Sheriff: tweakers compulsive seek out ancient indian arrowheads

I recently blogged the police reports from Victoria, British Columbia about crystal meth addicts who soothe their nervous, drug-filled energy by compulsively stripping bicycles to their component parts.

Now comes the report of a sheriff in Arkansas who says that the local tweakers occupy their nerves by methodically searching nearby fields for indian arrowheads. The sheriff says that many of the tweakers he busts have large collections of indian arrowheads in their homes.

Tony Young of Velvet Ridge says the sheriff is on to something. Young is in jail awaiting trial on a meth charge. He says looking for arrowheads gives people wired on meth something to do. To pay for his legal defense, Young sold his arrowhead collection to a local dealer.

Young says that many nights he found himself in fields full of fellow arrowhead hunters and many of them were high on meth.

Arkansas State archeologist Ann Early says she's seen meth users collecting arrowheads in the Ozarks. She says it is troubling that they have taken to collecting Indian artifacts.


(Thanks, JohnR!)

Update: Slate's Jack Shafer recently covered this phenomenon and get the word that neurologists call this behavior "punding": "I received a polite e-mail from Joshua Kershen of the Tufts-New England Medical Center. He informed me of the neurological concept of "punding," the restless and repetitive assembling and disassembling of mechanical devices (watches, carburetors, radios), the obsessive lining-up of small objects, or the picking at one's own skin. The phrase was coined to describe the 'prolonged, purposeless, and stereotyped behaviour in chronic amphetamine users,' according to this scientific paper (additional punding papers can be found on PubMed). Punding is also observed in people experiencing dopamine excess states, such as when patients are overtreated with Parkinson's disease medication. Because meth, like amphetamine, causes a flood of dopamine, it stands to reason that a meth user would pund."

Update 2: More on the guy who sold his arrowheads to finance his meth-bust defense here (Thanks, Greg!)