One of the most common yet destructive illegal drugs today is "meth."
Short for methamphetamine, also called "speed," it has a profound effect on users. Years ago it was available in various "cousin" forms as a prescription medication for weight control. It now has become a common abusive street drug typically manufactured by a method called shake and bake.
Meth can be cooked at home, a car or most anywhere. In spite of risk of explosion, toxic gases and fire, the desire to use and sell it tempts many. This dangerous recipe when taken by mouth in powder form produces an over-powering charged, energetic and exhilarated feeling, and then a desire to repeat the euphoria. People develop a tolerance quickly and demand increased doses. Soon, they use it merely to prevent feelings of depression, rejection and abject misery. It is reported to be one of the most difficult chemical substances from which to withdraw.
Unfortunately, an attempt in last year's legislative session failed, by a close vote, to make the key ingredient, pseudoephedrine "prescription only." One can guess that the pharmaceutical industry, with a strong lobbying effort, influenced by a strong profit motive exerted pressure in preventing it from becoming prescription only.
Fortunately, with rising negative public sentiment, pharmacies now are limiting the sales of single agent pseudoephedrine products. Some druggists have advertised refusal to sell a certain type of pseudoephedrine. Other pharmacies only sell these products to known or existing customers while some supply this drug voluntarily by prescription only. One new product is the development of an alternative medication to Sudafed marketed by two companies in which Sudafed is altered to make it very difficult to convert to a street drug.
Demands for mind-altering drugs are immense. Drug abuse is a bewildering, maddening and complex issue. Meth is characteristic of a societal plague. It is bewildering in that it is logically difficult to understand why one wishes to invite mind-altering feelings at such a monetary and physical cost; maddening in the sense of the financial cost to society and waste of the quality of human life; and complex by presenting no simple answers.
Yet, when condensed to its simplest elements, there are some fundamental principles in a reasonable approach to the problem.
With meth, the strong demand is supplied largely by local production. As pharmacies are arbitrarily now beginning to develop regulations regarding the sale of such medication forms, so also "do-it-yourself" producers will adapt to other methods. Already in response to recent sales restrictions, alternative combination products containing a certain amount of pseudoephedrine are becoming popular purchase items.
The complexity of this issue extends, as well, to the pharmaceutical industry and a segment of society that exerts pressure on legislatures to prevent these illegal drug precursors from becoming "prescription only." Furthermore, as long as demand exists, supply will occur. Now it is largely produced locally. If not close to home there will be other potential sources, possibly even south of the border.
We are like a dog chasing his tail, looking for fixes to stop production and marketing of illicit psychotropics. Somehow in our society we wait until it's broken to fix it. It's now broken. There is a widespread breakdown of the family unit and to a significant degree a laxity of moral values. Many youths lack the value of education. There is insufficient role modeling and a lack of long-term goals.
Getting to a basic issue, the epidemic of drug addiction, while we look for that fix, what is really necessary is a concerted effort to deal with prevention.
How do we achieve control of drug abuse and for that matter a dramatically high teen pregnancy rate? The same way we produce confident, achieving wholesome youths.