The novel Methamphetamine: A Love Story is an
in-depth analysis of the dark effects that come with a relationship to
Methamphetamine. The Author, Rashi K. Shukla, uses her passion for interviewing
to explore the lives of those who have experienced the brutality from
addiction. In the foreword by Marcus Felson, it is mentioned that the result to
Shukla’s analysis is “to recommend both comprehensive approaches and that no
single antimeth technique works for all parts of the problem” (Shukla 2016, p.
Shukla shares her
experience throughout her quantitative research and the information that was
revealed through her interviewing process of four years. To allow the reader to gain an understanding
of the most involved lifestyle of methamphetamine, manufacturing, she had to be
cautious in the questions she chose to ask her interviewees. She includes that
her interviewing process required finding a way to ask her participants if they
have ever manufactured methamphetamine without them feeling like their response
would have immediate consequences.
Shukla’s interviewing process involved asking questions about each participants
background, traumatic experiences, and why methamphetamine came to be so crucial
to them. This included asking about early childhood experiences, early exposure
to other drugs or alcohol, and how they personally define addiction. These
interviews showed tremendous amounts of diversity between the participants in
regards to different upbringings, exposures, and life experiences. An important
concept to note from this novel is that although there are multiple patterns
and similarities among the backgrounds of the participants, it is discovered
that there is not one single experience, situation, or event that serves as an
explanation to why they all became so involved in the world of methamphetamine.
Of the thirty-three adults that participated in her study, ten
adults shared that they came from backgrounds where they were not exposed to
anyone using drugs or participating in criminal activity. Shukla makes clear
that although many adults faced early exposures to others involved in crime or
substance abuse, it is not a factor that guarantees immersion down the road.
She goes on to explain that “while the direct link between past experiences and
future behavior are unknown, early experiences set the stage for what would
follow” (Shukla 2016, p. 45).
To finalize the summarization of Shukla’s findings, two patterns
that resulted from her study will be shared. Firstly, Shukla concluded that no
one among the participants began substance abuse with the use of
methamphetamine, and that each adult has experimented with other drugs before
their introduction to meth. Secondly, she found that every participant had
initial opportunities to use- all of which took place in social situations with
people they knew. A portion of these participants reported to have previously
used drugs with the people they knew in these situations.
first objective in linking ideas and concepts from Methamphetamine: A Love Story to specific ideas/concepts to class material is identifying
the world of methamphetamine as a social problem. In our textbook, Social Problems: Community, Policy, and
Social Action, a social problem is defined as “a social condition that has
negative consequences for individuals, our social world, or the physical world”
(Leon -Guerrero 2016, p. 43). From
Shukla, we can see the relationship between a meth and the user as extremely
destructive simply due to the fact that continuous usage causes extreme
behavioral, mental, physical, and emotional consequences.
To our social world, meth can be destructive in
terms of relationships and social responsibilities. Additionally, we can see from Shukla that
meth also poses a threat to our physical world. The author shares with us how
meth labs have posed immediate dangers to society through “lab-related fires,
explosions, and contamination” (Shukla 2016, p. 22). Methamphetamine can also
be identified as a social problem because it has the power to threaten social
institutions. For example, the family is a social institution that can be
negatively affected by methamphetamine. This can include improper childcare and
early exposure to hard drugs for children as well as difficulties in marriage
due to the behavioral and mental consequences of meth. Even a social
institution as big as the economy can be negatively influenced by
methamphetamine through the correlation between rising methamphetamine usage
and lowering unemployment. Another correlation that supports this would be
methamphetamine use increasing along with homelessness.
Another concept from our textbook that I believe
is important to link to Shukla’s novel is sociological imagination. The
textbook describes the sociological imagination as “the ability to link our
personal lives and experiences with our social world” (Leon-Guerrero 2016, p.
40). In order to use one’s social imagination, they must learn to distinguish
between personal troubles and public issues. Personal troubles are the problems
that take place within oneself and his or her relationship with others. In
contrast, public issues are described as “some value cherished by the publics
is felt to be threatened” (Leon-Guerrero 2016, p. 40).
The reasoning as to why I felt the need to
relate this concept to Shukla’s novel came from a quote I found to be of great
importance. “The truth is that the two worlds- the one of meth-amphetamine and
the one we live in- are inextricably interconnected” (Shukla 2016, p. 22). Here, she explains how there is a common
misconception that methamphetamine is only a personal trouble, that it is only
a problem for those directly affected. However, we can see through Shukla’s
explanation how it is common for important public health issues to be
overlooked in response to the drug problem at hand.
Specifically, there are six public health issues
that Shukla relates to the harsh realities that come with methamphetamine: 1.
Child endangerment, abuse, and neglect, 2. Toxic places, 3. Intravenous drug
use, 4. Risky sex, 5. Risky drug use, and 6. Drug-related violence. An every-day example of one of these health
issues could be alcohol consumption or drug use taking place in the home (child
endangerment). A child coming home to such activities puts him or her at risk
of exposure to drugs and criminal activity. Additionally, Shukla mentions that
in doing so, the parent puts the well-being of the child aside.
Many individuals associate the problems that
come with meth as strictly personal troubles. Because of this, it is important
to show why this problem goes beyond issues of the users and their
relationships with others. The answer is simple- meth is an issue because of
all the public values it threatens (child endangerment, toxic places,
After reading Methamphetamine:
A Love Story, I can conclude that I have been enlightened on a subject that
most of today’s society overlooks. Truthfully, before reading this novel, I
felt no sympathy towards people who give up their lives for the feelings that
meth provides them. In fact, I viewed meth users as people who want to give up everything for the high.
However, the insight that this book provides shed light to a dark world in
which I knew nothing about.
Most of the
participants in this study shared with Shukla that using was simply a way to
fight darkness with darkness- it was a way to self-medicate and cope with the
horrors they’ve faced. This really spoke to me upon my realization that
everyone has their demons haunting them. I have gone through situations in life
that were life-altering, some great and some painful. However, even in my
darkest moments, I have had my family fighting my battles with me. Seeing how
many of the participants were alone in their battles allowed me to step back
and think what my situation would be like if I had to do the same. Facing
things alone is something that I can’t judge a person for coping with in their
own way. Additionally, reading this novel allowed me to truly appreciate the
level of difficulty each participant had to face in overcoming the battle with
meth. From what I have learned, it is a journey in which the user must want
first. Judgment and negativity are only forces that worsen the isolation that
I’ve also learned
the severity that hard drug use can cause to the users and their relationships
with their families and friends. The harsh effects damage everyone. Not only a
child to their drug-using parent or the stress that comes with breaking ties
with a friend who’s life is too dangerous to take part in, but the effect that
Meth has on society as a whole. Shukla has helped me open my mind to the drug
problem at hand, as well as helped form my realization that it is a problem in
which solutions need to be sought after on a regular basis. By seeking solutions, society has the chance
to improve the lives of many, especially children. No single solution will help
fix the severe damage that methamphetamine has caused, but multiple solutions
can slowly help repair the problem one step at a time.
Anna. Social Problems: Community,
Policy, and Social Action. fifth
ed., Sage, play.google.com/books/reader?id=evsOCgAAQBAJ&pg=GBS.PT4.
Rashi K. Methamphetamine: a Love
University of California Press, 2016,