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Employee Drug Use Up, Testing Down Teacher Random Drug Test Law Pot Potency Doubles
New Ecstasy Brain Damage Study Meth Labs Move to Mexico Latest American Drug Use Study
Mexican Fentanyl Lab Bust Illinois Bans Pure DXM Most Sex Assault Involve Drugs
Marijuana Impairs Memory Ambien Impaired Drivers School Drug Testing Urged
10 Fentanyl Deaths in Chicago Girl's Drug Use Rate Up "K-Pin" Abuse Leads to Suicide
Mexican Meth Floods US Heroin Addiction Onset Time Meth Addiction Rate Up
New Peyote Research New Teen Drinking Data Meth Exposed Kids
Cough Syrup Abuse and Kids Meth Bigger Workplace Problem Meth Sting Snares Clerks
Meth Top Drug Problem Cold Drugs Changed to Fight Meth Up To A Third Drive High
Marijuana Candy Being Sold New Warnings On Pot Use Meth Labs Move To Mexico
"Generation Rx" Addicts Get Government Heroin Pot Addiction Treatment Increase
Parents Not Talking To Kids Meth Abuse In Chicago Saliva Beats Urine Test
Ecstasy As Medicine? New Drug 2-Ci Hits U.S. Illicit Drug Prices Drop
New Sudafed Offered Teen Drug Use Drops Euphoria Lab Busted
Drugged Driving Teens Sting Adults on Booze Sale Date-Rape Cigarettes
Vaccine for Drug Addiction 4 of 5 Kids Arrested On Drugs New Workplace Drug Figures
Work Place Meth Use Up Contract Protects Cocaine User New GHB Test Coming Soon
Narco-Pops New Street Drug Super-Pot Sends Kids to ER DXM Abuse Sweeps Suburbs
No Drug Tests for Criminals Companys Using New Drug Test Chicago: Heroin's Capitol
Failure to Test Leads to Fine NYC Ferry Pilot on Drugs? Youth Drug Use Down
On Drugs and On the Job Teeth Pulled Out High On GHB GHB Male Gang Rape
Ecstasy Use Plateaus Push for Drugged Driving Law ER Sees More Pot, Narcotics
Teen Drug Use Drops US Pilots Given "Speed" New Addiction Fighting Drugs
Parent Ecstasy Survey Kids Abusing DXM GHB DUI Arrest
Ecstasy & Parkinson's Disease Pot Called Driving Danger Opposition to Pot Legalization
Dangerous New Club Drugs Kava Use Dangerous Court: Urine Sales Illegal
Court: OK to Drive on Pot Teen Drug Use Reported Big PCP Lab/Gang Bust
Ecstasy Slows Learning Bus Driver Poly-Drug Abuser Parent Smoking Steers Teen Use
New Drug "Nexus" Hits Clubs Teen Smoking Rate Falls DUI Death Rates Going Up
Cocaine Addiction Research Drug Use Remains Steady Cop Arrested In Ecstasy Ring
Crack Mom Sells Daughter "Speedballs" Kill 18 People Teens Trek to City for Heroin
Doctor Charged In Oxy Death Kids Mirror Parents Pot Use Record Level of Drug ODs
Kava Tea DUI Ruling Pot Use Up Among City Youth New Device Tests Eyes ForDrugs
PCP Driver Kills Infant Club Drugs Hard To Spot In Teens Dutch Tolerate Ecstasy Use
Drug Blocks Pot's High Ecstasy Drug Crash Kills 6 Teens Tougher Penalty for Ecstasy
Girl 13 Dead of Heroin/Cocaine Ecstasy, Water OD Caused Death New Drug "Oxy" Spreads East
Teen Dies From Single Green Pill Cop Beats Designer Drug Charge New Hair Test for Ecstasy
Now Ecstasy Cigarettes! 1,4 BD Designer Drug Death GBL Designer Drug Death
Bus Drivers Use Child's Urine Kava Tea Leads To DUI Arrest PMA Murder Charge
Drug Fumes On Airliner Drug Problem Very Regional Drug "Ice" Comes To China
Ketamine Stolen From Vets Killer GBL Sold As Cleaning Fluid Ecstasy Use Up Among Teens
City Bans Drug Test "Cleaners" Gas Sniffing Kills Canada Kids First GHB Murder Trial
Club Drugs Often Laced "PMA" Hits Florida Pot Smoking Cop Can't Be Fired
Max Factor GHB Rape Arrest Pot and Tumor Growth Study Train Engineer On Cocaine
GHB Drug Rape Conviction Campus Alcohol Use Surges New Drug "PMA" Kills Three
Drugs Smuggled In Girl's Corpse Record Blood-Alcohol Level Meth Fumes On-board Aircraft
Ecstasy Flow Becomes Epidemic Pot Smoking and Dropouts Pot Raises Heart Attack Risk
Delta Drug Testing Debacle Smoking Drug Addiction Link Clinton Signs GHB Law
Cop's Drug Test Fight Tobacco As Addictive As Heroin New Cocaine Research Findings
10 Truckers In Drug Sting Company Fights Drugs In Plant Plant Workers Selling Drugs
 

Employee Drug Use Up -- Testing Down

WASHINGTON, DC (INC.com) July 23, 2007 -- Illicit drug use and alcohol abuse in the workplace is more prevalent than employers may think, with one in 12 full-time U.S. workers admitting that they have used illegal substances in the past month, new research shows.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an annual average of approximately 9.4 million illicit drug users and 10.1 million heavy alcohol users held full-time jobs from 2002 to 2004. In the survey, the definition of illegal drug use included marijuana, and heavy alcohol use was defined as drinking five or more drinks on one occasion at least five times in the past 30 days.

The recent numbers for employee drug use are up slightly from government survey data a decade ago -- the current usage rate is 8.2 percent, compared to 7.7 percent in 1997. "Employees who use drugs miss work more often, are less healthy, and are more prone to harming themselves and others in the workplace," John Walters, director of the National Drug Control Policy, said in a statement.

The industries where employees reported the highest rates of illicit drug use were food service, at 17.8 percent, and construction, at 15.1 percent. Similarly, heavy alcohol use was highest among construction, mining, excavation, and drilling workers, at 17.8 percent, and among maintenance and repair workers, it was 14.7 percent, the survey found.

Yet, despite the statistics, research shows little is being done by employers to address the problem of substance abuse in the workplace. In a separate survey of 1,000 human-resources professionals, more than two-thirds of respondents consider substance abuse one of the most serious issues they face in their company, however, only 22 percent said their company is proactively dealing with it, according to the Hazelden Foundation, a non-profit addiction recovery organization based in Center City, Minnesota.

Only 30 percent of the full-time workforce surveyed reported that their current employer conducted random drug testing. Not surprisingly, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration survey also found that current drug users were more likely to work for employers who did not conduct drug or alcohol testing. Almost a third of the respondents said they would not take a job if they knew they would be tested.

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Hawaii Teachers' Contract Requires Drug Testing
 
May 8, 2007 -- A 4-percent salary increase for Hawaii school teachers comes with a catch: to win the pay hike, the Hawaii State Teachers Association agreed to allow random drug testing of its members.

The teachers' contract calls for random testing for alcohol and other drugs. Approved by 61 percent of union members, it has sparked grumbling about the linkage between the salary increases and the testing requirements, as well as predictions of a court challenge.

"I think this is a lawsuit waiting to happen," said teachers' union expert Julia Koppich. "Someone is going to say, 'You don't get to drug test me without probable cause.' " The courts have allowed random drug testing of students and workers in safety-related jobs, but have split on the issue of testing teachers, although some have ruled that teaching falls into the category of "safety-sensitive" jobs.

"We can imagine few governmental interests more important to a community than that of insuring the safety and security of its children while they are entrusted to the care of teachers and administrators," the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in one case.

But Roger Pilon, vice president of legal affairs at the Cato Institute, said that just because teachers stand in for parents during the day doesn't mean they should be subject to drug testing. "Then why not test the parents?" he asked.

The Hawaii drug-testing provision came after a number of school employees were arrested on charges of using or selling illicit drugs.

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Study Finds Highest Levels of THC in U.S. Marijuana To Date

20 Year Analysis of Marijuana Seizures Reveals a Doubling in Pot Potency Since Mid-80's

WASHINGTON (ONDCP Press Release) April 25, 2007.—Today, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) released the latest analysis from the University of Mississippi's Potency Monitoring Project which revealed that levels of THC—the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana—have reached the highest-ever levels since scientific analysis of the drug began in the late 1970's. According to the latest data on marijuana samples analyzed to date, the average amount of THC in seized samples has reached 8.5 percent. This compares to an average of just under 4 percent reported in 1983 and represents more than a doubling in the potency of the drug since that time.

As of March 15, 2007, the University of Mississippi has analyzed and compiled data on 59,369 cannabis samples, 1,225 hashish samples, and 443 hash oil samples confiscated by law enforcement agencies since 1975. In its most recent quarterly Report, the highest concentration of THC found in a marijuana sample during this period was 32.3 percent. Two-thirds of the cannabis samples seized in 2006 were from law enforcement seizures and purchases, and the remaining were from domestic eradications. The law enforcement seizures were obtained from 45 different states. The Potency Monitoring Project is funded through by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and has conducted an ongoing analysis of seized marijuana samples since 1976.

John Walters, Director of National Drug Control Policy and President Bush's "Drug Czar" expressed serious concerns regarding this trend, "This new report serves as a wake-up call for parents who may still hold outdated notions about the harms of marijuana. Evidence now tells us that the higher-than-ever potency of today's marijuana translates into serious health consequences for teens. Among teens who are receiving treatment for drug abuse or dependence, more than 60% report marijuana as their primary drug of abuse. Additionally, we are now seeing more mentions of marijuana during visits to emergency rooms than ever before. A growing body of research now tells us that marijuana poses a serious threat to the health and futures of young people. Parents need to start having critical conversations with their children about this drug."

Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of NIDA stated, "Although the overall number of young people using marijuana has declined in recent years, there is still reason for great concern, particularly since roughly 60 percent of first-time marijuana users are under 18 years old. During adolescence and into young adulthood, the brain continues to develop and may be vulnerable to marijuana's deleterious effects. Science has shown that marijuana can produce adverse physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral changes, and—contrary to popular belief—it can be addictive."

Higher potency marijuana may be contributing to a substantial increase in the number of American teenagers seeking treatment for marijuana dependence. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), of the 15.1 million current (past-month) users, 4.1 million Americans (1.7 percent) report dependency or abuse of marijuana. Additionally, the latest information from the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS, 2005), reports that 20.1% of drug treatment admissions were for marijuana as the primary drug of abuse. This compares to 6% in 1992.

The increasing strength of marijuana may also be linked to increasing mentions of marijuana in hospital emergency rooms. The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), a national surveillance system that monitors trends in drug-related emergency department visits and deaths, and is operated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), has found that DAWN emergency room mentions of marijuana have increased nationally from 45,000 in 1995 to 119,000 in 2002 (Data since 2002 cannot be compared with earlier years).

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Ecstasy Can Cause Brain Damage, Even After First Use

CHICAGO (Bloomberg) November 27, 2006 -- Getting high just a few times using the drug known as ecstasy is enough to damage cells and reduce blood flow to the brain, possibly permanently, a study says.

Low doses of the drug were linked to subtle changes in the architecture of brain cells 18 months after first use, according to research presented today at a meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago. First-time users also showed a decrease in verbal memory.

Ecstasy, a stimulant that can cause hallucinations, is an illegal drug often found at nightclubs or all-night dance parties, called raves. While extensive use has already been shown to harm neurons in the brain, causing depression, anxiety and memory loss, this is the first study to identify the risk of brain damage among those who have taken only a few doses.

``We don't know if it's reversible or permanent,'' said Maartje de Win, a radiology resident at the University of Amsterdam, in a telephone interview today. ``People should know there might be some consequences for them even after incidental use.''

More than 11 million Americans say they have tried ecstasy at least once, according to the 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. A 2005 survey found that 2.8 percent of eighth graders and 5.4 percent of 12th graders in the U.S. have tried the drug, the National Institute on Drug Abuse said.

De Win and her colleagues first took brain scans of 188 young adults with an average age of 22 who weren't ecstasy users, yet met certain criteria for being at risk for trying the drug in the near future. After 18 months, the researchers reexamined 59 people who had each taken an average of six tablets of ecstasy and 56 people who hadn't tried the drug.

Adverse Effects

When ecstasy, known chemically as MDMA or 3,4- methylenedioxymethamphetamine, first became popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s, part of the draw for young people was that many were under the impression that the drug wasn't addictive and could be used at parties or on the weekends without any adverse effects, de Win said.

De Win said she was surprised that 64 of the 188 young people selected for the study chose to try ecstasy on their own, even after researchers warned them about the potential risks in their initial examinations. Five of the youth declined to participate in the follow-up tests.

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Meth Labs Move to Mexico

GUADALAJARA (LA TIMES) November 26, 2006 — The methamphetamine laboratories that once plagued California's hinterlands and powered a national explosion of drug abuse have been replaced by an increasing supply from Mexico, U.S. law enforcement officials say.

The boom in Mexican methamphetamine production stems from successful efforts in the U.S. to control the sale of chemicals used to produce the drug, including the cold medicine pseudoephedrine.

Drug traffickers, some of them ex-convicts and fugitives from the United States, including a former chemistry professor from Idaho arrested last month, authorities say, have resettled in Mexico because of the easy access to pseudoephedrine and other chemicals.

The largest share of the chemicals is believed to be shipped to Mexico from factories in China and India and routed through Hong Kong. China has emerged as the top concern for U.S. authorities.

Like traffic in heroin and cocaine, the methamphetamine economy has become a global phenomenon. So too is the battle to control what most U.S. law enforcement authorities consider the country's greatest drug threat.

The trend began surfacing about two years ago as a crackdown on the bulk distribution of ingredients cut off producers from supplies in the U.S. and, later, Canada.

Authorities now estimate that 80% of the methamphetamine on U.S. streets is controlled by Mexican drug traffickers, with most of the supply smuggled in from Mexico. Methamphetamine seizures at the U.S.-Mexico border jumped 50% from 2003 through 2005, from 4,030 to 6,063 pounds.

The number of labs discovered by Mexican authorities nearly tripled from 2002 to 2005, from 13 to 37, and methamphetamine seizures more than doubled, to 2,169 pounds, during the same period. U.S. authorities believe the numbers are a fraction of actual activity, as signs of an extensive production infrastructure have surfaced in the last year or so.

Among those signs: Mexico's importation of cold medicines jumped suddenly in recent years, from 92,000 tons in 2002 to 150,000 tons in 2005. Though recently imposed restrictions have cut legal imports by about half this year, U.S. authorities believe significant amounts are still being smuggled through corruption-ridden Mexican ports.

 

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More illegal drug usage reported by ages 50-59

By Kevin Freking, Associated Press  |  September 8, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Some mothers and fathers might want to take a lesson from their children: Just say no.

The government reported yesterday that 4.4 percent of baby boomers ages 50 to 59 indicated that they had used illicit drugs in the past month. It is the third consecutive yearly increase recorded for the group by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Illicit drug use among young teenagers declined for a third consecutive year, from 11.6 percent in 2002 to 9.9 percent in 2005.

The annual survey on drug use and health involves interviews of about 67,500 people. It provides an important snapshot of how many Americans drink, smoke, and use drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

Overall, drug use remained relatively unchanged among Americans age 12 and older in 2005. About 19.7 million Americans reported they had used an illicit drug in the past month, which represented a rise from 7.9 percent to 8.1 percent. Among the 18 to 25 group, drug use rose from 19.4 percent to 20.1 percent.

David Murray of the Office of National Drug Control Policy said the peak of drug use among youth in the United States occurred in the late 1970s.

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Major Bust In Bad Heroin Supply

CHICAGO, IL (Chicago Tribune) June 5, 2006 -- A clandestine laboratory in Mexico capable of producing millions of doses of the potent, sometimes lethal, drug fentanyl has been shut down, the U.S. drug czar announced Monday in Chicago, but not before it may have contaminated supplies of street drugs here and across the country.

Heroin mixed with the powerful painkiller has been blamed for hundreds of deaths across the U.S. in the last year, including at least 60 in Chicago. The synthetic narcotic is being added to heroin to give a more powerful high to users, authorities have said. Some users have sought the combination and others may not have known what they were buying.

Just over the weekend in Cook County, there were 13 fatal overdoses that now are being investigated for connections to fentanyl, the county's chief medical examiner said Monday.

John Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said it is too soon to know if the Mexican lab was the biggest source of the illicit drug, which has killed people in eight states.

But authorities believe it may have been running long enough to push a major amount of fentanyl, used legally for pain management, into the illegal drug market, he said.

"In effect, to be quite clear, the drug traffickers have substantially poisoned the drug supply in the United States," Walters said.

"These are already dangerous substances, but obviously we're now seeing in more places the effects of this incredibly powerful drug in levels that are causing deaths."

The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City reported the lab was located May 21 by Mexican authorities in Toluca, north of the capital. The Mexican attorney general's office reported authorities found a climate-controlled room in the company's space in an industrial park, with tools and precursor chemicals used in the making of the drug.

Federal investigators said five Mexican nationals were arrested, including a man acting as the chemist for the group.

Investigators are working to determine how much fentanyl could have been made at the production site before it was discovered. And agents are seeking records on the site that might provide clues as to its production capacity and distribution channels, they said.

Deaths have been reported in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.

Testing is under way to find a common chemical signature in samples from those states that might link them to the Mexican lab, Walters said, confirming the fears of some that crime networks will move heavily into fentanyl production.

Investigators said they are working to determine if Chicago street gangs are moving the drug locally. Walters said no clear national picture had emerged that would explain which criminal networks are transporting fentanyl around the country.

Cook County Medical Examiner Edmund Donoghue said blood from 13 victims of fatal overdoses in the county over the weekend would be tested for fentanyl. The drug is among the most powerful illicit substances seen on Chicago's streets, he said. The narcotic, originally produced as a surgical anesthetic, shuts down the respiratory system, he said.

Among those suspected of overdosing over the weekend was Herman Elmore, 31, who died at the home of a family he was staying with in the 7400 block of South Morgan Street.

Vicky Love, who described herself as Elmore's godmother, said he was in and out of the house early Sunday, and then came in and said he was sleepy at about 3 p.m.

"I told him to sit down and take a nap," Love said. Several hours later children in the house tried to wake Elmore from a chair, but he was not breathing.

Donoghue said it would take weeks for testing to determine whether fentanyl was in Elmore's system. Love said she did not know Elmore to be a drug user, and said she doesn't know why anyone would try heroin now.

"They know [fentanyl] is out there, so why go out here and purchase it when it's all over the news?" she said.

Eddy Borrayo, director of substance-abuse services at the Pilsen-Little Village Mental Health Center, said many addicts do look for fentanyl-laced heroin.

"If someone is getting a good high, such as with fentanyl, then addicts will go out and say, 'Where can I get some?'" he said. "That's what keeps them going. They're trying to find something else that gives them their first high.

