By MICHAEL WOODS
August 18, 2005
"Drunk," was the EMTs first thought. En route to the hospital, however, the boys slipped into a coma, and by arrival they didn't even respond to pain.
The boys looked healthy. Blood and urine tests showed no common drugs or large amounts of alcohol. Then they stopped breathing, and were put on respirators. If the girlfriend had left them to "sleep," they would have been brain dead in about 6 minutes.
Next day they regained consciousness and walked out of the hospital - unable to remember anything from the night before.
That's a real-life account, from the New England Journal of Medicine, of a close call with "club drugs."
When parents worry about drugs tempting their children, they often think of tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana. However, a whole new generation of drugs with potentially devastating effects has joined the Big Three.
Q. What are club drugs?
A. They are illegal drugs used by some teenagers and young adults at bars, nightclubs, concerts, parties, and all-night dances (called raves and trances). The most common are Rohypnol, ketamine, GHB, Ecstasy (MDMA), methamphetamine, and LSD.
Q. How many people have tried them?
A. At least 10 million, according to the latest research, done in 2002 by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Q. What harmful effects do they have?
A. Some are stimulants that raise blood pressure and heart rate, and others are depressants that can cause drowsiness, loss of consciousness, seizures, coma and dangerous breathing problems. Certain club drugs can damage nerve cells in the brain. People who take club drugs often use alcohol at the same time, which can intensify the harmful effects.
Q. Are these the same as "date rape" drugs?
A. Rohypnol, GHB, and some others have been used in assaults and rapes. Some of the drugs are almost tasteless, and can be slipped into a drink without the person's knowledge, causing loss of judgment or unconsciousness. They also can produce amnesia, so that the victim can't remember what happened.
Q. Are they addictive?
A. Methamphetamine is an addictive stimulant that is very similar to amphetamine. It is causing serious problems with addiction and violent crime in some parts of the country.
Q. Are there other dangers?
A. Club drugs often are made in makeshift "laboratories" in someone's kitchen or bathroom, using ingredients removed from other drugs or household products. Nobody tests club drugs for purity, and users never know exactly what they are taking.
Q. Do users know about the dangers?
A. Often they do not. Many teenagers and young adults think that club drugs are a harmless way to have a good time.
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