Dark as crystal: Documentary reveals the faces of meth

Shannon Kuhfuss

Shannon Kuhfuss
City Times

On December 12, 2007, a powerful documentary titled “Crystal Darkness” aired on KPBS, which contained contributions from City College’s Wendy Zizzo, Assistant Professor of Alcohol and Other Drug Studies Program, and some of her students.

“Crystal Darkness” is a 30-minute film demonstrating the toxic effects of Crystal Meth on our society today. In the documentary, various young people confess the dark truths of how Crystal Meth has destroyed their lives and the lives of those around them. Their testimonies, though shocking and grim, are intended to warn today’s youth about the antagonistic effects of the drug.

The film is a campaign in itself, which came to San Diego on Dec.12 and is working its way around the United States one city at a time. According to the film’s website, the campaign’s desired outcomes are to “raise awareness of methamphetamine problems and solutions, assure meth hotline callers receive quality referrals, and to create linkages to ongoing prevention efforts.”

The documentary explains the short and long term effects on the body, how the drug is made, and where it is made. The location of the Crystal Meth “cook houses” or production facilities is a concern to the San Diego community because most of the drug is being produced in Mexico and central California.

In an e-mail interview with Zizzo, she states, “The most important thing everyone should take away from this documentary is that addiction transcends all boundaries: race/ethnicity; religion; socioeconomic status; education; etc. And we should try to empathize with those who struggle with addiction instead of judging them.”

The “Crystal Darkness” website states that San Diego had once been known as the meth capital of the United States. This lethal drug has since traveled across the country, but has not left San Diego. Programs such as the Alcohol and Other Drug Studies at City College set out to train the students to make a difference and counsel others dealing with their addictions.

According to Zizzo, “City College’s biggest contribution to this documentary was our students who were willing to share their stories. Many struggle with regret and shame and they were very brave to face these feelings and share publicly so that others could learn.”

Wendy Zizzo received her clinical training in Pharmacy School at University of California, San Francisco involved in an elective rotation at the Haight-Ashbury Free Medical Clinic’s Drug Detoxification before joining the AODS Program at City College.

The Alcohol and Other Drugs Studies Program at City College has been in place since 1990 and is the only community college program in the San Diego area that is a fully state-accredited. Also, City College trains more Alcohol and Drug Counselors than any other college in the San Diego area. Any student who effectively completes the program at City College is directly eligible for an entry level job as a counselor. A full-time student can complete the program within a year of training, including two semesters and a summer session.

For more information on the “Crystal Darkness” campaign, you can visit the website at www.crystaldarkness.com or call (877) No2Meth (662-6384) for immediate assistance.