My problem with drugs

Dear diary,

I write to you this evening to bare my soul.

To be honest, frank and 100 percent truthful.

There’s no more side-stepping my problem with drugs.

You see, diary, there are many people in this city, state, nation and world addicted to drugs. They can control your life, leave you helpless and a slave to their enchanting effects. They can also kill you.

Which is precisely why I’ve never taken drugs, unless you count alcohol. (You don’t count alcohol, do you, diary? We can’t be friends if you do.)

See, my problem with drugs is not an addiction of my own but that of others – and the way it affected my life, freedom and self-esteem tonight. I was denied an over-the-counter decongestant I’ve used for years because others use it to produce methamphetamine.

It went something like this, and of course I’m using real names: I walked into Walgreens, 1014 Montague Ave., Greenwood, S.C., 29649-1450, and told the pharmacy technician I would like some Sudafed. She then referred me to the pharmacist named Stacy, since pharmacists have to approve the sale of Sudafed due to druggies manufacturing meth with it.

Just a procedural thing, I thought. In the past, I’ve had to show I.D. and sign a log so officials can monitor the number of times I’ve purchased Sudafed recently. When I was a crime reporter in North Carolina, I wrote a story on “smurfing” – the act of drug-users dispatching their cronies to different pharmacies around town in order to buy as much Sudafed as possible while honoring the two-package legal limit. It blew my mind at the time – why would someone be able to legally buy even two boxes of Sudafed?

Tonight, though, Justin Schoenberger – a single father with a college degree, career and no criminal record – was not allowed to purchase even one box.

Diary, Stacy – who somehow reminded me of a portobello mushroom – did not even ask why I wanted Sudafed specifically. If she had, she would have learned it was because a doctor told me it was the best decongestant for me to use since it wouldn’t affect my blood sugar. As you know, dear diary, I am a type 1 diabetic. Since you have this information, you technically know more about me than Stacy – the pharmacist who used her “discretion” to reject my request for Sudafed.

“I do not feel comfortable selling it to you,” Stacy said with a muted snort. Her cohort, Alexis, who would later point out she has a doctorate’s degree, proved to be just as warm and flattering when she voiced her support for Stacy’s decision.

Separately, each had the customer service skills of a cashier at one of those dilapidated convenience stores in the ghetto that specializes in the sale of 50-cent Swisher Sweets. But when their powers combined, they became a single, simultaneous response to years of torment in grade school. There was no way a scum bag like me would be getting Sudafed tonight.

Perhaps it was my attire that inspired the 250-pound, plain-looking and frizzy-haired Stacy to jump to conclusions like a bull ramming a Spaniard. I did look like Hell with my car wax-spotted coat and 10-year-old Yankees hat, fraying at the brim. It was nearly 10 p.m. on a Saturday night.

Perhaps a dress shirt, tie and the light of Sunday morning would’ve offered more trusting circumstances for Stacy. Perhaps …

I’m not overly concerned with how a different setting might have changed the outcome. Fact is, I would have been able to purchase the cold medicine I need so badly tonight if it weren’t for folks using it to make meth.

Fact is, the meth users have plenty of Sudafed this evening while my stuffed-up nose burns, throat tingles and nostrils flare due to a day’s worth of delivering snot into store-brand tissues.

Diary, do me a favor – if you can – and thank all of the meth users out there. Tell them I’m thankful for the expired sugar free cough drops and children’s Vick’s Vapor Rub I found in my medicine cabinet, exactly one shelf below the unopened, unused and unneeded bottle of Oxycodone I got when I had my wisdom teeth pulled. Tell them I hope they have a wonderful Sunday.

It’s unlikely that I will.



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5 Responses to My problem with drugs

  1. Julie says:

    Good God. We suck as a nation. I’ll send you two of my hard-earned Sudafed if you give me your address. 😉

    Wonderful post!

  2. Kim says:

    While I agree meth heads are assholes, wouldn’t it also be prudent to point out that our very own government is the one who gave such extreme power to frizzy-haired Stacy? Don’t worry, Justin. The government is protecting you from yourself. Wouldn’t want you to go out there and potentially make meth. Ugh. Crappy situation all around.

    • Kim, that is almost solely why I was compelled to share the story. In addition to the pharmacists’ lackluster communication skills, they surely didn’t possess the education and experience to profile true meth heads. That’s a tough job, even for law enforcement, and pharmacists should not have the power to give it a try.

  3. happyskeptic says:

    I have to include a comment from a friend who responded when I posted the story on Facebook, “If you dig and do the research you will find that the hillbilly meth-heads bogarting the over the counter pseudoephedrine are about 1% of the problem. The other 99 percent comes courtesy of the Mexican cartels, who buy commercial sized shipments of precursors on the gray and black markets and generally don’t bother with your neighborhood drugstore. But we pay the price and baah like sheep about the ‘drug problem.'”

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