"The potency is the issue," he said. "If a dope dealer says, 'I've got the good stuff,' that means it'll knock [the addict] out. It might make the addict feel tranquil and go to sleep. That's what they want. It's a pseudo-suicide, if you want to call it that."

Garrison Courtney, spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration in Washington, said there could be a number of illegal sources for the drug, including other laboratories. Some of it has been stolen from medical facilities where it is often used in a patch for cancer patients and others with severe pain, Courtney said.

On June 14, Chicago police and the Drug Enforcement Administration in Chicago will meet with law enforcement representatives from other states in hopes of finding patterns in how the drug is distributed.

Drug czar Walters said fentanyl also would become a focus of his office's new U.S. Synthetic Drug Control Strategy, which will target precursor materials entering the country.

Walters, speaking after a news conference in Chicago that introduced a new ad campaign to keep Hispanics from experimenting with crystal methamphetamine, said for now he could only urge users not to go looking for fentanyl.

At a treatment clinic in the mental health center, Borrayo said he was not optimistic most addicts would listen to official pleas to stay away from fentanyl. In his experience, he said, dealers will often give out free samples of a new mixture to see if they have a winning formula, and users will be in line waiting for it.

"The [dealers] will try to test it out to see if it's that good," he said. "Then they'll increase their price."

Tribune staff reporter Hugh Dellios contributed to this report.
 

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New Law Bans Pure DXM

SPRINGFIELD, IL (The News Gazette) May 26, 2006 -- A new law makes it illegal to sell or purchase pure dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant that led to the deaths of a 22-year-old Illinois State University student and a 17-year-old from rural Hindsboro.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed HB 4300 into law on Wednesday, and it will take effect on Jan. 1, 2007.

Dextromethorphan, or DXM, is found in more than 140 over-the-counter medicines, according to the U.S. Department of Justice's National Drug Intelligence Center. It is safe in the recommended doses, but can be extremely dangerous in large quantities.

Overdosing on DXM can produce nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, dizziness, confusion, poor coordination, rapid heart rate and hallucinations. In some cases, it can cause inability to talk or move one's limbs, coma, and ultimately, even death.

While some teens are overdosing on cough syrup or cold pills in an attempt to get high, a growing number of abusers are purchasing DXM in pure form over the Internet, or downloading instructions on how to distill pure DXM out of over-the-counter products.

"The idea that kids can go online and easily get their hands on a dangerous drug is appalling," Blagojevich said in a written release. "This law helps put to stop that, and that's why I'm signing it."

The new law bans the sale or purchase of pure form DXM, without restricting sales or use of over-the-counter medicines containing the drug. Anyone caught in possession of pure form DXM will face a Class 4 felony charge and one to three years in prison. Sale or possession with intent to sell will be a Class 2 felony, punishable by three to seven years in prison.

State Rep. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, was the sponsor of the bill, which passed unanimously in the House and Senate this spring.

"This has no effect whatsoever on over-the-counter medications," he said. "We were very careful to draft this legislation in a way that doesn't affect what's available to the average consumer. That's really not the problem we're seeing out there."

The measure was prompted by the deaths of ISU student Jonathan Frary in 2003 and 17-year-old Eric Richardson of rural Hindsboro in 2004. Both overdosed on pure form DXM that was reportedly ordered over the Internet.

According to state Sen. Dale Risinger, R-Peoria, at least three other U.S. deaths have been attributed to DXM overdoses, but Illinois is the first state to enact legislation to address the problem.

Bills to ban DXM sales to minors were recently introduced in Texas, California and North Dakota, but none became law.

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Most sexual assaults involve drugs

CHICAGO, IL (Chicago Sun-Times) May 11, 2006 -- Almost 62 percent of sexual assaults were found to be drug facilitated, and almost 5 percent of the victims were given classic “date-rape” drugs, according to a new study at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

An estimated 100,000 sexual assaults are committed in the United States each year, and the FBI says that number could be three times higher if all cases were reported, Adam Negrusz, associate professor of forensic sciences in the UIC College of Pharmacy said in a release from UIC.

Negrusz, lead author of the study, said individuals who use drugs, with or without alcohol, are thought to be at a significantly higher risk for sexual assault.

"In some cases the substances are taken voluntarily by the victims, impairing their ability to make decisions," Negrusz said in the release. "In other cases the substances are given to the victims without their knowledge, which may decrease their ability to identify a dangerous situation or to resist the perpetrator."

In about 80 percent of the cases, the victim knows the assailant, he said, "while only 20 percent of sexual assaults are opportunistic."

The study, funded by the National Institute of Justice, collected data from 144 subjects who sought help in clinics in Texas, California, Minnesota and Washington state, according to the release. Urine and hair specimens were analyzed for about 45 drugs that have either been detected in sexual assault victims or whose pharmacology could be exploited for drug-facilitated sexual assaults, Negrusz said in the release.

Two types of drug-facilitated sexual assault were identified: presumed surreptitious drugging, or willful drug use by the subject.

According to Negrusz, 61.8 percent of the subjects were found to have at least one of the 45 analyzed drugs in their system; 4.9 percent tested positive for the classic date-rape drugs, and 4.2 percent had been drugged without their knowledge.

When the subject's voluntary drug use was queried, 35.4 percent were likely to have been impaired at the time of the sexual assault, the release said.

"This study demonstrated the need for toxicological analysis in sexual assault cases," Negrusz said, noting the high percentage of subjects who tested positive for drugs. "It also demonstrated that sexual assault complainants severely under-report their illegal drug usage."

The study also confirmed that drug-facilitated sexual assault is more often due to the subject's own drug use, he said, rather than surreptitious drugging by the perpetrator.

Copyright © The Sun-Times Company
 

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Long-Term Marijuana Use May Fog Memory

GREECE (Health Day News) March 14, 2006 --Memory, attention, and verbal fluency appear to suffer among regular, long-term marijuana users.

A team of researchers from University Hospital in Patras, Greece found that people who smoked four joints or more per week tended to perform poorly on mental tests, and those who had smoked regularly for a decade or more did the worst. "The longer you smoke marijuana, the more likely you are to experience a diminution of cognitive functions that are critical for 'normal' daily functioning," said Barbara Flannery, an addiction researcher.

Researchers found, for example, that long-term marijuana users were impaired 70 percent of the time on a decision-making test, compared to 55 percent for short-term users and 8 percent for nonusers. Researchers cautioned, however, that the purported link between marijuana and diminished mental acuity is far from definitive.

The study was published in the March 14 issue of the journal Neurology.  Messinis, L., Kyprianidou, A., Malefaki, S. and Papathanasopoulos, P. (2006) Neuropsychological deficits in long-term frequent cannabis users. Neurology, 66: 737-739.

 

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Ambien Cited in Growing Number of Impaired-Driver Cases

WASHINGTON D.C. (The New York Times) March 8, 2006 -- The prescription sleep aid Ambien has become a leading culprit in impaired-driving cases nationally, including a number of incidents where users drove off in their cars without ever waking up.

Americans received 26 million prescriptions for Ambien last year, and the drug's popularity is being reflected in traffic incident reports. In Washington, for example, Ambien was involved in 78 impaired-driving arrests last year, up from 56 in 2004.

"We are aware of reports of people driving while sleepwalking, and those reports have been provided to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as part of our ongoing post marketing evaluation about the safety of our products," said a spokesperson for Sanofi-Aventis, the maker of Ambien. A FDA spokesperson said that the current warnings for Ambien, which advise against using the drug with alcohol and warn about sleepwalking and hallucinations, are sufficient.

Drivers under the influence of Ambien, often totally oblivious, have driven the wrong way on highways and crashed into other cars. "These cases are just extremely bizarre, with extreme impairment," said Laura J. Liddicoat, a state forensic toxicology supervisor in Wisconsin. Other experts at a meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences shared similar stories.

Skeptics say that drivers who claim to be asleep at the wheel could be lying to protect themselves, but some experts said it is possible that Ambien users could actually be asleep while driving. South Carolina resident Dwayne Cribb said he took Ambien before bed one night last October and woke up in jail, having unwittingly gone for a drive and crashed into a parked van and a tree.

In another case, a British man successfully dodged criminal charges after he was arrested for disturbing a U.S. Airlines flight; the man said he had taken Ambien and downed two single-serving bottles of wine. Experts say that combining alcohol with Ambien is especially dangerous.

Forensics experts say that Ambien has become one of the top 10 drugs involved in impaired-driving cases in some states.

 

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U.S. Takes Drug-Testing Campaign on Road

SAN DIEGO, CA (North County Times) February 23, 2006 --Deputy U.S. drug czar Mary Ann Solberg traveled to San Diego to encourage schools to start randomly drug testing their students, but was met by opponents who called testing ineffective or worse.

Solberg called youth drug use a "national public-health problem" and said drug testing can be an effective deterrent; she added that testing should be a "community decision," not one made by a school board or superintendent.

"This can never appear on a permanent record," Solberg said of test results, which she said should be used to identify problems and get students help. "This is not a criminal-justice issue." 

"It's something I'm interested in implementing," said Chris Greene, the athletic director at Carlsbad High School. "I think it's positive for the kids." 

But Kevin Keenan, executive director of the local chapter of the ACLU, called the drug-testing conference sponsored by the Office of National Drug Control Policy "a very one-sided dog-and-pony show," saying that drug testing violates privacy rights and diverts money from proven prevention strategies.

Jennifer Kern of the Drug Policy Alliance said it is too easy for drug-testing results to become public knowledge. "Students are pulled out of class (for testing), then suddenly they're not on the basketball team," she said.

ONDCP plans to hold four such regional conferences this year, and is dangling federal funding for schools interested in random drug testing.

