Book: Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town by Nick Reding
About: Reding focuses on Oelwein, Iowa and its meth "epidemic." Through interviews with townspeople, meth users, meth makers, those involved with drug trafficking organizations, law and drug enforcement agents and government officials, he provides an excellent view of a drug problem from both the individual and the broad policy levels.
Pros: Well written. Reding clearly did lots of interviews, research and traveling to cover all aspects of the story. Epilogue nicely sums up outcomes of the main folks introduced.
A few interesting things I learned:
- Cooking up one pound of usable meth makes five pounds of toxic waste.
- Long-term meth use makes your brain stop producing as much dopamine, the neurotransmitter that gives you a natural "high" and the only thing that makes you feel that good again is meth.
- Pseudoephedrine, a cold medicine ingredient that is key to meth production has not been as tightly regulated as it should due to pressure from the pharmceutical and retail lobbies.
- Smoking a drug is the fastest way to get it to your brain.
- All that's needed to make meth is anhydrous ammonia (a common farm fertilizer), a lithium strip from a battery, cold pills with pseudophedrine, some lantern fluid and a basic knowledge of chemistry.