As many people in Illinois know, meth is a huge problem. In fact, in 2012 Illinois ranked 5th for meth related incidents. While this has diminished slightly in the past year, law enforcement is still constantly combating the production and use of the drug.
While trying to stifle the creation and use of any illegal substance is difficult, drugs like meth present a completely different dimension of challenges. It’s common knowledge that just about anyone can make it with the proper know-how, with many of its ingredients being readily available at a neighborhood Wal-Mart.
One of these ingredients is pseudoephedrine, which is found in several nasal decongestants. While nasal decongestants already require an ID to purchase, a new law is being proposed that would mean that nasal decongestants would require a prescription.
While I welcome the attempts to crack down on meth abuse, especially since it is such an epidemic in Illinois, I question whether making drugs like Claritin-D and Allegra-D require a prescription will be effective enough to necessitate such legislation. While I have no doubt that it will make the cooking of meth more difficult to some degree, it seems reasonable to wonder if it will in fact just create yet another obstacle that most meth dealers will eventually overcome.
Many people will find a problem with this legislation because it will “make law abiding citizens have to suffer” and I suppose there is some merit to that. I’ve never had allergies, but I have had some fairly spontaneous colds, and having to go to a doctor in order to buy a simple nasal decongestant would be very inconvenient.
If making my life more inconvenient meant significantly stamping out the use of meth in Illinois however, I wouldn’t mind in the slightest. That being said, serious meth dealers could still drive across state borders to easily obtain the drugs they need. If not that, then they could likely enlist the help of others to get the prescriptions and drugs they need for them. After all, it’s being done right now with other prescription drugs, why not nasal decongestants?
In the meantime, it’s possible that requiring a prescription for nasal decongestants could even hurt local police officer’s attempts at catching meth dealers. Currently, anyone that buys drugs containing pseudoephedrine must give their identification information. This has not only led to many boxes of drugs containing pseudoephedrine not being sold, as someone can only buy it so often, but it also has led to several arrests. To introduce mandatory prescriptions would mean losing this valuable tactic.
Expanding on that technology would in fact be a much better way of combating meth. For example, improving it so that drug stores can better coordinate their information would prevent meth dealers from attempting to buy pseudoephedrine at multiple locations, a common practice. From there, developing better rehabilitation programs so that abusers could be cured of their addiction instead of just thrown in jail would prevent repeat offenses and would go much further to diminishing the meth problem.
There is no “perfect” solution that would fix the meth problem in this state, but there are better ones than others. While making nasal decongestants require a prescription would help, there are better solutions that would be more effective. When you then consider the inconvenience it would cause those with various health ailments that aren’t buying such medication to abuse, it seems best that lawmakers try different avenues for combating meth in Illinois.
Nick Ulferts is a junior English education major and columnist for The Vidette. Any quesitons or comments regarding his column can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.