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Methamphetamine use has become a widespread epidemic stemming from the west coast, specifically Oregon.

This is an epidemic not just from the drug use but the impacts this drug use has on society because of the addicts. The problems that make meth use an epidemic are the crime waves and family abuse followed by meth addiction. In Oregon meth addicts commit 85% of the property crime in the state. The children and spouses of meth addicts are those hardest hit by this epidemic. In 2005 half of the children in the Oregon foster care system were there because of meth one way or another. Oregon is where the meth epidemic started and was quite possibly hit hardest by this epidemic. Meth use became an epidemic during the 1990s spreading from Oregon in 1992, but by 1997 the epidemic had impacted many states west of the Mississippi. The meth epidemic has seen its ups and downs over the years but continues to be a serious problem to this day. This rises and falls in meth addiction can be directly attributed to the purity of meth continuously rising and falling. Meth producers and traffickers are those responsible for the purity of meth on American streets because overall they hold control of the drug and its purity on the largest scale. Once people found a way to cook meth in their own home through the use of the shake and bake method, meth began to also be distributed on smaller levels. This shake and bake process is so simple that you can get all the materials and chemicals needed in most any convenience store. With ephedrine or pseudoephedrine being the only essential chemical component of the process a super lab was no longer needed to produce the powerful drug meth. Family of meth addicts being the hardest hit by this epidemic, because their loved ones are in a sense stolen away from them once they begin the horrible cycle of meth addiction. Meth is such a strong and addictive drug most people dont realize how it is destroying their bodies and their lives until it has done extensive damage to both. Chronic meth users can easily be picked out by how aged they look and the rotting of their teeth enamel. Some addicts feel the urge to pick at their face leaving open wounds and large scars. People who smoke meth instead of snorting it will eventually loose their teeth because over time the meth destroys the enamel of their teeth and they rot out. We can see how children of meth addicts are affected by this epidemic, especially in Oregon, by looking at the number of children placed in foster care. In 2005 fifty percent of children in Oregons foster care system were placed there in one way or another because of meth. These childrens lives are impacted greatly by their parents addiction to the drug. Carol Chervenak, child abuse examiner, saw and spoke with many of these children placed in foster care as a result of meth. She described one girl was in a house where her father cooked meth and taught her the process so well that she could explain every step in detail. She was also subjected to sexual abuse and witnessed much domestic violence, which is not good at all for children. These children affected by the meth epidemic and placed in foster homes are essentially meth orphans because their parents were stolen from them by the addiction of meth. It is easy to see how meth addiction tears familys to pieces, physically and emotionally. The widespread effects of meth use on more than just the addicts themselves explain government intervention.

The government has spent years battling for meth legislation trying to solve this epidemic. The government had to take a different approach to solve the meth problem than they had taken with other hard drugs before. Gene Haislip, former head of chemical control at the DEA, took the approach of controlling the chemical components that went into meth production. These chemicals are ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, and are essential to cooking meth. The government had used the same strategy to rid of Quaaludes, which was accomplished by controlling the chemicals needed to make the drug. The government then began going to the factories that produced the base chemicals for meth production to urge them to stop selling them to illegitimate businesses and drug cartels. In 1986 the DEA tried to get a bill passed requiring distributors of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine to check their customers identitys as well as sharing their sales records with the DEA. This bill ran into trouble because pharmaceutical companies were opposed to this idea because it would cut into the business profits of their multibillion dollar operation. Because of this opposition the bill had to be amended to exempt the chemical as long as it was sold and manufactured as a pharmaceutical. When the DEA intercepted 3.4 metric tons of ephedrine on a plane destined for Mexico City they realized that drug kingpins had gone right to the source of the 9 factories that produce ephedrine to obtain it for cooking their meth in super labs. Eventually Congress gave the DEA the power to regulate ephedrine in cold medicine, but not pseudoephedrine. In 2006 Congress passed the Comeback Meth Act, which mandated that pseudoephedrine be sold from behind the counter nationwide and that purchasers were required to give their identity. Politics has been effected by the meth epidemic because it has been an uphill battle for the DEA to pass bills needed to stop meth production. This is from the opposition of well funded pharmaceutical companies that did not want to lose the big business that they had. It was also an issue passing bills because congress being on the East coast could not directly see the impacts of the meth epidemic. It had yet to reach them so they were ignorant to the problem until late in the epidemic. The economy of the areas affected by the meth epidemic was weakened. This was because of the crime associated with meth use, from robbery to identity theft businesses and individuals were being affected by this epidemic negatively. This is because with rises in meth addiction comes crime waves. This is because those addicted to meth will do anything to get their next fix, likely not caring who they hurt in the process. Addicts stealing pseudoephedrine pills from stores for cooking meth also hurts the economy. The meth epidemic has not effected technology much at all. The meth epidemic effected the media by giving them a serious problem that they tried to expose to the rest of the world. This is an act of them trying to get outside assistance with a widespread problem many know nothing about.

The meth epidemic has effected medicine because it has made cold medicines harder to get for the consumer, but it is worth it because of the number of lives be saved. Restrictions on certain medicines is the best way to keep the base chemical for meth production out of the meth cooks hands. Oregon has taken the initiative to make pseudoephedrine a prescription pill like it was before 1976. This makes getting cold medicine more expensive and difficult for those in need. However the positive effect it has on the meth problem in Oregon makes it more than worth it. After this change crime overall has dropped in Oregon, especially meth related crime and arrests. The meth epidemic is a very severe social problem, and we need to pull together to find a permanent solution to prevent meth being produced and sold on American streets. Meth is such an addictive drug that one time use can cause addiction, which leads to a cycle of abuse and crime until the addict is either imprisoned or dead. The drug essentially takes over an addicts life, and the only thing they do day to day is search for a way to get their next high because that is the only way they can be happy. This is because meth use chemically alters the brain because of the extreme release of dopamine that cannot be found in any naturally occurring situation. The long term affects on society are serious and troubling. The meth problem will not go away until meth is permanently gone. These effects are seen in past or present meth addicts, and especially their familys and anyone else hurt by the crime and deceit associated with the drug. Beyond educating people about meth and taking personal initiative not to use the drug there is one major thing that needs to be done. The base chemicals, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, need to be taken off the market in any form that way meth cooks have no way to produce the drug. Without these base chemicals that are too complex for drug cartels to make, the meth epidemic could be put in the past. Then as a country we could work together to lighten the effects that meth use had in certain areas through treatment and education.