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Crystal meth in Germany : Between wakefulness and madness

Come in, make yourself comfortable! Coffee? Beer? Cant? First music louder, right ?! Daniel buzzes like a dragonfly through his one-room apartment in Berlin, talking on the phone, drinking and laughing. A photo montage hangs on the wall, it shows an angel. Three friends are sitting on the couch, they too are vibrating.

A Thursday, 6 p.m., host Daniel says: "It will be amazing again!"

Daniel will talk to all kinds of people for the next 50 hours, order all kinds of drinks in three clubs, dance, sing, drive through Berlin in taxis for 100 euros, he will have sex with a friend, leave his jacket somewhere, and on Saturday, May 18th O'clock, Daniel will stumble into his apartment, sort his considerable collection of sneakers in the hallway for an hour, turn on the television, and finally doze off.

Daniel eats - 1.81 meters, 61 kilos - nothing in the 50 hours.

Crystals like bath salts

The music from the speakers mixes with the smirking of the friends, every observer is infected by the anticipation of the odyssey that is about to begin.

Daniel sprinkles crumbs from crumpled foil on the table. A thin line of fine crystals three inches long that look like bath salts. Crystal meth, a laboratory drug based on amphetamines, made from cough suppressants, among other things. Daniel pulls the crystals into his nose through a rolled 20 euro note. The amount didn't cost him five euros.

Daniel vaguely describes what then happens: Your nose tingles, your head floods, a warm wind tears open the windows in your brain, the contours of all furniture, appliances, plants become sharp, this light, the desire ...

The crystals that look so wondrous probably come from a warehouse in the Czech Republic, maybe from a camper in Holland or Brandenburg. In the meantime, professionals manufacture crystal in mobile mini-laboratories. In the US, millions have tried it, hundreds of thousands have destroyed it.

Living room, gay party, beer tent

The federal government recently declared crystal to be currently the most dangerous drug. For most intoxicants, the number of first-time users caught did not increase - unlike Crystal. Last year, almost 2,800 first-time users were noticed - these are just the people who took crystal for the first time in 2013 and were caught doing it.

Because the substance often comes from the Czech Republic, the crystal epidemic began in Saxony and Bavaria. The state government in Saxony has now announced a special program: more investigators, more psychiatrists, more networking between offices.

In Berlin, too, there are small celebrations like the one in Daniel's living room every day. The drug is openly offered at many gay parties in the city, but it is also available in beer tents in the Brandenburg province. In March, crystal bags were found on a playground in Kreuzberg.

Academics and workers, philistines and gangsters

Crystal stimulates longer than usual amphetamines like speed, any hunger and all worries seem to evaporate, it stimulates sexually more strongly than cocaine. Above all, crystal is more addictive. Daniel knows men who only want sex on Crystal. In the long term, it ruins the memory, usually leading to paranoia and depression. A love of detail turns into a widespread delusion: Aren't the little dots on the wall poisonous beetles? Energy turns into apathy: why work, read, cook - all pointless!

Daniel is not there yet. Even with Crystal, it takes time to crash. Daniel grew up in Potsdam. He knew it in 10th grade, his family a year later, and when he finished high school, the whole school: “I'm gay.” He didn't have any problems with coming out. Daniel believes that not all gays are so addicted to drugs. Crystal has long been everyone's drug, say doctors and therapists: heterosexuals, homos, men, women, academics, workers, philistines, gangsters. It is estimated that four tons were consumed nationwide in 2013, that is more than 40 million of the servings that Daniel pulled off the table.

Why Crystal, whose image itself is worse than that of heroin?

Beer, smoking pot, coke, crystal

Daniel didn't start with Crystal. It has increased slowly, not unusual. The first beer with 14, with 16 smoking pot, with 19 now and then with ecstasy, with 22 cocaine. He likes the latter so much that he will soon want more. Daniel does what you do at this age: overdo it a little. Because cocaine doesn't work for too long, he often buys more during the night. “That became too expensive for me,” says Daniel. "I left it there." With cocaine, that still works quite often.

Then he meets his first friend. And he raves about these new types of crystals. Daniel already knew the infamous before and after photos. On the recordings from the USA, crystal users are shown after the first and after the last arrest. There are a few years in between, but the pictures look as if they were about other people: blotchy, emaciated faces. A look at these photos should put everyone off.

Just try it once, Daniel tells himself, it usually works fine. Mostly.

Many say: already after the first time this desire

Daniel tried it for the first time with his friend a year ago. Then again and again. Not all, but very many, say: they felt this desire the first time. A mental need for this universe, alertness, lust. Even the most dangerous narcotic drug - heroin, glue, crack - attracts the lonely and the lonely. People who have every reason to numb themselves. To be raptured - for many it is a blessing, the reality would be too harsh.

But Daniel looks like the US actor Jared Leto. When he brushes his strands behind his ears, women and men look after him like loyal dogs. Daniel is a graphic artist, after his training he gets well-paid jobs. Its reality is not hard.

Why Crystal? Daniel tells of the curiosity, the belief that it will never end up like the ones in the photos.

