11.11.2005

The meth labs among us

Yes, yes, yes--I know that my body's expulsion of mucus is a way of ridding itself of toxins and speeding recovery. But still. There comes a point at which nose clearing and hacking and sneezing cease to be anything approximating therapeutic.

That point came for me last evening, so I went to Walgreens to score myself some Wal-bitussen or Wal-phed or other Wal-something that would, at least temporarily, dry things out and allow my hands to be tissue-free for upwards of five minutes. I propelled myself down the Cold/Cough Remedies aisle, picked up a few boxes to investigate whether they were what I needed, and, deciding they weren't, moved on a few feet.

And then I saw it: the wall of faux package fronts, each one bearing a picture of the product in question, its price, and the instruction to take it to the pharmacy counter--during regular pharmacy hours--to procure the real thing. Now, we've all heard about how pharmacies are taking measures to restrict the number of pseudoephedrine-containing OTC drugs someone can buy at once, given the ingredient's status as a necessary component of crystal meth, but it was jarring to see the practice in place at the corner Walgreens.

As I pulled a Wal-bi-something tag from the array and brought it to the pharmacist, several questions occurred to me: how does the pharmacy staff determine who does and doesn't get this stuff? If I were to come in at 8 p.m., would I be hopelessly out of luck in terms of buying a potion to quell my sniffles? Has every Walgreens store taken this measure, or does Hayes Valley seem like a particularly meth lab-prone neighborhood?

And, perhaps most astoundingly, how can it be at all economical to use a drug as expensive as, say, Benadryl as the base of what's supposed to be a cheap high? Have you seen the price of Benadryl lately? I have to assume that the other components of meth (which are, what?, Drain-O and kitty litter and antifreeze or something) are inexpensive enough to be able to make up the price difference.

Maybe it's my congested head talking, or the 60 mg of pseudoephedrine hydrochloride in the dose of Non-Drowsy Day Time Liquid Caps I just took, but it seems a sad and sorry commentary on modern society that we've managed to make something as simple as cold medicine so wildly complicated. It's amazing to me that at the ripe age of 31, I can actually long for the good old days when it was possible to pluck a package of decongestants off the shelf and down a few with some oj and not have to give even a passing thought to how they might be put to nefarious use.

1 comment:

aBhantiarna Solas said...

Hi Em ... I'm suffering with you, and can tell you that even here in the bland burbs of Manassas the same restrictions exist. Sad and frustrating at the same time.