Methamphetamine abuse Tweakers
A methamphetamine abuser is most harmful when tweaking. The fact that a law enforcement officer is confronting the tweaker makes him more hazardous, not just to the officer on the scene but also to anyone in close proximity. When tweaking, the meth abuser has probably not slept in 3-15 days and consequently will be very irritable. The tweaker craves more methamphetamine, but no quantity will help re-create the euphoric high. The consequence is a huge feeling of uncontrollable frustration that makes the tweaker unpredictable and dangerous.
If the law enforcement officer on the scene is unfamiliar with the physical indicators of a tweaker, the abuser can seem normal. Indeed, unlike an individual intoxicated on alcohol with glassy eyes, slurred speech, and difficulty even standing up, a tweaker appears super-exaggerated normal. The tweaker’s eyes are clear, his speech concise, and his movements brisk. With a closer look at the tweaker, law enforcement officers will see that his eyes are moving approximately ten times faster than normal and might roll. He is talking in a fast, frequently steady voice with a slight quiver to it, and his movements are quick and jerky. The person’s movements are frequently exaggerated because he is over stimulated, and his thinking is scattered and subject to paranoid delusions.
The tweaker does not need provocation to react violently; nonetheless, confrontation increases the possibility for a violent reaction. Law enforcement officers should consider the risk for violence when determining that a suspect is tweaking. For instance, case histories demonstrated that tweakers react negatively to the sight of a police uniform. Confrontation between the tweaker and law enforcement frequently results in a verbal or physical assault on the law enforcement officer.
Besides confrontation, nobody knows exactly what will trigger a tweaker to be irrational and violent. A tweaker exists in his own world, seeing and hearing things that no one else will perceive. His hallucinations are so vivid that they seem real. What law enforcement officers really say and do enter into the abuser’s altered reality, and if his paranoia is triggered, law enforcement appears to be a menace to the tweaker’s life.
It is during tweaking that hostage situations can readily happen. If the meth abuser feels cornered, with no ways to escape, the tweaker is likely to take a hostage, frequently an associate, a relative, or a police officer. In extreme instances, the tweaker might physically assault the hostage.
If the tweaker has decided to ease his discomfort with alcohol, he becomes a disinhibited tweaker, making reasoning with him or even identifying him as a tweaker harder. Physical indicators of a tweaker become blurred to an observer when the tweaker is also drinking alcohol. Motor and speech functions, for instance, become impaired, but not to the degree of an individual using only alcohol. The rapid eye movement and the fast speech of a tweaker may actually slow to an apparently normal speed. Nonetheless, a tweaker also drinking alcohol can be identified in two ways:
1. Individuals who can get sufficiently close to see the tweaker’s eyes should look for a horizontal-gaze nystagmus. This phenomenon happens when the methamphetamine abuser, who is also using alcohol, looks out of the corner of his eyes, and the eyes jerk back and forth.
2. If communication lines are open with the tweaker, ask the tweaker if he has been using methamphetamine and then inquire if he is also drinking alcohol.
If a strong smell of alcohol is present, but no indications of drunkenness exist, one should err on the side of caution and approach the individual as a tweaker using alcohol instead of assuming that the person is harmless. Because tweakers using alcohol are generally not concerned with the consequences of their actions, a situation can rapidly lead to violence.