Danielle is in her twenties. She has lived on the Northern Cheyenne reservation all her life. She describes the In's and mostly the Out's of the life of 6 years of meth use.
Danielle was smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol before she tried crank. She ran into an old friend of hers who was a dealer. "He introduced me to crank." He wanted Danielle to start selling weed for him. "So I started selling weed, and knowing that he had crank too. I didn't really wanna get into it because I didn't know what it was about."
One night Danielle was drunk to the point that she was sick. Her dealer asked her if she wanted a line of crank "So I said, 'Yeah, why not?' It sobered me up because he gave me such a big line I wasn't used to it. It was about half a quarter." She liked the fact that it seemed to sober her up. "So I asked him if I could get some from him." He agreed to give her some, since she was selling weed for him. "I was kinda scared of it myself. It only been so many times since I first tried it."
"I kinda wanted to see what it was about, 'cause everyone would talk about it. I was young then, how it sobered you up that was my main thing 'cause I liked to drink. Sometimes I'd get too drunk for myself. I'd hate that feeling so that line would sober me up. After I'd have that line I'd go to my drinking again."
Danielle started using crank more frequently, and was still selling weed. She was hanging out with her cousins, smoking weed when she decided to share this drug with them. "I said, 'Let's go take a line!' And I offered everyone a line. Everyone was scared of it. We all tried a line, and everyone was trippin' on it because it was nothing like you expected. They always make a big deal about it, you know? At the time, you were like 'Ah! This ain't such a big deal. It's like coke [cocaine], you know thatís from a plant.' But this stuff was way different!"
"I guess that's when I realized (by taking crank with other friends) that my addiction to crank began. Also, knowing one of the drug dealers helped meÖwith my crank addiction. I guess at that point I started liking it."
Danielle knew a dealer and would return to him often. "He was my main connection. He was my supplier, financially." John (Danielleís boyfriend) would sometimes give her money because he'd be working away from the reservation. "If it wasn't my dealer, it was him." She would scam him and talk him into giving her money. "One time I owed my dealer $50 for some weed, so I raised it to $250 more, so *John would help me with an eightball." He knew that she smoked weed occasionally but did not really know what else was going on. She was also selling. "I'd get about an ounce or two every week, or as fast as I could sell it to support my crank use. Instead of him [dealer] paying me money, he'd give me crank, 'cause thatís what I'd want." Danielle's boyfriend, her drug dealer, and selling weed were her main financial sources for crank.
Danielle was using crank consistently for about two years; then she found out she was pregnant. "I completely stopped when I found out I was pregnant. I quit smoking, I quit sugar, and caffeine, everything, 'cause you know, I was gonna try to settle my life down then." She had a baby girl and stayed at home with her most of the time. She stayed off crank for almost a year. Unfortunately, the temptation for crank was too strong, and she left John and her baby.
Danielle was reunited with an ex-boyfriend, Simon*, and they started smoking the crank in a bulb. "All we did was just bulb." She was smoking it for about a full year because, she says, "Snorting wasn't cutting it no more."
The following episode is why she quit smoking crank for some time:
She was smoking crank in a makeshift, light-bulb pipe when it got too hot. "One time I freaked out so bad because the glass had broke from being so hot, and you're inhaling it, you know, and I thought some of the glass particles went in my lungs, and I freaked out."
"I had to go to the clinic. I told them I had a seed caught in my throat, but it really wasn't that. I wanted to make sure that I was okay, 'cause I was freaking out. Well, I found myself at Billings Hospital. They put me out to see if anything was lodged in my throat. They couldn't find anything and sent me home. I quit bulbing after that, you know, 'cause I got scared."
Danielle, her boyfriend Dana*, and her cousin Tisha* were all living together in a little two-bedroom house. "We got into crank a lot. We lived in a little house, called the crank house because that's all we did."
During their crank binges they'd preoccupy themselves by drawing for hours on end. "On time me and Dana sat there and drew pictures for 12 hours straight. I wanted to keep going but Dana talked me out of it. I had Tisha drawing on her own walls with a bar of soap. She was making checker squares all over her walls and she was almost done." They'd sit there all amped out with big bulgy eyes just drawing.
Tisha had a little boy; unfortunately he was around the crankers and crank when they smoked it. Danielle thinks about how she affected her 3-year-old nephew by her crank habit. "I bet her son was probably high too 'cause he wouldn't eat or sleep (just like us). He was on the same schedule as us... which I feel bad about now... you know? I didn't feel bad back then, but I do now."
Tisha and Danielle would often leave Dana to watch the boy for days, sometimes weeks, on end while they went off on crank binges with other people.
Danielle continued to smoke crank, until one day a friend offered to let her shoot up. "I was at his house when he got the needles out. He asked me if I wanted to shoot up with him. I kinda wanted to try shootin' up, but I was scared." She said her heart started racing, and she wanted to run out of the house, but she felt like she couldn't move.
"I was scared, and when he got it all ready, I wanted to say 'No, I changed my mind,' because I'd never shot up before, but I couldn't." So, he inserted the needle in her arm and pushed the crank into her veins. "It was a rush, and I just fell back." Danielle says from that first time she shot up, she was hooked. "After shootin' up, I didn't want to smoke it no more; that's all I would do is shoot up."
After intravenously injecting crank for a few months, Danielle got paranoid of everyone and everything. When she was coming off crank, she'd go visit John and her baby, and she'd experience extreme paranoia. "When I stayed with him, I'd just sleep all the time. When he'd bring food into the room to feed me, I'd get mad at him 'cause I thought he was tryin' to poison me. I'd make him take a bite of everything before I would eat it. If he gave me something to drink, I'd do the same thing, or I'd only drink out of unopened containers." Danielle would stay with John and rest up for a week before heading back out to do crank again.
Danielle talks about a time she could no longer shoot up. "I was all amp'd out, and I was with my boyfriend, Elijah* at the time. I kept tryin' to shoot up, but I was so shaky I couldnít put the needle in. So I asked Elijah to put it in for me. He tried for forty-five minutes before he was able to put it in. I started crying 'cause my arms hurt so bad from shootin' up." She would hold her arms, rock back and forth and cry, because she beginning to see what she was doing to herself. After that, she decided to get off crank for awhile and start drinking.
Once again Danielle found out she was pregnant, and tried to sober up again. She and Elijah would occasionally party, but after she was about four months pregnant she stopped completely. "I felt bad for what I might have done to my baby, I just didnít believe that I was pregnant." She had a baby boy, and stayed off crank for a couple months before relapsing. "Elijah was still using crank, and he had a friend with a lot of crank come visit. So that's when I started using crank again. Well, we got into it pretty bad."
"I was ready to give up my son to Social Services so he'd have a chance. Then one day I watched my baby sleeping on the bed. He looked so tiny and precious, and I thought to myself, 'What am I doing? I wanna be a good mother, even though I messed up before. I wanted to raise him and take care of my daughter too. So I talked to Elijah, and told him that we needed to think about our son."
Since that day, Danielle has stayed off crank for just over a year. She is still with Elijah, and they are trying to raise their son in a better environment. She has occasional relapses with alcohol, but has never returned to crank. When asked if she'd ever do crank again she replied, "I couldnít say. I don't want to, but that stuff is so strong, I don't know what I'd do." Danielle was willing to share her story in hopes that other people could see what crank can do to a person, to a mother, to a daughter, to a family. She warns others not to use crank or to quit because she says: