American Meth

A History of the Methamphetamine Epidemic in America

Sterling R Braswell

reviewed by Mira de Vries

The author's wife was addicted to meth, and he was addicted to her. Thus he was inspired to write this book which is actually two stories woven together:
  • A history of meth, as promised by the title;
  • A chronicle of his mismanagement of his life.
Throughout the part about the meth, the author provides exactly one reference. Nothing else he states is referenced nor does he provide a bibliography. One is rather left with the impression that he gleaned the whole history from the Internet, which doesn't invalidate it. It's probably all true.

In the other part he relates squandering his leisure time and money, cavorting with the wrong crowd, failing to respond adequately to situations that require his action, and absurdly neglecting responsibility for himself and his property. He becomes attached to Lucille apparently for no more reason than that he enjoys her in bed, and marries her in spite of being aware that she's a methhead. He believes her to be mentally ill, and knows for certain that she is unfaithful to him, yet he gives her joint control of his bank accounts containing millions.

We aren't told anywhere whether the personal chronicle is fact or fiction. It doesn't matter, the message, though not the author's intention, is clear: don't become involved with drug addicts, whether the drugs are legal or by prescription.

Towards the end, one senses that this must be fiction.
Lucille's mother informs me that I am the father of a baby girl. "Eight pounds nine ounces," she says. "Perfectly healthy, perfectly content."
Unrealistic. Half of methbabies are born prematurely. Most will be small for gestational age. After birth the infant has to be monitored in NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). Going off meth cold turkey is dangerous for anyone, all the more for a tiny, fragile, probably sick neonate. Such an infant spends weeks in hospital and sustains lifelong disabilities.

The author goes on to describe his (ex-)mother-in-law delivering the baby to his door "wrapped in a blanket like a burrito." Again unrealistic. Hospital staff will have alerted legal and social authorities that the mother is a meth addict. There will be an investigation before the child is discharged into anybody's care. It's not at all certain the father would be entrusted with the infant, particularly considering that he has already neglected and abandoned his step-daughter, and he maintains contact with his methhead wife. A further hint that this is fiction is that the baby is a girl named Maria, while the back cover states, "Sterling Braswell ... lives in Houston with his son, Spencer."

According to the Internet, the author tragically passed away at the young age of 49. Meth or not, Heaven have pity on the child.

Copyright MeTZelf