ROSE NOLEN: Fight against drugs becoming worse, affecting Missouri's future

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 9:13 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I think it is unfortunate Missouri lawmakers have to consider requiring people to have to get doctor's prescriptions in order to purchase some cold and allergy medications because they contain the drug pseudoephedrine which is used to manufacture methamphetamine. The state has already taken some steps to curb the abuse of these medications. It has limited the quantities individuals can purchase, required photo identification in order to buy them and mandated that they be moved behind pharmacy counters. Still, meth labs continue to be a problem across the state.

Nevertheless, this action seems to be another example of the innocent being punished for the behavior of those determined to break the law. Laboratories that produce methamphetamine are dangerous to communities and contaminate the houses where the drug is produced.

The drug itself is an extremely strong mood-altering stimulant that affects the central nervous system. The substance can be smoked, orally ingested, snorted or injected. Meth users experience euphoria. They enjoy a great sense of well-being which often causes them to binge on the drug in order to maintain that feeling.

The reasons people turn to drugs and alcohol to attempt to enhance their lives are as diverse as the individuals who make those choices. Almost all of us have had a friend or family member fall into addiction. But it is only in recent years that some of us have come to realize drug usage is as rampant in Missouri as it is elsewhere. Most of our lives we have had an idealized mental image of the state as a quiet peaceful valley lined with family farms bustling with healthy livestock.

But apparently illegal drugs are as available in our state as they are in New York or California. Our drug users come in all ages from children to the elderly and from all social and economic classes. Marijuana is our most popular drug of choice, followed by prescription drugs, such as painkillers and anti-depressants, according to a Office of National Drug Control Policy study. Hard drugs such as methamphetamine and cocaine have a wealth of buyers, as well. Alcohol, which for many years was the Great Enemy, continues to claim victims, many of whom are adolescents.

With all the money and resources we pour into the effort to wipe out drug addiction, the only thing we seem to be able to count on is that a new, more deadly drug will emerge on the scene to add to the problem. The countless number of treatment centers and rehabilitation programs hardly seem to be making a dent in the population of drug abusers. Furthermore, they seem to be getting addicted at a younger age all the time. This seems to me to be a good time for us to let the world take care of its own problems while we take care of ours. A significant segment of our future leaders are already addicted to drugs as children, which does not bode well for the state or the country.

And certainly the education system has enough to contend with, so it is unrealistic to imagine that it can play a major role in the drug war. I think that somehow a whole new strategy will be needed before we can see any improvement in the drug statistics. Adding irresponsible parenting to the mix makes any resolution to the situation seem hopeless.

I sometimes jokingly tell students that the reason I was able to grow up not having to say "no" to drugs is because my parents said "no" before me. But actually that's true. Drug dealers were not allowed to hang around outside my school. No one who was not a student or a member of the faculty was allowed to hang around the school. People in those days called that 'being responsible.'

After we all agree that times have changed, maybe we could agree to rectify some of the other things that have changed also and shouldn't have.

We can still dream, anyway.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at

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