DURHAM (WTVD) — It’s been two years since the National Precursor Log Exchange known as “N-plex” went into effect at North Carolina pharmacies.
The program tracks and limits how much pseudo-ephedrine you buy. The drug is the main ingredient — for meth production.
But meth is still on the rise in our local neighborhoods. Across the Triangle, authorities report there are more and more meth lab explosions — in family neighborhoods.
Susan Mowery knows why unlikely people are getting addicted to meth. The former meth addict remembers how she felt when she was on meth.
“Ten foot tall and bulletproof is a good example of what it makes you feel like,” she said.
Mowery and her husband made meth in their home and bought the main ingredient at their local pharmacies.
“I would go into Wal-Mart and get the Sudafed and somebody else would go to the CVS. We would kind of canvass the stores and then we’d switch up,” she remembered.
Mowery and her husband also sold meth until a frightening explosion early one morning.
“He was shaking up ingredients in a mason jar. It busted and ignited and he went up in flames right in front of me,” she explained.
Her husband survived, but they divorced.
She now counsels drug addicts at TROSA, a substance abuse recovery program in Durham.
While Mowery left meth making behind, many have not.
Meth production is skyrocketing, especially in suburban neighborhoods.
In January of this year, Attorney General Roy Cooper said the N-plex program is leading to more meth busts.
When the law went into effect in 2012, authorities broke up 460 labs and arrested 1,400 people for meth trafficking, manufacturing and possession.
The law was supposed to make it much more difficult to make meth by restricting access to pseudo-ephedrine.
But last year there were 100 more busts and more than 2,000 people arrested.
“We know what we’re catching, but all the stuff that we’re not catching is hard to quantify,” explained SBI Special Agent Todd Duke.
Duke relies on the computer system in pharmacies for tracking the sale of pseudo-ephedrine.
“It’s a useful tool to help us do a targeted investigation,” he stated.
But, meth makers have changed their recipe in recent years.
Now, they need just one packet of Sudafed to make a one gram bottle of meth which sells on the street for $100.
“It is an extremely simple process. It’s just several ingredients that are available commercially anywhere, and a plastic bottle,” Duke said.
At the TROSA recovery program in Durham, Mowery is seeing more and more meth addicts, which may leave you wondering if the database tracking your purchases of cold and allergy medicine is having much of an impact on reducing the danger of meth making in our neighborhoods.
“As long as there are always people willing to take that risk, it’s going to be there,” she said.