The US meth crisis
Together with opioid painkillers, US is facing another epidemic: methamphetamine abuse. How the 2017 DEA resource guide explains, this stimulant that comes as pills as well as in powder, and which go under different names like Meth, Speed, Ice, Shards, Ice, Bikers Coffee, Stove Top, Tweak, Yaba, Trash, Chalk, Crystal Crank, Shabu, is also available under prescription as Desoxyn, to treat obesity and ADHD. Normally Meth is taken in crystals, quite similar to small pieces of glass.
In spite of cocaine which comes in leaves and then it worked to obtain a paste which is soon after refined, Meth predominance is due to the ease with which this drug is made. The special ingredient required is called pseudoephedrine, easily available 'cause is normally used in medications to stop dripping noses.
The production process also requires acetone, lithium, toluene, hydrochloric acid, phosphorus, sodium hydroxide, sulfuric acid, and anhydrous ammonia. All of them can be easily purchased in home improvement stores or pharmacies.
According to the New York Daily News the most common production process is called "shake and bake", which involves placing active ingredients inside a common water bottle and shaking them vigorously.
The reaction produces crystals in just a few minutes.
Crystal meth is considered the most addictive substance available in the drugs market. Its effect is a hit in dopamine levels in the brain that can reach at least 1,250 units, which is quite much more than the one reached by cocaine.
According to DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) Mexican drug trafficking organizations have become the primary manufacturers and distributors of Meth to cities across the US, including Hawaii. Domestic clandestine laboratories also produce and distribute meth but usually on a smaller scale.
The struggle against meth diffusion, according to The Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act adopted by the US Congress in 2005, requires retailers of non-prescription products containing pseudo- ephedrine, ephedrine, or phenylpropanolamine to place these products behind the counter or in a locked cabinet. Purchasers must show their identity card and sign a logbook each time they buy them. It also limited sales of pseudoephedrine to 7.5 grams per customer in a 30-day period and required pharmacies to track sales.
In terms of quantities seized in 2016, San Diego scored 20.000 pounds of meth per year. But California is not the only state afflicted with this terrible epidemic, as long as Oregon with Portland and all the states along the Mexican border. In this area, agents are seizing from 10 to 20 times the amounts of meth they used to seize ten years ago.
Mexican drug cartels do not traffic in the US only crystal meth but even chemical ingredients to produce it. Cartels have introduced in the US huge quantities of this drug, which is also much purer and stronger than the one locally produced. Nearly 100% pure for just 5 dollars a dose. The oversupply of meth is so big that local dealer is offering the drug on credit.
High doses of this drug can elevate body temperature to dangerous, sometimes lethal, levels, and cause convulsion and even cardiovascular collapse and death. Meth use may also cause extreme anorexia, memory loss, and several dental problems. A high dose may result in death stroke, heart attack, or multiple organ problems caused by overheating.
In 2015 in the US nearly 6.000 people died from stimulant use, a 255% increase from 2005 according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This means an 11% of deaths for overdose whose responsibility is to address the misuse of stimulants.
In 2016 in Oregon 232 people died from an overdose of meth. This is two times the number of deaths for an overdose of heroin. In some cities like Portland meth is the only drug related to drug arrests, and also the one correlated with serious crime, according to Portland Police office. (cm)
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