 

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Fentanyl Deaths Reach 10 in two months

CHICAGO (The Sun Times) February 11, 2006 -- Laboratory tests on some of the fatal overdose victims who Chicago Police suspected may have died last month from a bad batch of heroin indicate the presence of the powerful pain-killer fentanyl, officials confirmed Friday.

The results showed traces of the synthetic narcotic in some of the people who died over the past month after ingesting heroin bought near the Dearborn Homes on the South Side, Wentworth Area Cmdr. Patricia Walsh said.

The drug is hundreds of times stronger than heroin.

Detectives became suspicious two weeks ago because of a high number of overdose victims who had bought heroin near the Dearborn Homes between the 2700 and 3000 blocks of South State or who had died there. Police said they suspect the victims thought they were buying heroin, but it was a synthetic narcotic known as fentanyl, which is sometimes used as a pain-killer for cancer patients. While its effects are similar to heroin's, fentanyl is much stronger and can be lethal in even small doses.

At least 10 fatal overdoses are under investigation, but not all the tests have been completed. Standard toxicological screenings do not detect fentanyl, so special tests must be done.

The drug kills quickly, another reason police noticed a pattern. When just a small amount of the cancer drug is cut into heroin, it can become lethal, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. In this case, investigators suspect the victims were ingesting pure fentanyl.

Lawrence Ouellet, a University of Illinois professor and director of the Community Outreach Intervention Projects, said his staff started hearing about overdoses a few weeks ago. They also know of some heroin that has been sold recently under brand names "Undertaker," "Lights Out" and "Overdose." Ouellet said the ghoulish names are not uncommon, and are used to signal how high a person will get from a certain drug.

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Girls Try Drugs, Alcohol at Higher Rates

 

NEW YORK (AP) Feb. 9, 2005 -- In a reversal of past trends, teenage girls are trying marijuana, alcohol and cigarettes at higher rates than boys, the White House drug czar said Thursday. The findings from a new government analysis come even as teen drug use is declining overall.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, released by John Walters, the national drug policy director, indicates 1.5 million girls ages 12 to 17 started drinking alcohol in 2004, the most recent year for which data is available. That compares with 1.28 million boys.

Among the same age group, 730,000 girls started smoking cigarettes in 2004, compared with 565,000 boys, and 675,000 girls starting using marijuana, compared with 577,000 boys, the survey found. The nationwide survey, based on interviews with 70,000 families, also found that girls surpassed boys in abusing prescription drugs. Of the youths surveyed in 2004, 14.4 percent of girls and 12.5 percent of boys reported misusing prescription drugs.
 

"This is the first time that we've recorded this kind of relationship between boys' and girls' drug use," said Walters. "In the past, boys have had higher rates of use - and significantly higher rates of use at certain times in the past."

 

Overall illicit drug use among youths 12 to 17 has declined 19 percent since 2001, according to the survey.

 

"In order to drive it down further, we have to deal with today's substance abuse reality, and today's reality is, girls have been using at higher rates than boys in critical areas," Walters said.

 

Experts who joined Walters at a news conference in a Manhattan hotel said girls' use of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes is particularly alarming because girls are more vulnerable to their effects.

 

"Boys and girls react to drugs differently," said Dr. Warren Seigel, past president of the New York State chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Seigel said research has shown that girls may become addicted to nicotine faster than boys and even moderate drinking can disrupt their growth and the development of their reproductive systems.  "It's imperative that parents understand that these differences exist, and understand the differences between girls and boys, because it requires some different parenting skills," he said.
 

Dr. Ralph Lopez, an associate professor at Cornell University's Weill Medical College and the author of "The Teen Health Book: A Parents' Guide to Adolescent Health and Well-Being," said teenage girls are at risk for drug and alcohol use because they feel pressure to succeed academically and also to look perfect. "They have to be skinny and gorgeous," he said. "We don't do that to the boys." Lopez said many parents are afraid to confront their children about drugs. "I'm afraid that our parents have dropped the ball in many cases," he said. "I have a line in my practice that if you are popular with your kids, you're doing something wrong."

 

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A new choice in drug abuse

Teens turn to prescriptions

By Tracy Jan and Lisa Wangsness

ARLINGTON, MA (The Boston Globe) January 29, 2006 -- As school systems step up monitoring students for alcohol abuse, police and health officials say more teenagers are getting high on prescription drugs like the anti-anxiety pill Klonopin, which family members said an Arlington teen took before killing himself last week.

The drug, distributed in tablets known by young people as K-pins, is harder to detect than alcohol and perceived to be safer than street drugs like heroin and cocaine. Klonopin is widely available in families' medicine cabinets and can be purchased online through offshore pharmacies for between $2 and $5 a dose, doctors said.

''Faculty in schools across the region have been very effective at cracking down on alcohol. To counter that, the kids now have gone to using Klonopin as the drug of choice," said Arlington Police Chief Frederick Ryan, who plans to talk to area police chiefs about the drug at an upcoming meeting.

Teenagers are experimenting with Klonopin and Vicodin even before they try traditional gateway drugs such as alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana, said Dr. John Knight, director of the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research at Children's Hospital.

The suicide of popular Arlington High School senior Cameron O'Connor and the subsequent arrest of two of his schoolmates for selling prescription drugs, including Klonopin, have renewed the call for random drug testing in some communities and more parent education about benzodiazepines, the class of drugs to which Klonopin and Xanax belong, in addition to opiates such as OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin.

While some principals and superintendents said they are unaware of Klonopin use among students, several Belmont students told parents last Thursday in an annual drug and alcohol forum that classmates are abusing prescription drugs, said Jonathan Landman, the principal of Belmont High.

''That's one theme that a number of us noticed which none of us noted in last year's panel," said Landman, adding that students did not name specific drugs. ''We need to learn what we can about it and figure out if there's something educational we can do."

In Arlington, O'Connor's death has prompted school officials to consider using drug-sniffing dogs to check lockers and testing students for drugs, a rare move among Massachusetts schools. Herb Levine, former Salem superintendent whose son, Joel, was addicted to OxyContin for three years, said yesterday that every school system in the state should consider randomly testing middle and high school students for drugs.

''It would give parents something to rely on," said Levine, who also spent 19 years as a high school principal. ''So many parents have no clue. If anybody should have known, I should have known. But still, for quite some time, my wife and I were fooled by our son when he was addicted."

Doctors noted, though, that standard drug tests used by schools often do not screen for prescription drugs.

New Bedford middle and high schools will start randomly testing students for drugs in March, said Carl Alves, coordinator of the city's drug-free student assistance program. The tests, for which parents voluntarily sign up their children, would screen for prescription drugs including benzodiazepines, he said.

''A lot of families in the suburbs have good medical care and will oftentimes have these drugs in their medicine cabinets," Alves said. ''With kids, availability and ease of use are two key factors when kids are using drugs. Klonopin doesn't smell, but you can still be high on it. And if there is a network of people selling these things, it's easy access."

Teenagers compared the high on Klonopin to being drunk, police said. When the drug is abused, it can be dangerous -- and when mixed with alcohol, it can be deadly, said Dr. Michael W. Shannon, chief of emergency medicine at Children's Hospital.

''People describe it as a very mellow high," Shannon said. ''If you mix it with something like alcohol, it makes you very inebriated. . . . It impairs judgment."

Shannon said he did not want to draw conclusions about the O'Connor case, but he said that particularly when combined with alcohol, ''it makes people do things they would otherwise not likely do, including take their lives."

O'Connor first tried Klonopin two months ago after a school semi-formal, said Joe Boike, O'Connor's uncle and a sergeant with the State Police. Boike and O'Connor's two brothers told the Globe that the 17-year-old was not depressed and said they believe Klonopin drove him to suicide. Police said they believe O'Connor took Klonopin before he died, but toxicology results are not back yet.

Shelley Rosenstock, spokeswoman for the Swiss-based Roche Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Klonopin, said she was not aware of teenagers abusing the drug and said the drug is safe when users consult their doctors.

A senior at Arlington High, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said prescription drug abuse seems to be on the rise at his school and others. He said most of the students he knows who take ''K-pins" buy them from students who have been prescribed the drug or who have access to someone else's prescription.

He believes the reason prescription drug abuse is popular is because there is little for teenagers to do in Arlington. Kids get sick of going to the movies or out to dinner, he said.

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Potent Mexican Meth Floods In as States Curb Domestic Variety

DES MOINES, IOWA  January 18, 2006 (The New York Times) -- In the seven months since Iowa passed a law restricting the sale of cold medicines used to make methamphetamine, seizures of homemade methamphetamine laboratories have dropped to just 20 a month from 120. People once terrified about the neighbor's house blowing up now walk up to the state's drug policy director, Marvin Van Haaften, at his local Wal-Mart to thank him for making them safer.

But Mr. Van Haaften, like officials in other states with similar restrictions, is now worried about a new problem: the drop in home-cooked methamphetamine has been met by a new flood of crystal methamphetamine coming largely from Mexico.

Sometimes called ice, crystal methamphetamine is far purer, and therefore even more highly addictive, than powdered home-cooked methamphetamine, a change that health officials say has led to greater risk of overdose. And because crystal methamphetamine costs more, the police say thefts are increasing, as people who once cooked at home now have to buy it.

The University of Iowa Burn Center, which in 2004 spent $2.8 million treating people whose skin had been scorched off by the toxic chemicals used to make methamphetamine at home, says it now sees hardly any cases of that sort. Drug treatment centers, on the other hand, say they are treating just as many or more methamphetamine addicts.

And although child welfare officials say they are removing fewer children from homes where parents are cooking the drug, the number of children being removed from homes where parents are using it has more than made up the difference.

