Monday, December 12, 2005

No More Tricks for You, Drugs Bunny

The cop on Simpson's says this to Bart after a bad spell with drugs meant to help him focus. Ah, television, the other drug.

To me, people who took drugs in highschool were losers. They were the bad kids on the "other side" of the spectrum. They were loose, and loaded, and probably had a messed up home life. I didn't hate them or anything. They just weren't my crowd. I began to wonder my freshman year in college what seperated those people from me. I took socially condoned over-the-counter or doctor prescribed medications once in a while. And I didn't like 'em. I didn't like the reactions they had in my body. And these doctor authorized drugs come out all the time as dangerous-there are big lawsuits over putting holes in people's hearts, causing ulcers, killing people, etc. Merck's been in the news lately for complications with Vioxx. And a lot of the pain medications are addictive. So what's the difference?

My mom started taking something called Ma Huang a decade ago. It was labeled as an energy pill and was supposed to help people lose weight. Turns out it did more than that. She was up all night, for several nights, busy, busy, busy. It had a strong dose of a chemical found to be similar to ephedra. It was basically an herbal methamphetamine. Teenagers would use the stuff for all night rave parties. It wasn't illegal back then. Then some kids started dying from the stuff. My mom recognized the danger in it and stopped taking it.

But I've used ephedra before. There's an herb my ancestor's used called Brigham Tea. It's another herbal ephedra. It's great for colds. A chemical form of it-psuedoephedrine-is found in popular cold medications like Sudafed (and what would we do without Sudafed). But it's a small, safe dose. No organice grocery store is allowed to sell the (even safer) herbal form anymore. Funny thing is it actually grows wild in the desert out here in Utah.

Use of the chemical-and much stronger form of ephedra-methamphetamine-is up 300 percent from the past decade. And Congress has passed a bill (The Combat Meth Act) to crack down on its use. But now some legislators want to use meth as their excuse to keep the Patriot Act alive.

"The anti-meth legislation restricts and records the sale of medicines containing meth precursors, including pseudoephedrine, ephedrine and phenylpropanolamine; relocates those products behind the counter, requiring purchasers to show identification and sign a logbook; and allows legitimate consumers to get the medicine they need, but limits how much one person can buy to 9 grams a month and 3.6 grams in a single day."

My point isn't to point out stupid government legislation, or government abuse of power-though that comes out anyway. My point is that these drug users aren't necessarily a part of the seedy underground. Some are, but some are us. We are drug users. We are susceptible. But I wonder if it is the government's responsibility to keep tabs on our problem, or our own responsibility to inform ourselves. We are not all doctors, or lawyers, or law makers, or experts on every drug, but it doesn't seem the government is either. Is it the drug that is bad or the use of it? Is it the people who are bad who take drugs? And should they be locked up or given help? And what should we do? Keep tabs on every American taking substances used in these drugs, or who take condoned medications? I'm not willing to go as far as Scientology, but let's face it we've got a drug problem-and it isn't the use of it, but the lack of knowledge, the marketing schemes, the AMA in cahoots with the drug companies, the pharmaceutical reps to the meth pushers on the street. The difference is we know the drugs on the street are already labeled dangerous.

3 comments:

Esperanza said...

Very good deconstruction of the suburban drug scene. Marketing schemes pull a lot of people in, drugs are pushed at anyone half way emotionally anxious about life, I don't think the government should regulate on everything, but...also, think there is a place for drugs, I don't know if they wouldn't have been invented/discoverd if they weren't of some use...its a tricky one.

SJ said...

The thing is I am for more regulation in the hope it keeps us a little more safe, but right now it doesn't seem there is as much regulation as there is under-the-table handshakes among the FDA, the AMA, and these big drug companies.

I do believe in the use of drugs-though I'd rather not use them at all if possible, but they can be used for good purposes. But how are we to know what works and what puts a hole in our heart right now? And don't even get me started on practically non-existent knowledge and application of herbal medicine. Humans have been using herbs for thousands of years, yet most any modern doctor is convinced they are dangerous or inneffective, but are sold on big drug companies new and untested drugs.

Sherpa said...

Personally, I think the "big company drug business" needs to be reformed.....but so does the herbal medicine sector. I've got three first cousins who are fighting meth addictions. It affects us all at some point.