Two lines are enough

Crystal makes everything a personal revelation. Every song on the radio, the cutlery box, the shoes in the hallway. Where the sober person sees a street sign, hears the weather report, repairs a watch, the crystal consumer looks at a masterpiece, hears a hymn, fiddles with a technological miracle. What also makes it easy for Daniel: "You only need one, maximum two lines."

That's going to change.

It can be said that the three centimeters that Daniel pulled is currently equivalent to eight inches of commercial cocaine. Soon he will want more.

You don't need a clairvoyant, not even a psychiatrist, to know that. You need Uwe.

Three hours by train from Berlin, Uwe is sitting in a café in a pedestrian zone and drinking mineral water. Uwe is not called Uwe, but his name sounds similarly traditional. He is twice as old as Daniel and comes from a Bavarian village. Uwe is a craftsman, a buddy.

Crystal once found its way to Germany through men like him.

A Crystal veteran tells us

The photo on his ID shows a full-fledged man, symmetrical features, a confident look. He is still strong today, but his eyes are deeper in the sockets, his face has lost its elasticity. A Crystal veteran.

In the 80s, Uwe starts with "a nose" on the weekend - it's still cocaine. Uwe is curious and goes to the Czech Republic with friends at the end of the 90s: “And at some point we got something.” Crystal is an inexpensive alternative to coke. Both cost up to 100 euros per gram, but crystal is much more effective. In addition, the drug was not an issue at the time, Uwe was not familiar with the deterrent images. “On Crystal, you get distracted like a baby,” he says. “You can't even make your way to the bathroom anymore. There's a mirror hanging in the hallway - super interesting. ”He spent two hours sorting screws and threads.

Even before Crystal, Uwe had a lot of arguments, separation and debts with his wife. He pulls more and more, after all he imports the material himself. Then a serious illness is diagnosed, the doctor only gives him a few more years - hasty, Uwe is still alive. But the diagnosis gives him the rest.

Half a kilo through the nose

Shortly before the end, which becomes a new beginning, Uwe takes the material several times a day. A week without sleep, a gray haze in front of your eyes, paranoia. At the same time, he has every reason to be cautious, because investigators are monitoring him, and in 2008 he was arrested.

He says: "Jail saved me."

He has not touched Crystal since his arrest, therapy follows after prison, he avoids old acquaintances and has moved.

In the past 25 years, Uwe has pulled around half a kilogram: cocaine, speed, crystal. Even today he is easily distracted. Sometimes he thinks for a long time about decisions that other people make casually: turn left or right? Buy this or that sweater? Order another water? It takes time for new paths to be found in the brain, for a song, a smell, a mild evening not to awaken the need for crystal, but, let's say, for sport, a book or mowing the lawn. For many, everyday life - job, office, family - will be a burden for years to come.

Women who do everything

Uwe still has an eye for the scene, he recognizes those searching in the pedestrian zones and those who could get something. "You lied to yourself back then," he says. "You constantly pass by places where there is something, as if by chance."

Many drugs are initially about sex. Many start because the partner - or someone who is to become one - does it too. Women on Crystal, says Uwe, did everything. And by that he doesn't just mean risky practices, but four or five men in a row.

From drug consultations it is said that more women have recently come because of crystal than because of cocaine, for example. Many of them also speak of increased libido. There are no representative figures. But you can ask women about it. Three days awake, harder sex?

Just a nose once a month?

“Not with me,” says Jana. “I don't go nuts or anything.” Jana's real name is also different, she lives in Berlin, is in her mid-twenties and is quite slim. Crystal first took her in 2010 with her boyfriend at the time. “I do it irregularly, but on average not more than once a month.” Just a nose once a month, is that possible?

Not excluded, say doctors, and explain it this way: Amphetamines have different effects. The drug Ritalin is also an amphetamine, quasi legal speed. But it calms down hyperactive children, so they can concentrate better. And in fact, Jana is pretty much alive, to say the least. Maybe she is lucky, maybe the consumption is less harmful to her than others.

Jana lives in a small apartment in the east of Berlin. Everything has its place. The pens are in their own cup, the clothes hang on hooks, the couch is vacuumed.

However, Jana knows that she often cannot focus on one thing for long. She passed her thesis at university, but since then - apart from partying - not much has happened. She is now helping out in a restaurant. The Berlin drug commissioner says: Controlled consumption is only possible for a few, mentally stable people.

Once Jana went to a drug counseling service: “They don't know what they're talking about. If you haven't taken it, you can't help either. "

Crystal? Only this summer

Will Uwe, the veteran, get weak again? "I do not think so. I only smoke weed, ”he says. That calms him down, then Crystal doesn't irritate him. "My rest is now sacred to me."

One week later. It took Daniel five days to recover from the 50 hour session. During that time he worked little and watched a lot of television.

What is he doing this weekend? "Somehow I still feel like doing everything." But only this summer, then he is drained. Now friends, music, crystal. “But, as I said, only this summer. You have to know when to break up. "

And then Daniel says: "I would never have done it if I had known it was so awesome."

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