"It's killing us, this Mexican ice," said Mr. Van Haaften, a former sheriff. "I'm not sure we can control it as well as we can the meth labs in your community."

The influx of the more potent drug shows the fierce hold of methamphetamine, which has devastated many towns once far removed from violent crime or drugs. As Congress prepares to restrict the sale of pseudoephedrine, the cold medicine ingredient that is used to make methamphetamine, officials here and in other states that have recently imposed similar restrictions caution that they fall far short of a solution.

"You can't legislate away demand," said Betty Oldenkamp, secretary of human services in South Dakota, where the governor this month proposed tightening a law that last year restricted customers to two packs of pseudoephedrine per store. "The law enforcement aspects are tremendously important, but we also have to do something to address the demand."

Here, officials boast that their law restricting pseudoephedrine, which took effect in May, has been faster than any other state's in reducing methamphetamine laboratories. Still, when Mr. Van Haaften, director of the Governor's Office of Drug Control Policy, surveyed the local police, 74 percent said that the law had not changed demand, and 61 percent said supply had remained steady or increased.

In a survey of treatment professionals, 92 percent said they had seen as many or more methamphetamine addicts; the state treated 6,000 in 2005 and expects to treat more than 7,000 this year, based on current trends. Some health officials said abuse among women, typically the biggest users of methamphetamine, was rising particularly fast.

While seizures of powdered methamphetamine declined to 4,572 in 2005 from 6,488 in 2001, seizures of crystal methamphetamine increased, to 2,025 from one.

Federal drug agents tend to describe ice as methamphetamine that is at least 90 percent pure. Officials here say much of their crystal methamphetamine is less pure - "dirty ice," they call it. But either is far more potent than homemade powdered methamphetamine; a "good cook" yields a drug that is about 42 percent pure, but around 25 percent is more common. And in the first four months after the law took effect here, average purity went to 80 percent from 47 percent.

Other states have seen the same.

"The Mexican drug cartels were right there to feed that demand," said Tom Cunningham, the drug task force coordinator for the district attorneys council for Oklahoma, the first state to put pseudoephedrine behind pharmacy counters, in 2004. "They have always supplied marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. When we took away the local meth lab, they simply added methamphetamine to the truck."

A methamphetamine cook could make an ounce for $50 on a stovetop or in a lab in a car; that same amount now costs $800 to $1,500 on the street, the police say.

"Our burglaries have just skyrocketed," said Jerry Furness, who represents Buchanan County, 150 miles northeast of Des Moines, on the Iowa drug task force. "The state asks how the decrease in meth labs has reduced danger to citizens, and it has, as far as potential explosions. But we've had a lot of burglaries where the occupants are home at the time, and that's probably more of a risk. So it's kind of evening out."

When the state surveyed the children in state protection in southeastern Iowa four months after the law took effect, it found that 49 percent were taken from parents who had been using methamphetamine, the same percentage as two years earlier, even as police said they were removing fewer children from homes with laboratories.

Some law enforcement officials say that addicts may find the crystal form more desirable. "If they don't have to mess with precursor chemicals, it's actually a bit easier on them, and safer," said Kevin Glaser, a drug task force supervisor for the state highway patrol in Missouri, which last year led the nation in methamphetamine lab seizures.

But the switch has also increased the risks. "People are overdosing; they're not expecting it to do this much," said Darcy Jensen, director of Prairie View Prevention Services in South Dakota. "They don't realize that that fourth of a gram they're used to using is double or triple in potency."

Federal officials say there are 1.4 million methamphetamine addicts in the United States, concentrated in the West, where the drug began to take hold in the late 1980's, and the Midwest and South, where it moved in the mid- and late 1990's.

Drug enforcement officials have always said that 80 percent of the nation's supply comes from so-called super labs, those able to make 10 pounds or more. But in some counties here, officials say that all the methamphetamine came from mom-and-pop labs that made the drug by cooking pseudoephedrine with toxic farm and household chemicals.

Law enforcement focused on the laboratories because they were so destructive: the police found children who had drunk lye thinking it was water, or went without food as parents went through the long binge-and-sleep cycles of using. Laboratories in homes, motels, abandoned farm buildings or cars frequently exploded, or dumped their toxic chemicals into drains or soil. Small police departments spent much of their time attending to contaminated sites.

More than 30 states have restricted pseudoephedrine in some way. Nine have put it behind pharmacy counters, and Oregon now requires a prescription to obtain it.

Addicts and cookers have proved to be skilled at getting around the restrictions; as one state imposes a law, bordering states see an increase in laboratories. Oklahoma recently linked its pharmacies by a computer database to track sales after discovering that cooks were going county-to-county buying from several pharmacies a day.

Iowa's law passed unanimously. As in other states, officials say the number of laboratories had already begun to decline, most likely because cooks feared they would be caught because there was so much public attention on the problem.

The law resulted in a decline of at least 80 percent. Police found 138 laboratories from June to December, down from 673 for the same period the year before. The state had hit a high of 1,500 lab busts in 2004, but with the law, had 731 for 2005, and expects just 257 this year. Law enforcement says the costs of policing and cleaning up labs will drop to $528,000 next year from $2.6 million in 2004.

But here and in many of the states with recent pseudoephedrine restrictions, frustration with the stubborn rate of addiction has moved the discussion from enforcement to treatment and demand reduction.

That discussion, officials say, will be much tougher.

After listening to Mr. Van Haaften's report on the effects of the law this week, State Representative Clel Baudler, a former state trooper who now heads the public safety committee for the Iowa General Assembly, charged his committee to come back to the next meeting with strategies to reduce demand.

"My fear is, when I ask what they think we should do, they'll say 'I don't know,' " Mr. Baudler said in an interview afterward. "We've increased penalties, we've increased prison time, we're still not getting in front of it."

Officials say they never advertised the law as one that would reduce methamphetamine addiction. Still, they are surprised at how the drug has hung on.

"Things that are highly destructive, including diseases, tend to be self-limiting," said Arthur Schut, president of the Mid-Eastern Council on Chemical Abuse in Iowa City, and a member of the state's drug policy advisory council. "This has been devastating. It's remarkable how quickly people are damaged by it."

Mr. Van Haaften, too, knows that it was too much to hope that the law would reduce demand. Still, he says, "I had a little hope."

"I knew of the addictive nature, but in my heart, I believed people didn't want to deal with dealers," he said. "They have guns, it's dangerous, if you make your own it's safer. I hoped for a dip, but the availability did not allow that to happen."

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Study Finds Heroin Doesn't Hook with One Hit

MELBOURNE, Australia (Melbourne Age) November 8, 2005 -- British researchers say a recent study debunks the theory that heroin users can get hooked on the drug after taking the drug just one or two times.

University of Plymouth researchers led by Ross Coomber said that their study of 72 heroin users showed that "some people took five years, some people took six months" to get addicted, Coomber said. But, he added, "Regardless of the length of time that any of these people took, none of them were instantly addicted."

"The reality is that addiction is a very complex interaction of social circumstances, personality and context in which people are using as well as the drug," Coomber said.

Even people who used heroin regularly -- up to three times weekly -- took an average of nine months to become daily users, the study found.

Coomber presented his findings at the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs conference in Melbourne, Australia, this week.
 

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Methamphetamine Addiction Rate Climbs

Washington, DC (Join Together.org) The recently released 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that the percentage of the nation's estimated 600,000 monthly meth users who met the criteria for dependence rose from 27.5 percent (164,000) in 2002 to 59.3 percent (346,000) in 2004. Methamphetamine use rates have not increased in recent years, but more meth users are dependent on the drug, according to research from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

"Methamphetamine is undeniably a uniquely destructive drug," said SAMHSA Administrator Charles Curie. "While rates of use have remained relatively stable over the past few years, these new findings show that an increasing proportion of methamphetamine users are developing problems of drug abuse and dependence and are in need of treatment."

New users of methamphetamine also remained steady at about 318,000 in 2004, SAMHSA said.

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Peyote Not Harmful to American Indians

BOSTON (AP) November 3, 2005 -- A study of the effects of peyote on American Indians found no evidence that the hallucinogenic cactus caused brain damage or psychological problems among people who used it frequently in religious ceremonies.

In fact, researchers from Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital found that members of the Native American Church performed better on some psychological tests than other Navajos who did not regularly use peyote.

A 1994 federal law allows roughly 300,000 members of the Native American Church to use peyote as a religious sacrament. The five-year study set out to find scientific proof for the Navajos' belief that the substance, which contains the hallucinogen mescaline, is not hazardous to their health even when used frequently.

The study was conducted among Navajos in the Southwest by McLean psychiatrist John Halpern. It compared test results for 60 church members who have used peyote at least 100 times against those for 79 Navajos who do not regularly use peyote and 36 tribe members with a history of alcohol abuse but minimal peyote use.

Those who had abused alcohol fared worse on the tests than the church members, according to the study.

Church members believe peyote offers them spiritual and physical healing, but the researchers could not say with any certainty that peyote's pharmacological effects were responsible for their test results.

``It's hard to know how much of it is the sense of community they get (from the religion) and how much of it is the actual experience of using the medication itself,'' said Harrison Pope, the study's senior author and director of the biological psychology laboratory at the hospital near Boston.

The researchers argue that their findings should offer ``reassurance'' to the 10,000 Native American Church members serving in the military who were barred from using peyote before new guidelines were adopted in 1997.

``We find no evidence that a history of peyote use would compromise the psychological or cognitive abilities of these individuals,'' they wrote in their paper published in the Nov. 4 issue of Biological Psychiatry.

The researchers note that their study draws a clear distinction between illicit and religious use of peyote. They did not rule out the possibility that other hallucinogens, such as LSD, may be harmful.

