As tens of thousands continue to die annually from opioid overdoses, bestselling author Sam Quinones says another addiction epidemic, potentially even more devastating, is spreading in America, and threatening to impose a profound economic and human cost on America.
The UC Berkeley graduate says the pandemic is focusing on a powerful new form of methamphetamine. As with past drug crises, the spread of P2P methamphetamine across America is fueled by economic forces, Quinons writes in his new book, The Less Than Us: America’s True Tales and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth. In the ever-evolving drug trade, smugglers seek innovations in technology, manufacturing, and distribution to avoid law enforcement and maximize profits.
But this burgeoning new methamphetamine industry has consequences like never before. Among other things, Quinones argues controversially that the widespread availability of P2P methamphetamine has driven increasing numbers of people living in homeless camps across the United States, including the Bay Area and Quinones’ home city of Los Angeles.
Unlike earlier “party” methamphetamine made with ephedrine, the ingredient in cold medicine, this more toxic version, made from widely available synthetic chemicals, quickly causes psychosis, paranoia, and other schizophrenia-like symptoms that deprive users of basic instincts for survival. life. He adds that it essentially turns users into “walking dead” in real life, who just want to be in places where methamphetamine is available.
“To me, tent camps look like methamphetamine colonies,” Quinones said. “These are places where you can hide away from the world, but you are near the steroids because everyone has them.”
Advocates for the homeless said Quinones’ comments ignore data showing skyrocketing housing costs are a no. 1 The reason why more and more people are forced to live on the streets.
But as much as Quinones has been criticized for oversimplifying the issue of homelessness or promoting a sensational story about the next “super drug,” even a critical review in the Washington Post said the former Los Angeles Times journalist is “the best big-picture analyst for America’s addictive drug markets.” “. The paper also said that Quinones, who first covered the crack epidemic for the Stockton Registry in the late 1980s, offers a compelling look at recent shifts in the drug market — “from poppy-based heroin to much more powerful fentanyl-based, and from ephedrine-based methamphetamine to a productive P2P version.” Widely.
Quinones’ 2015 bestselling film, Dreamland, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for helping Americans understand the connection between the prescription boom and the drug dealers fueling heroin use. With “Less Of Us,” Quinones introduces people to the P2P methamphetamine consumer pipeline, which he said is leading to new levels of desperation. Here he talks about this pipeline.
When did methamphetamine containing ephedrine become popular?
Previous manufacturers of methamphetamine were Hells Angels and biker gangs. They were using a very complicated and smelly method. The ephedrine method was in all respects more efficient and effective. (Mexican smugglers) started making it in such a way as to industrialize it.
But at some point, did the authorities start cracking down on the import of ephedrine?
Around 2005 or 2006, they were reducing the amount of ephedrine they allowed in the country. This has prompted the smuggling world to switch to a method that uses a substance called phenyl-2propanone, which is made from chemicals that are mostly legal, synthetic, accessible and cheap. It is also highly toxic.
By 2017, P2P meth is in the Midwest. In 2018 and 2019, it ended up in New England. All of this is possible because traffickers have an unlimited amount of chemicals that come through the western ports of Mexico. Smugglers managed to cover the country with methamphetamine, as they had done with fentanyl. This is the era of synthetic drugs.
You talk about how, with the drop in the price of methamphetamine, it became almost as widely available as fast food. How did one of your sources, an expert in the science of habits, say that it fuels people’s addiction?
I think this is the key to marketing junk food (and other potentially addictive products like porn, gambling, and social media). You always want people to be easy to access, so there is no “friction” in using people. I think, consciously or unconsciously, that the world of human trafficking in Mexico has achieved something like this, with fentanyl and methamphetamine. With the massive supply of these drugs, they have reduced the “friction” in using those drugs.
Your new book has become controversial because you argue that the availability of P2P methamphetamine coincides with an increase in homelessness in cities across the country. How can you say that the experience of using isotope methyl additives to this?
By my reports, methamphetamine containing ephedrine is a party drug. You can be social and down for days. Over time, you will notice a decrease. P2P-based methamphetamine varies greatly. Use can be accompanied by a severe and rapid onset of schizophrenia symptoms. It drives people crazy, and they can become homeless very quickly and in their homes in tent camps.
Do you have data supporting the effect of P2P addiction on homelessness?
This is the street. No one has studied this in any depth. Everyone is so focused on housing, that we don’t care the way drugs on the street have radically changed.
What would you say to back off from experts who say homelessness is a primary driver of the lack of affordable housing?
People will want to stay on the street and continue to use, regardless of whether or not there is housing available. One thing that isotope methyl is doing is redirecting the powerful drive for survival toward finding a drug at any cost. These drugs seem to do this more intensely than, say, alcohol or cocaine. …. You see people in tents in the Midwest in the middle of winter. These drugs have completely changed the chemistry of the brain.
The crack was bad, but I had one guy, now running an errand in L.A., who told me there was still something inside of you, telling you, “You should get away from this.” With this meth, it seems to dissolve completely. You really need time away from stimulants before you can allow your mind to heal.
Title: Author of “The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth” and “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opioid Epidemic.”
residence: Los Angeles area
education: He holds a BA in Economics and American History from the University of California, Berkeley
Five things about Sam Quinones
He promoted punk rock concerts at the Barrington Hall Co-op where he lived while attending UC Berkeley.
As a crime reporter for Stockton Record from 1988 to 1992, he wrote about the crack epidemic.
He worked as a freelance journalist in Mexico for 10 years, then at the Los Angeles Times until 2014.
He has authored four non-fiction books, and won a National Book Critics Circle Award for his 2015 book “Dreamland.” He was a finalist for the 2021 Non-Fiction Award for “The Least of Us.”
Just completed a children’s book about the true story of a village in Mexico where everyone makes lollipops.