Sam Quinones’ The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth brings us up to date on the disastrous drug developments of the past half-dozen years.
Heroin and fentanyl:
The good news … Heroin has largely disappeared from much of America.
The bad news: That’s because heroin has been replaced by the synthetic anesthetic fentanyl, which is much stronger and deadlier.
The worse news: Fentanyl is so cheap that drug dealers have taken to sprinkling it into most of the other drugs they sell, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, because a dash of fentanyl makes all drugs more euphoric. Plus, it’s extraordinarily addictive, so you can become a fentanyl addict without even knowing you have been ingesting it. You just want your dealer to sell you more of that good stuff.
On the other hand, you probably won’t be a fentanyl addict for long because just a tiny excess amount can kill you. And drug dealers aren’t good at quality control when mixing white powders. When stepping on their product, Quinones says, local dealers invariably rely on $29.88 Magic Bullet blenders, which are great at mixing liquids for smoothies, but are terrible at mixing powders, so nobody can tell how much fentanyl wound up in your particular dose.
Therefore, Quinones warns that the era of recreational drug use is over:
That concept belongs to a past when drugs were far more expensive, harder to procure and less potent and more forgiving…. Now, every line of cocaine, every “pill” [counterfeit OxyContins are often fentanyl] at a party is an invitation to Russian roulette. On the streets of America, there’s no such thing as a long-term fentanyl user.
Fortunately, in 2019 the Chinese government banned fentanyl manufacturing. Unfortunately, Chinese companies responded by exporting the raw ingredients to Mexican labs to manufacture and then sneak into America. …
Good news … Crack, which was such a disaster for America in the late 1980s, is fading in popularity.
The bad news: Mexican crystal meth has taken over from crack. Meth, long the low-rent white drug, has spread to Latinos and now blacks.
The worse news: Meth is now really cheap because huge Mexican drug labs have replaced the old ephedrine-based meth with a high-volume recipe that Quinones calls P2P meth that can be made from common industrial chemicals without requiring any controlled substances like ephedrine.
The worst news: While the old ephedrine meth was a party drug, the poor man’s powder cocaine, the new meth can much more rapidly inflict monstrous brain-damaging psychotic side effects resembling schizophrenia, such as paranoia, hearing voices, and the destruction of memory and personality. These adverse events can set in within weeks of starting on modern Mexican meth and often don’t begin to fade until after six months or a year of abstinence.
Modern craziness and dysfunction:
Although Quinones doesn’t cover meth’s bad impact on Native Americans, I wonder whether the rapid decline in mental acuity caused by the new meth might have something to do with the sharp fall in average SAT scores among students identifying as American Indian over the past half decade.
Another difficult question is how much are the new drugs contributing to the political craziness of our times. Quinones notes:
As I talked with people across the country, it occurred to me that the P2P meth that created delusional, paranoid, erratic people living on the streets must have some effect on police shootings. …
Police shootings doubled [in Albuquerque] after the new meth arrived, with 60 percent of the dead having meth in their system.
“We knew when the Mexican meth hit because people went crazier. Before that, police shootings were not common,” Cox told me. “Now there’s this new category of people starting shootouts with APD SWAT when they have one bullet and acting like they thought it would work.” …
How much is the rise in black-on-black shootings since Ferguson in 2014 related to the new drugs? …
And what about the bizarre-looking Antifa crazies of Portland? Quinones did most of his reporting in places like Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia, but he mentions Portland in passing as having been hit hard.
The drug scourge is accelerating the trend towards decreasing IQs. (That trend is primarily due to smarter women having fewer kids, modern medicine preventing Darwinian selection, and increased immigration from lower-IQ countries.) Not that the woke acknowledge IQ or differences in IQ between large groups of people, but reality is what it is.
Even without drugs, IQ researcher Dr Edward Dutton estimates that the average IQ in western countries will drop to about 85 from the current 100 by the year 2100. That 15 point drop in IQ represents the difference between say a schoolteacher and a doctor. It is also the difference between the current black and white averages in the US (systemic racism anyone?).
Modern drugs are making some people crazy, some dead (drug overdose deaths in the US are up 30% on last year), and hardly anyone is talking about this new reality.
UPDATE: Nick, from a letter to the editor some years ago:
Young people today take mind altering drugs and are surprised when their minds are altered.