertarian enough for you?

  17. RC:

    I explained the very same thing to my mother just the other night. As is discussed by Stossel in “Confessions of a Welfare Queen”, when the government subsidizes risky behavior with taxpayer dollars, they inadvertently (or, purposefully, depending on how you look at it) remove the natural market forces that would help to partially prevent losses of this scale. If coastal flood insurance wasn’t subsidized or price-regged by the gubmint, then places that are high-risk would simply be too expensive to build in in the first place.

  18. The only obvious libertarian aspect to the Katrina story, to me, is one effect of public transit I hadn’t thought of. Lots of people in New Orleans supposedly had great trouble evacuating because they didn’t own cars – and why not? A supposedly excellent public transit system.

  19. Eric,

    People had about 5 days notice, even without a car most could have at least made it out of the flood area on foot. But a bunch of people walking might have scared the shit out of people outside the urban areas.

  20. People are also damn stubborn, that’s probably a major factor also. Me? This libertarian will be giving to a charity as soon as the paycheck hits the bank tonight.

  21. Back to the topic, with assorted snide comments:

    Hundreds of thousands of dead teenagers? So meth is beneficial after all…

    Hundreds of thousands of dead teenagers? Damn the Liberal Press for covering this up! Where is Fox?

    Hundreds of thousands of dead teenagers? Things are looking up for the entry-level job market.

    Hundreds of thousands of dead teenagers? Can we expect some school closures soon? And the resultant reduction in school taxes? What do you mean, “No”?

    Hundreds of thousands of dead teenagers? What is this, Sunnydale?

  22. I’ll have to weigh in that I’m part of that 1% that didn’t get hooked.

    How long has thr government been overstating, at best, or outright lying, at worst, about the bad side-effects of illegal drugs? Complete and utter bullshit.

  23. “If you can’t outlaw hitting oneself in the head with a hammer”

    That’s NOT illegal? I hear it gives a good buzz.

  24. I have also heard that drilling a hole in your head is a real rush and that’s legal too, yay. Let’s all do it.

  25. I’ll jump off that Cliff!

  26. Not to go against the grain or anything… but all you have to do is go to a gay club, particularly in a college town/otherwise slightly-rural area, to see many examples of “meth mouth” first-hand. It ain’t pretty.

  27. So meth use is why Gays are Evil?

    Now I get it!

  28. “but all you have to do is go to a gay club, particularly in a college town/otherwise slightly-rural area, to see many examples of “meth mouth” first-hand. It ain’t pretty”

    And soon enough, that individual will no longer have a need to go to the club, as nobody will go home with him.

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