The stereotypical drug addict portrayed on TV and in the minds of most Americans is usually a white or black male under the age of 25, homeless, dangerous, and clearly identified as an addict by his criminal behavior or psychotic demeanor. Crystal meth addicts – many don’t even have a picture of what that looks like, but assumes that he or she would be much like the original stereotype. The average American wouldn’t assume that a crystal meth addict would be in their mid-50s, happily married for decades, and financially stable with no criminal record at all.
Perhaps that’s why the case of Charles and Deborah Harley are so important to talk about. This middle aged couple appeared to the casual observer to be well-adjusted and “normal.” No one would have even considered them as possible candidates for the development of crystal meth addiction. Aged 55 and 54, respectively, the two have been married for a long time, neither has a criminal record of any kind, both have high school educations and good reputations in the community. So how did it happen?
According to the couple, both of them have been hiding issues with illicit substances for decades. Though a full blown addiction never developed in their 20s and 30s, they both knew that they had an issue with drugs. For Deborah, it was amphetamines, a substance she says she experimented with since the early ‘80s. For Charles, his primary issues were with both marijuana and cocaine, a problem he’s had since his 20s.
If the problem had been hidden for so long, what brought it to light now? Apparently, it was a new regulation put in place at local businesses that monitored the purchase of products containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, one of the primary ingredients in crystal meth. The couple had made regular purchases of the drug that put them on the radar of local authorities. A search warrant was granted based on these purchases and executed by the local drug enforcement team.
Though the Harleys initially said that they purchased the drugs to treat their allergies, they were sentenced to two years on probation for possession of methamphetamine and maintenance of a drug house. The couple were both remorseful and embarrassed to find themselves in court for drug charges.
Said Charles Harley: “You’re never too old to be foolish. I apologize to the court and my family.”