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Since 2006, medicines containing pseudoephedrine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Sudafed and Pfizer’s Advil Cold & Sinus, have been banned from store shelves. The reasoning was that because pseudoephedrine was one of the main ingredients in meth, restricting its purchase would cut down on meth use as well. Unfortunately, although this did work in the beginning, rates of meth use have begun to go back up.

For one thing, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are still available for purchase, just not in large amounts. It’s necessary to go to the pharmacy counter and show ID, and there’s a limit on how often you can buy more. However, this doesn’t stop multiple people from buying and stockpiling it.

Many people are turning elsewhere to get meth, rather than making their own. Once a home-cooked drug, meth production has turned into a full-scale international enterprise. In 2012, Mexican soldiers in Guadalajara found 15 tons of meth, seven tons of the chemicals used to make it, and a laboratory. This Mexican meth is both cheap and potent (at 80 percent purity as opposed to 50 percent before 2006), and Mexico is becoming the man source of meth for the U.S.  In fact, Mexican drug cartels are setting up shop in the United States, as in the case of one cartel that moved a cell into Nebraska right around the time the Sudafed ban went into effect.

The number of small meth labs (like the kind you’d find in a shed or garage) has decreased somewhat, which is good from a public safety standpoint, but a new method of making the drug has emerged. The “shake-and-bake” approach requires a relatively small number of pseudoephedrine pills, which are put into a two-liter soda bottle along with various household chemicals and shaken to combine. Although no cooking is involved, the combination of chemicals can cause fires and explosions if not handled properly.

In addition to the seeming failure of the Sudafed restrictions to curb meth use, critics say that the people who are really being punished are innocent sick people who would like to treat their colds. Pharmacies sometimes don’t carry pseudoephedrine at all, and if they do you’re bound by their hours of operation, frequently much shorter than that of a regular store. There is a push in some states to make pseudoephedrine prescription-only, which might cut down somewhat on its use in meth but would also cost people (and insurance companies) in trips to the doctor to procure a prescription. There are also some privacy concerns regarding the government tracking people’s purchases.

One bit of good news for people suffering from congestion is that there is a drug called Zephyred-­D, which makes a nasal decongestant with a drug called Tarex, which is a pseudoephedrine that contains meth-blocking technology. Nexafed is another pseudoephedrine product that sells itself as being meth-resistant.  It works by trapping the pseudoephedrine in a thick gel that forms when the tablet is placed in water or other solvents, meaning meth makers won’t be able to extract enough to be worth their time.

If you or a loved one need help to quit drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504.



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