``In comparison to LSD, mescaline is described as more sensual and perceptual and less altering of thought and sense of self,'' they wrote, adding that peyote does not seem to produce ``flashbacks'' the same way that LSD apparently does.

The project was funded in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A NIDA spokeswoman would not comment on the study.

Lester Grinspoon, a Harvard Medical School psychiatry professor who was not involved in the research, said the study lends scientific weight to a long-held belief that peyote is not harmful.

``The thing that excites me most about the paper is that the study was actually done,'' he said. ``The U.S. government - and NIDA, in particular - has been rather balky about allowing studies of psychedelic drugs of any kind.''

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Teen Drinking On The Rise

WASHINGTON (The Houston Chronicle) October 31, 2005 -- With nearly 30 percent of 12- to 20-year-olds reporting they drank alcohol in the last month, the top federal health official said Monday that underage drinking is a 'significant national problem" and asked states to rededicate themselves to combating it.

About 7.4 million — or almost 20 percent — of people between the ages of 12 and 20 are binge drinkers, according to 2004 data compiled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Michael Leavitt, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, told a conference on underage drinking that this has proven to be "a persistent problem," even as the U.S. has "made great progress in educating America's youth about the dangers of tobacco and drug abuse."

Leavitt recommended state health officials educate the public through town hall meetings. He also said a new series of public service announcements aimed at getting parents to talk to their kids about alcohol will help fight underage drinking.

Ting-Kai Li, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, said that while alarming, drinking among American children and teenagers is actually less frequent than that of European countries where laws on alcohol consumption are less stringent.

In Denmark, for example, about 85 percent of 15-year-olds drank to intoxication during the last 12 months, as compared to about 35 percent of Americans the same age.

Copyright 2005 The Houston Chronicle

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Children Exposed to Meth Can Be Helped, Expert Says

Des Monies, Iowa (Ottawa Sun) October 24, 2005 -- Children exposed to alcohol in utero often suffer permanent brain damage, but those exposed to methamphetamine or cocaine can recover without lasting ill-effects, according to a leading expert on meth-exposed children.

The Ottawa Sun reported Oct. 24 that child-welfare officials in states like Iowa are encountering thousands of children each year with drugs in their systems.

Rizwan Shah, M.D., a pediatrician at Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines, said he sees up to six meth-exposed children daily. Shah said methamphetamine use during pregnancy will have the same effects on the fetus as on the mother -- including diminished ability to learn new skills and interact with the outside world.

"The brain has to be able to develop appropriate responses and not get overwhelmed and stressed out," Shah said. "And methamphetamine babies do show deficiencies in their ability to accommodate those changes that arise as a part of their social interaction and their body functions, like sleeping and eating."

But these impairments need not be permanent. "Alcohol is the only drug that can cause mental retardation in a child," Shah said. "Fetal alcohol syndrome babies, 80 percent of them are mentally retarded. Neither crack cocaine nor methamphetamine cause mental retardation."

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Cough Syrup Abuse Cases High in Houston

HOUSTON, TX (AP) August 16, 2005-- Houston has become known nationally as the "City of Syrup" because the abuse of codeine-fortified cough syrup among the city's youth is so widespread, a local researcher says.

The reputation is reflected in a trial that begins Tuesday of six pharmacists charged with illegally dispensing the highly addictive prescription cough syrup codeine with promethazine.

About 30 percent of the teenagers in the Houston area have used the syrup at least once, said Ron Peters, a professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston.

The figures from Peter's 2004 study top his 2003 study, which showed 25 percent of teenagers at six alternative schools in Harris County had used the drug at least once. Peters did not name the schools.

"Anything over 4 percent in the last 30 days is a major drug problem," Peters said.

Troy Jefferson, who heads a drug treatment center for children and adolescents at Riverside General Hospital in Houston, said those figures may be too conservative.

Jefferson said that, out of more than 5,000 teens treated at the clinic in the past seven years, as many as 35 percent had tried prescription cough syrup more than once.

Jury selection begins today in the retrial of pharmacists John David Wiley III, 40, and Anthony Dwayne Essett, 38, co-owners of I-10 East Pharmaceutical Services; Otukayode Adeleke Otufale, 44, owner of Med Stop Pharmacy; Isaac Simeon Achobe, 50, owner of American Choice Pharmacy; and Chicha Kazembe Combs, 29, and Andre Dion Brown, 37, co-owners of Mason Road Pharmacy in Katy.

U.S. District Judge David Hittner ordered the retrial after a jury in May was unable to reach a verdict.

The six are charged in a 170-count indictment of illegally dispensing thousands of gallons of the cough syrup and thousands of tablets of hydrocodone, a synthetic narcotic used as a painkiller. They also are charged with conspiracy and money laundering.

Rap music developed by a Houston record producer D.J. Screw reportedly promotes the drug known on the street as "syrup, lean, purple, syzurp, drank or purple jelly."

The producer, whose real name was Robert Earl Davis Jr., developed a slowed-down form of rap called "screwed." He died in 2000 of an overdose of the drug.

Peters said screwed music and the abuse of the cough syrup has spread nationwide and into Canada. The popularity has given Houston nicknames such as "City of Syrup and City of Lean," he said.

"Now, Houston is setting the trend for the drug culture and it is being spread through rap," he said. "This is something that is a major problem throughout the United States."

 

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Meth Becomes Bigger Workplace Problem

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson Citizen) August 8, 2005 -- Many workers use methamphetamine to stay awake for second jobs or to sharpen concentration. But use of the drug ultimately costs both workers and employers big.

"Initially, it does increase performance and concentration, all the things you want in an employee," says Carol Falkowski, director of research communications at Hazelden. "(Users) take it to function. It has broad appeal to people who have too much to do and are too stressed. That's all of us."

Model, actor, and waiter Scott Chubb, 31, used meth for seven years to help keep up his hectic lifestyle. Eventually, a $60 bag of meth that used to last a week was only lasting a few hours, and Chubb's health and appearance deteriorated. One day in 2004, he took off from work and checked into treatment.

"I needed to leave," says Chubb. "I needed to find help. I was living a double life. I quit cold turkey that day. I stopped using drugs, but it wasn't easy."

Positive drug tests for amphetamines in the workplace jumped 6 percent last year and 44 percent in 2003, even as use of other drugs appeared to decline. "Drug abuse in the workplace is decreasing, but ironically, methamphetamine positives are increasing," said Mark de Bernardo, executive director of the Institute for a Drug-Free Workplace in Washington.

Costs to employers including increased absenteeism, theft, or even workplace violence are associated with meth use. "(Methamphetamine) is a big issue and an area of concern from employers," said Barry Sample at Quest Diagnostics, a drug-testing firm based in Lyndhurst, N.J. "You can't necessarily tell (if an employee is addicted). They need to feed this habit. They're going to have ill health effects. They're going to modify behavior to obtain the drugs by any means."

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Meth Sting Snares 49 Clerks

GEORGIA (The New York Times) August 4, 2005 -- A sting operation in rural Georgia hoped to catch convenience-store clerks knowingly selling supplies to manufacture methamphetamine. But critics say the campaign entrapped workers with limited English skills who may not have understood the questions they were being asked.

Federal officials, under Operation Meth Merchant, charged 49 clerks with selling meth-making materials, using hidden microphones and cameras as evidence. However, a review of those recordings leaves unclear the question of whether the clerks knowingly supplied cold medicine, matches, and camping fuel for the purpose of making meth.

Of those arrested, 44 were Indian immigrants, and many knew little English other than phrases used to conduct business with customers. So, when an undercover agent told a clerk he needed supplies to "finish up a cook" -- the clerks may have figured that the customer was using slang for having a barbecue, not cooking meth.

U.S. Attorney David Nahmas countered: "It's not that they should have known. In virtually or maybe all of the cases, they did know." He said that the investigation was launched after local sheriffs complained that certain stores were catering to meth-lab operators.

In one case, an informant asked a clerk for Pseudo 60, a potent cold drug containing pseudoephedrine. The clerk replied, "Police guy came here said don't sell. Misuse. Public misuse."

The informant replied: "I know what they're doing with it, because that's what I'm going to do with it."

"Yah," the clerk replied, "public misuse." The informant then found another cold medicine, and the clerk told him he was only allowed to sell one bottle at a time. When the informant asked if a friend could come in and buy a second bottle, the clerk replied: "Yeah, but I cannot sell two to one guy."

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Meth Top Drug Problem

Associated Press July 5, 2005 -- Methamphetamine, not marijuana, is the biggest drug problem for counties across the U.S., according to a new report from the National Association of Counties which found that 58 percent of the 500 law-enforcement agencies questioned in 45 states said that meth is their major drug headache, far surpassing cocaine, marijuana, and heroin.

The federal government typically calls marijuana the nation's biggest drug problem, but the report said "county law-enforcement officials have a different perspective on this ranking. With the growth of this drug from the rural areas of the western and northwestern regions of this country and its slow but continuing spread to the east, local law-enforcement officials see [meth] as their number-one drug problem."

Counties on the West Coast and Upper Midwest were most likely to cite meth; in the Northeast, just 4 percent of counties named meth their biggest problem (46 percent named heroin).

But the survey indicted that meth is rapidly becoming a nationwide problem: 87 percent of agencies reported an increase in meth-related arrests. An accompanying report called meth use an "epidemic ... affecting urban, suburban, and rural communities nationwide."

40% of stores fail meth-law checkup


DuPage County businesses warned

By Angela Rozas
Chicago Tribune

Published June 8, 2005

A check of DuPage County stores Tuesday showed that 40 percent did not comply with a new law requiring they keep some cold medicines illegally used to make methamphetamine behind the counter or not sell more than two packs at a time, Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan said Tuesday.

