Quick Stats

  • 43% of Americans have been exposed to alcoholism in their families.
  • Of approximately 1.2 million "sometime" heroin users in the US, about 208,000 use it habitually.
  • The estimated cost of making meth is $100 an ounce, with a street value of $800 an ounce.
  • Children as young as 13 have been found involved in heroin abuse. According to statistics in 1999 heroin overdose has caused more deaths than traffic accidents.

Club drug safety needed

Covington County has more than its fair share of illegal drug use and abuse, which keeps the Drug Task Force busy. But not every drug affecting local residents is methamphetamine, marijuana or crack cocaine.

Not every drug abuser or distributor fits the stereotypical image of a sleazy meth cooker in a backwoods trailer or a crack-peddling thug on a street corner. There is a whole other variety of chemical abuse out there with that is just as frightening, and possibly more harmful, because the distributors of these drugs target teenagers and young adults. The drugs are affordable, easily obtained, and wrapped in the myth that they are "harmless."

These are the "Club Drugs."

"They are not harmless," said the commander of the DTF.

One of the most popular -- and dangerous -- is the drug 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine or MDMA. the street names include XTC, Ecstasy, X and Adam, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

"It is a central nervous system stimulant (like meth)," said the commander. "It is a Schedule I controlled substance, just like meth and cocaine."

Capsules or tablets of Ecstasy can cost as little as $20, and the "high" can last up to four hours. It, like GHB, Ketamine, Rohypnol and LSD are called "club drugs" because of their popularity with young people attending all night dance parties, or "raves."

"Most times, whenever you see Ecstasy, you see it in conjunction with rave parties," said the commander. "A lot of the time, it's not hard to pick somebody out whose on Ecstasy, they'll have the little glow sticks -- as they're dancing, they'll twirl them around and when they are on this drug, they can see the light trail behind it."

The commander said there are other ways to recognize the Ecstasy abuser.

"The short term effects are a dry mouth, increased blood pressure, increased body temperature, increased heart rate and muscle tension in jaws."

The muscle tensions in the jaws, he said, causes the abuser to grit his or teeth, sometimes to the point of breaking them. To alleviate the tensions, they suck on hard candies, or use baby pacifiers or athletic mouth protectors.

Another indicator that the drug is in use, he said, is when the people massage each other.

"They start cramping," he said. "They call it the 'love drug' but it's not because it makes them want to hug on each other. They rub each other's shoulders to ease the cramps."

The combination of high body temperatures and increased blood pressure contribute to dehydration, and rather than alcohol, which would only aggravate the condition, the rave party hosts usually sell bottles of water. But the dehydration can be fatal, and it has been indicated that use of the drug can lead to kidney problems, exacerbating the problem even more.

Other long term effects include death, usually from heat stroke.

"The body temperature will get up to 106, 107 degrees," said the commander. "Basically, your brains are fried."

Ecstasy has what could be called a "cult" following, with page after page on the internet praising its benefits and giving advice on how to us it "safely," but according to both law enforcement and medical professionals, there is no "safe" usage. According to the National Institute for Drug Abuse, "chronic abuse of Ecstasy appears to damage the brain's ability to think and regulate emotion, memory, sleep, and pain."

"If you run around with your heart rate way above normal all the time and fevered, obviously, its not good.," said the commander of the DTF.

While the DTF has seen few cases of Ecstasy abuse in Covington County, they are aware it is out there. Since it is usually found around college campuses, and college age people, the officers know it is accessible, especially with spring break bringing many through the area, and taking many or the local students to areas where the drug is more easily found.

"Parents need to be aware," said the commander.

Other "club drugs" include:

GHB (hydroxybutyrate) -- Also known as "G," "Liquid Ecstasy," "Georgia Home Boy" or Gamma. At lower doses, GHB can relax the user, but, as the dose increases, the sedative effects may result in sleep and eventual coma or death. This is one of the drugs, according to the National Institute for Drug Abuse, that is used in "date rape" cases.

Rohypnol --"Roofie" or "Roche," it is tasteless and odorless. It mixes easily in carbonated beverages. People -- especially women -- are warned about accepting drinks at clubs or parties for this reason, as it is also used for "date rape." Rohypnol may cause individuals under the influence of the drug to forget what happened. Other effects include low blood pressure, drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, and stomach upset.

Ketamine -- "Special K" or "K," it is an anesthetic. Use of a small amount of ketamine results in loss of attention span, learning ability, and memory. At higher doses, ketamine can cause delirium, amnesia, high blood pressure, depression, and severe breathing problems.

Methamphetamine -- "Speed," "Ice," "Chalk," "Meth," it is often made in home laboratories. Methamphetamine use can cause serious health concerns, including memory loss, aggression, violence, psychotic behavior, and heart problems.

Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) -- "Acid" may cause unpredictable behavior depending on the amount taken, where the drug is used, and on the user's personality. A user might feel the following effects: numbness, weakness, nausea, increased

heart rate, sweating, lack of appetite, and sleeplessness. Long term effects include flashbacks and genetic damage which can lead to birth defects.

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