Longform

Methology - Part III

Page 4 of 7

Scotty pulls out his pacifier to field questions, but frequently repeats the first word of a sentence several times, or abandons a response halfway and starts over. When he's done, he replaces the pacifier and resumes his gnawing.

He says he first tried meth in the fall of 1996, and didn't like it. Scotty snorted three tiny lines with high school friends and went to a party. Instead of having fun, he couldn't stop feeling the inside of his mouth: "I had like this white guck all over my tongue."

The next time was "way better." It started on a Friday night last January or February, when he snorted two lines of what may have been "glass" (an extremely pure, potent form of methamphetamine). Scotty was wired for about 35 hours, most of it pleasantly intense.

"I hung out with friends a lot," he recalls. "I played a lot of Sega, and I skateboarded."

He fell asleep early Sunday morning and awoke five hours later, lightly toasted, but still in one piece. By Monday morning, he says he felt "totally normal."

Since then, Scotty says, he's been tweaking two or three times a month, almost always on weekends. His parents are divorced, and he lives with his father, whom he is certain has no idea he uses meth.

"It's not like being drunk, where you have coordination problems. Just wear tinted glasses, and remember to speak slowly and keep track of the fact that your mind is moving a lot faster than anyone else's, and you won't have any problems."

Tweaking on a school night, Scotty says, is a no-no.
"That feeling you get when the sun's coming up and you haven't slept and you've got things to do that day . . . eggh. That's when you know what a vampire feels like."

Scotty looks up at an imaginary sun, shields his face with his forearms and hisses. Soon, he ducks into a nearby room with his girlfriend, who's also tweaking.

A half-hour later, they return with a newly compiled list of "Top Five Things Tweakers Say":

1. "No, no, dude. I can fix it."
2. "Get the guns--I'm sure I just heard our name on the police scanner."
3. "What time is it?"
4. "Are you sure there's no one out there?"
5. "I can drive. I got four hours of sleep on Wednesday."
Before moving along, Scotty agrees to continue the conversation later.

"I don't really have anything bad to say about speed," he says over the phone the following evening, sounding coherent and articulate.

"I've heard all the horror stories, but I've never gotten paranoid and started seeing things. I've never forgotten to take a shower, and I've never hurt anyone, including myself."

Scotty claims he controls his meth use, never buying more than $20 worth for a weekend: "Rule number one: Don't go buy more once you're out."

When he's high, Scotty likes to play video games, watch movies and attend parties. But his favorite thing on speed is to attend a Phoenix Suns game--he says he always gets good seats.

"I just get so into the strategy. It's like I can see what's going through the coaches' and players' minds . . . and the crowd cheering really gets me going. I feel like I'm out there playing.

"At a Suns game, you don't really have to worry about keeping yourself looking calm to other people. You can yell and jerk around and get excited and it's okay, because it's an NBA basketball game and you're a fan and that's what you're supposed to do. You know--NBA! It's Faaaaantastic!"

Scotty says he's applied "to a lot of good universities on the West Coast," and hopes his good grades will get him there.

Asked when and if he plans to quit using meth, Scotty waxes philosophical:
"Probably I will someday, just like I'll probably stop smoking cigarettes someday. But I only smoke cigarettes on weekends, too. My point is, if you can handle it sometimes, you can handle it. So instead of just saying no, I just say, 'Sometimes.'"

The Czar
Alex Mahon, "Arizona's first meth czar," says he doesn't care much for his unofficial handle.

"Sounds hokey to me," says Mahon, who has a slew of official titles, including colonel in the Arizona Air National Guard and the director of Arizona's Methamphetamine Control Strategy.

Methamphetamine wasn't even mentioned in the White House's 1994 report on the nation's illegal-drug problems.

But by October 1995, ex-governor J. Fife Symington III appointed Mahon to develop a statewide strategy to try to reverse meth's mushrooming growth.

It's been a daunting mission on all fronts, says the eclectic czar, a straight-talking man in his early 50s whose resume includes stints as an attorney, a jet pilot, a college professor and a DEA agent.

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