The compliance check came on the heels of a police bust of an alleged methamphetamine laboratory in an upscale Burr Ridge neighborhood June 2, in which two people were arrested for allegedly making the drug in a shed behind their home.

Madigan enlisted the help of the DuPage County sheriff's office, as well as the Naperville, Wheaton and Lombard Police Departments, sending plainclothes officers into various stores in the county. There, they checked to see if any adult-strength medicines with ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, key ingredients in making methamphetamine, were displayed on store shelves or behind counters, and if they could buy more than two packs, Madigan said.

Of the 32 inspected, 25 sold the products and 15 of those did so correctly, she said. But 10 of the stores, including big-box retailers, pharmacies and a grocery, did not.

The stores were given warnings and packets of information about the law and how to comply with it, including how to train employees, she said. The stores were not cited because the agency is trying to educate stores about the new law before punishing them, she said.

"This first time around, the goal is to raise awareness, rather than penalize the stores," Madigan said. "We leave behind a whole package of information so they can educate themselves."

The stores were warned that local law enforcement agencies will follow up with more checks, and they could be fined, she said.

The agency has done 12 previous checks around the state since the law went into effect Jan. 1. DuPage County fared better than Chicago, which had a 50 percent compliance rate, but not as well as some other counties, such as Peoria and Tazwell, which had compliance rates of about 90 percent, she said.

Congress is working on legislation for a federal law that would mirror Illinois'.

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Cold drugs tweaked to fight `meth' scourge

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) July 3, 2005 -- Under pressure from law-enforcement agencies and state governments, drug companies have begun reformulating popular cold medicines to prevent criminals from converting them into methamphetamine.

"This is the direction we're moving," said Elizabeth Assey, spokeswoman for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a lobbying organization for the cold-medicine industry.

Pseudoephedrine, a main ingredient in over-the-counter drugs such as Sudafed and Sinutab, can be extracted by boiling down the medicines. Toxic chemicals are then used to turn the substance into "meth."

More than a dozen states have restricted access, either by allowing only pharmacies to sell drugs with pseudoephedrine or making retailers sell them from staffed counters. A May report by the Office of National Drug Control Policy found a 50 percent drop in the number of meth labs in Oklahoma and Oregon, two of the first states to enact such restrictions.

But law-enforcement officials and others believe that reformulating the drugs can reduce the problem even more, by helping shut down the small labs operating nationwide.

The methamphetamine problem has been a growing scourge in recent years, with lab seizures by law-enforcement authorities increasing from 6,777 in 1999 to 10,182 in 2003.

Pfizer Inc., the manufacturer of Sudafed and other leading pseudoephedrine products, plans to reformulate up to half of its line with phenylephrine by January.

Phenylephrine differs from pseudoephedrine by a single pair of oxygen and hydrogen atoms, a tiny but important difference that makes it impossible to transform phenylephrine into methamphetamine.

Leiner Health Products, which supplies generic cold and allergy drugs to retail chains such as Costco, Target, Walgreens and Wal-Mart, began shipping new products containing phenylephrine last month.

McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals, a division of Johnson & Johnson, reportedly also is considering reformulation of products, as are Wyeth and Schering-Plough.

Boehringer Ingelheim of Germany, the world's largest producer of phenylephrine, says it can boost production capacity by enough so the entire U.S. supply of pseudoephedrine could be replaced by 2006.

But pharmaceutical companies are moving cautiously to make sure substitutes are effective, and to await proposed federal legislation that could affect how they reformulate some of their products, said Assey.

"It's the first step in a long process, from an industry standpoint," she said.

The industry worries that reformulating remedies would require U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval that could take three to five years.

The concern is being addressed in federal legislation proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.).

Under the bill, consumers buying cold remedies would have to show a photo identification, sign a log and be limited to 7.5 grams--or about 250 30-milligram pills--in a 30-day period. Computer tracking would prevent customers from exceeding the limit at other stores.

The latest draft of the bill, sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, also would expedite FDA approval of reformulated drugs.

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One in Three Young Adults Drink and Drive
 

WASHINGTON, DC (AP) June 30, 2005 -- About one in three adult drivers ages 21 to 25 have driven under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the past year, according to a new report, released today by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). These data also show that 16.6 percent of adult drivers ages 21 or older (30.7 million persons) reported driving while under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs during the past year.

SAMHSA extracted the data from the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003. The report, "Driving Under the Influence among Adult Drivers", estimates that among adult drivers ages 21 or older, 15.7 percent drove under the influence of alcohol, 4.3 percent drove under the influence of illicit drugs; and 3.0 percent drove under the combined influence of alcohol and drugs, during the past year.

"Most of us know someone who has been involved in or affected by a car crash with an impaired driver-a driver who had been drinking alcohol or using drugs," SAMHSA Administrator Charles Curie said. "Fortunately, educational efforts, policy changes, and new laws have helped reduce the number of alcohol and drug related driving deaths. However these new data show just how much work remains to be done to keep impaired drivers off the road. They are a danger to everyone."

The report found that older drivers are less likely than younger drivers to drive while under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs. The data showed that 33.8 percent of drivers ages 21-25 had done so. In comparison, 24.3 percent of those ages 26-34 drove while under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs and 18.5 percent of those ages 35 to 49 did so. Only 10 percent of those ages 50-64 drove under the influence of alcohol and illicit drugs in the past year, as did 3.4 percent of those ages 65 and older .

SAMHSA defines illicit drugs as marijuana, cocaine, inhalants, hallucinogens, heroin or non medical use of prescription drugs.

The data show 22 percent of male drivers ages 21 and older drove under the influence of alcohol or drugs, compared to 11.4 percent of females in 2002 and 2003.

SAMHSA estimated that 30.7 million Americans drove under the influence last year. "These new data show just how much work remains to be done to keep impaired drivers off the road," said SAMHSA Administrator Charles Curie. "They are a danger to everyone."
 

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Marijuana-Flavored Candy Blasted

ATLANTA, GA (AP) June 21, 2005 -- Marijuana-flavored lollipops with names such as Purple Haze, Acapulco Gold and Rasta are showing up on the shelves of convenience stores around the country, angering anti-drug advocates.

"It's nothing but dope candy, and that's nothing we need to be training our children to do," said Georgia state Sen. Vincent Fort, who has persuaded some convenience stores to stop selling the treats.

The confections are legal, because they are made with hemp oil, a common ingredient in health food, beauty supplies and other household products. The oil imparts a marijuana's grassy taste but not the high.

Merchants call them a harmless novelty for adults and insist they advise stores to sell only to people 18 and older.

"There are more than 70 million people in the United States who smoke marijuana. We're catering to the audience of people who are in that smoking culture," said Rick Watkins, marketing director for Corona, Calif.-based Chronic Candy, which uses the slogan "Every lick is like taking a hit."

An Atlanta company called Hydro Blunts markets a similar product under the name Kronic Kandy, which is made in the Netherlands.

New York City Councilwoman Margarita Lopez introduced a resolution condemning the candies when she saw them at convenience stores near schools in her district. She plans to hold hearings this summer.

At Junkman's Daughter, an Atlanta novelty shop, the suckers are sold near the cash register from a bucket labeled with a marijuana leaf.

"We've got probably every weird kind of candy there is in here," owner Pam Majors said. "If it was anything you could get high off of, we wouldn't carry it, obviously."

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Feds Sound New Warning About Marijuana Use

By PAULINE JELINEK

WASHINGTON (AP) May 4, 2005 -- Youngsters who use marijuana are more likely to develop serious mental health problems, the government said Tuesday. A private group said law enforcement increasingly is targeting people who smoke and deal the drug.

Past medical studies have linked marijuana with a greater incidence of mental disorders such as depression or schizophrenia. But questions remain about whether people who smoke marijuana at a young age are already predisposed to mental disorders, or whether the drug caused those disorders.

Government officials say recent research makes a stronger case that smoking marijuana is itself a causal agent in psychiatric symptoms, particularly schizophrenia.

``A growing body of evidence now demonstrates that smoking marijuana can increase the risk of serious mental health problems,'' said John P. Walters, director of the White House Office of Drug Control Policy.

Administration officials pointed to a handful of studies to make their case. One, from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, found adult marijuana smokers who first began using the drug before age 12 were twice as likely to have suffered a serious mental illness in the past year as those who began smoking after 18.

The ratio was 21 percent to 10.5 percent. Those who first started as teens also were at significantly higher risk.

Jennifer deVallance, spokeswoman for the White House drug office, said marijuana is the single largest drug of abuse in the nation, the strains are more potent than ever and more is known about health dangers.

``For the first time, more kids are seeking treatment for marijuana use than alcohol,'' she said.

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With U.S. Crackdowns, Meth Labs Proliferate in Mexico

SAN DIEGO, CA (Reuters) May 9, 2005 -- As more U.S. states crack down on illicit methamphetamine labs and tighten control over the chemicals used to make the drug, more meth labs are popping up in the border regions of Mexico.

The Mexican state of Baja California has experienced rapid growth in both meth labs and users, boosting the finances of local drug cartels and also contributing to growing violence. In Tijuana alone there are an estimated 60,000 meth users, and 300 deaths last year were attributed to the drug trade, officials say. Up to 5,000 drug kiosks sell meth in $5 bags across the city. Even some seemingly legitimate pharmacies sell the drug.

As supplies of meth-making chemicals from the U.S. dried up, Mexican cartels began buying them wholesale from China and setting up "super labs" in Tijuana, Mexicali, Ensenada, Rosarito, and other cities to produce large batches of meth.

