The Relationship between between Drug use & Gang activity

Rick Reyes for StreetGangs
November 26, 2005

Drugs and gangs go hand and hand there is no separating the two. When I speak of drugs I am referring to both marijuana and alcohol as well. I am an ex-gang member and ex-drug addict so I am not only speaking as an addiction professional but also as someone who survived the deadly cycle of addiction and gang banging.

The individual may deny that they have a problem with addiction because they think that they are able to function. The problem is that they do not see how they are functioning but they are functioning in a dysfunctional manner. How can someone tell you that your life is out of control when everyone around you is just as out of control as you are? The bottom line is that there are many factors that shape us and create who we are. If one is using drugs their life is an escape, fiction and not real. It is a façade and a mirage of what you circumstances truly are and the result is a limited family system, an attachment to gangs, and unwise personal choices.

The main drug of choice on the street today is Methamphetamine. Within the past 5 years Meth use has increased in potency and continues to destroy the lives of the user, family and society. Meth is a central nervous stimulant that produces euphoria “high” that many compare to cocaine. The main difference is that unlike cocaine, Methamphetamine has a longer effect of the user.

Identifying a Meth User

. increased heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration
· flushed or tense appearance
· dilated pupils
· bloodshot eyes
· a chemical odor on their breath
· excessive sweating
· rapid speech
· inability to sleep or eat
· severe weightloss
· rotting teeth
· scars and open sores “speed bumps”
· paranoia
· hallucinations (often times auditory)
· repetitive behavior
· memory loss
· depression
· psychosis (resulting from lack of food, water and insomnia)
· teeth grinding
· restlessness
· tremors

Our bodies were not created to be deprived of sleep, food and water and when this happens to our bodies it will respond in various ways that are unhealthy to the wellbeing on that person. I had a friend that was about 13 when I first met him and he was a good kid but thanks to the “homies” and drugs, a monster was created. Within a few years he had changed completely and became very delusional, paranoid and involved in risky criminal behavior. I remember seeing him standing outside staring up in to the sky and he looked like a lost little boy. It hurt me to see him this way but as it happens so often, he’s dead now from a gun shot wound.

Not only does the drug destroy your life but it causes you to make foolish choices which increase your risk of death, by the drug or by the elements of the streets. If you or someone you knows has an addition, this is an opportunity to get help or to help the one you love who has this problem. I am reaching out not just to gang membersm but for anyone who is tired of being sick and tired.

When I was gang banging and using drugs, people were always telling me to change, but no one ever showed me how to change. That is what is going to make the difference. I did not become a drug addict over night and I will not change completely over night as it is a process. It takes, action: There are many organizations that can help you but you can not get the help unless you call.

Rick Reyes CADC-II
(562) 644-5730

Whittier Apostolic faith Center Church
5724 Esperanza Ave.
Whittier, CA 90606
Bible Study Fri-7:30PM
Spanish Service Sun-11:00AM
English Service Sun 2:00PM

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