The other night I was watching a PBS special on Crystal Meth. It traced the historical use of meth, from its use as an alternative drug to becoming the greatest single drug problem in the West. When Meth first came onto the scene in the early 80's, the government was highly concerned with battling the use of cocaine and heroin, and did not view Meth as a threat. Meth's largest component is ephedrine, which for a very long time, was not regulated. Meth manufacturers were able to purchase literal tons of the powder. The government did not catch onto this fact until the early 90's. Once ephedrine was regulated, illegal drug manufacturers began to use pseudoephedrine, which is nearly the same chemical makeup and functions the same in meth. Pseudoephedrine is the active ingredient in Sudafed and most other cold medicines. It can also be legally obtained. Only recently has the government passed regulations regarding the sale of pseudoephedrine. Why? Because the large pharmaceutical companies have extreme financial interest in continuing to sell large amounts of their products. Now, just about anywhere you go, it is necessary to purchase products containing pseudoephedrine directly from the pharmacy counter. Also, you are required to provide identification and are only allowed to purchase up to two boxes.
However, these measures are too little, too late. The damage has already been done. Meth irreversibly changes the brain chemistry of users. It changes to dopamine receptors (pleasure centers) of the brain to accept meth. Also, horrific physical changes beset meth users.
The greatest drug problem facing my clients is meth use. You can tell within a minute who is or has been a meth user. Their skin is honestly yellow. It is chaulky and sallow. They are often covered in sores. Around their eyelids turns a dark purple and their eyes are perpetually watering. Meth users' gums and teeth decay over time. They often lose drastic amounts of weight and are severly depressed, particularly if they are trying to kick the habit. They are generally unable to eat and often suffer seizures as they withdraw.
To see the failure of the government in battling this drug, you only need to walk down to civic park or talk to any social service provider. It is really a tragedy.