"We are seeing a dramatic decrease in meth super labs that used to plague San Diego, and the majority of the methamphetamine that we are now seeing is of Mexican origin," said DEA regional spokesman Misha Piastro.

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1 in 5 Teens Abused Prescription Drugs

By LARRY McSHANE, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK, NY (AP) April 21, 2005 -- The nation's teenagers are increasingly trying prescription drugs such as Vicodin and OxyContin to get high, with the pill-popping members of "Generation Rx" often raiding their parents' medicine cabinets, according to the latest national study by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America

The 17th annual study on teen drug abuse, released Thursday morning, found that about one in five teenagers has abused a prescription painkiller — more than have experimented with either Ecstasy, cocaine, crack or LSD. One in 11 teens had abused over-the-counter products such as cough medicine, the study reported.

"For the first time, our national study finds that today's teens are more likely to have abused a prescription painkiller to get high than they are to have experimented with a variety of illegal drugs," said partnership Chairman Roy Bostock. "In other words, Generation Rx has arrived."

According to the survey, the most popular prescription drug abused by teens was Vicodin, with 18 percent — or about 4.3 million youths — reporting they had used it to get high. OxyContin and drugs for attention-deficit disorder such as Ritalin/Adderall followed with one in 10 teens reporting they had tried them.

Fewer than half the teens — 48 percent — said they saw "great risk" in experimenting with prescription medicines. "Ease of access" was cited as a major factor in trying the medications, with medicine cabinets at home or at friends' homes a likely source, the survey found.

It was only the second year that the survey had studied abuse of legal drugs. For the first time, the survey included a question about the use of over-the-counter products to get high. Nine percent, or about 2.2 million teens, had experimented with cough syrup and other such products, the survey reported.

The number of teens reporting marijuana use declined to 37 percent last year, compared with 42 percent a half-dozen years earlier. Over the same amount of time, ecstasy use declined from 12 percent to 9 percent, while methamphetamine trial dropped from 12 percent to 8 percent.

The 2004 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study surveyed more than 7,300 teens, the largest ongoing analysis of teen drug-related attitudes toward drugs in the country. Its margin of error is plus or minus 1.5 percent.

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Addicts Get Free Government Heroin


VANCOUVER, B.C. (AP) March 15, 2005 --  two-year study on giving free heroin to addicts got under way in Vancouver this week, as the first group of test subjects received and injected their drugs.

Three heroin addicts showed up at the clinic on Tuesday, the first of 157 users who will take part in the study. "Today, the treatment stage of the study begins," said spokesman Jim Boothroyd. "The clinical trial is fully up and running."

Half the group will get heroin, while the other half will get methadone; drugs will be taken under supervised conditions using clean needles, and users will get free medical care and $150 for taking part in the study.

An estimated 4,000 opiate addicts live in the downtown Vancouver neighborhood where the clinic is based; the study participants have all been addicted for five year or more and have previously failed in methadone or abstinence-based programs. Program participants will visit the clinic three times daily.

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Marijuana Addiction Treatment Increases

WASHINGTON, DC (AP) March 4, 2005 -- More people are entering treatment programs because of marijuana use, but while the government blames greater drug potency, others say the trend can be traced to the larger role courts play in treatment referrals.

A study from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that treatment admissions for marijuana-related problems rose from 45 per 100,000 population in 1992 to 118 per 100,000 population in 2002. The report said marijuana admissions rose in 41 states, declined in three states, and that data from other states was incomplete or inconclusive.

Federal anti-drug officials said the results showed that marijuana is a dangerous drug, tying the trend to the availability of more potent strains of the drug and increased use. "This report is a wake-up call for parents that marijuana is not a soft drug," said Tom Riley, a spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. "It's a much bigger part of the addiction problem than is generally understood."
 

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Parents Talking Less to Kids About Drugs

NEW YORK (Reuters) Feb. 22, 2005 -- The number of U.S. parents talking to their teenagers about drugs has dropped, perhaps reflecting the more relaxed attitudes of a generation that came of age in the late 1970s when U.S. teen drug use peaked, a study on Tuesday found.

In 2004, about 12 percent of U.S. parents never talked to their children about drugs, twice the level recorded in 1998, said Steve Dnistrian, vice president of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, which conducted the survey.

"This slippage worries us, because kids have got to hear about the problems of drug use from someone," said Dnistrian.

Some experts believe the drug experiences of the parents make them less likely to see risk for their children.

U.S. parents of teens grew up in a time when more adolescents used marijuana than today. In 1979, 60 percent of high school seniors said they had tried marijuana, while only 46 percent of seniors reported trying pot in 2003, the study found.

"We are probably talking about drug survivors, so from their point of view, parents think, 'What's the big deal if kids try drugs?"' said Dr. Herbert Kleber, director of Columbia University's Division on Substance Abuse, who was not associated with the study.

Kleber said the trend was worrying because today's drugs can be stronger than those used in the 1970s.

Today's marijuana can contain 12 percent or more of the mind-altering active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, compared with 1 to 3 percent in the 1970s, Kleber said.

"Children of today's generation are more likely to get in trouble with drugs if parents don't do something," he said.

Parental attitudes toward drug experimentation were also changing, the study found.

Some 43 percent of parents said there was little risk from young people trying marijuana once or twice, compared with 35 percent sharing that view in 1998.

Similar experimentation with cocaine was seen as posing only a slight risk by 12 percent of parents, compared with 7 percent six years ago.

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Meth Abuse Hitting Chicago

CHICAGO (Windy City Times) Feb. 23, 2005 -- A senior director of development with Howard Brown Health Center ( HBHC ) was arrested Feb. 16 at his place of employment on a charge of crystal methamphetamine possession with intent to distribute.

According to police spokesman Pat Camden, Michael Anderson was taken in after officers uncovered 109 grams of crystal meth—with a street value of $36,600—at Anderson’s residence at 747 W. Cornelia.

Officers also found a quantity of the date rape drug GHB on the kitchen table as well as two digital scales in the closet. Camden also said that when Anderson was arrested, police discovered two vials of what appeared to be crystal meth and GHB in his pants pocket. Officers found out where Anderson worked when they located a business card at his home.

Ironically, the officers in the district were planning on starting a crystal meth education program in conjunction with HBHC, Yamashiroya stated: “It was going to be similar to Operation: Play Safe [ an awareness campaign aimed primarily at Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood that called attention to the prevention of street crime ] .” However, he stressed that Anderson’s arrest would not sour the officers’ relationship with the facility.

Anderson’s arrest may have a higher profile than others related to crystal meth, but make no mistake—there have been many. For example, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that a Chicago Public Schools administrator, John Lowry, was busted last fall in the 2400 block of West McLean and that John Sloan, a schoolteacher, was arrested with $17,000 of meth in his apartment in the 3900 block of North Lake Shore Drive.

According to 23rd Police District Lieutenant Robert Stasch ( of the Tactical and Gang Unit ) , crystal meth use is skyrocketing. “We’re about here,” he said while holding his right hand in front of him—“and this is how far we have to go,” he told Windy City Times, holding his left hand about a foot higher. A reflection of the exponential use of the drug lies in the number of search warrants executed over the past two years. According to Stasch, the number rose from 14 in 2003 to 68 in 2004 ( from the tactical unit alone ) . “It’s spreading so quickly,” Stasch stated. “Meth is the crack cocaine of the 21st century.”

Part of the problem is that crystal meth is relatively inexpensive to make and the profits can be huge. “People can take the right ingredients and make a good amount for about $250 and then turn around and sell it for up to $18,000,” Stasch said.

Another problem is that the high is intense and long-lasting—sometimes stretching for days. A euphoria that intense and long can easily lure vulnerable people to destruction. “There’s a guy who I arrested [ recently ] ,” 23rd District officer Nenad Markovich said to Windy City Times during a talk on Feb. 8. “We executed a search warrant on him about eight months ago; he had a residence then. Due to his use, he lost his place—but every little bit of money he finds goes to getting more crystal. It just kills me.”

Several reports have pointed to the gay neighborhoods in Lakeview and Andersonville as being hotbeds of meth use. When asked why he thinks this is, Markovich formulated his own theory: “This drug can keep people up for 36 hours or more. I asked one guy why he’d want to be up for that long and he said, ‘So I can have sex.’ We often find Viagra with people who have crystal meth. People say that the drug keeps them partying.” Markovich said meth use seems to be drifting into the Bucktown and Wicker Park areas.

The state has tried to do its part to curb the manufacture of the drug. Illinois recently passed the Methamphetamine Manufacturing Chemical Retail Sale Control Act, which changes the way some businesses are packaging, displaying, and selling cold tablets. For instance, cold tablets that contain the chemical pseudoephedrine—used in making meth—may be placed behind the counter or in a locked case. The act requires other safeguards. First, the cold tablets must be sold in blister packs containing no more than three grams of ephedrine ( which can also be used to make the drug ) or pseudoephedrine in a package. Also, retailers may not sell more than two packages of cold tablets containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine at a time.

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Saliva Test Better Than Urine For Drugs

Detecting illegal drug use may one day become as simple as testing spit on a sponge.

Researchers last week said techniques now being developed for analyzing saliva may in the future replace many of the blood and urine tests that now are used to detect drug abuse and disease.

Some law enforcement agencies in Europe already test drugged drivers using saliva and the technique is gaining acceptance in the U.S., said Edward Cone, a Maryland researcher developing equipment for using oral fluids to screen for drug abuse.

"There are a lot of advantages to using oral fluid or spit," he said at a news conference of the national meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. "It is easily accessible, noninvasive and not embarrassing. You don't have to greet an employee with a urine cup."

Most people produce more than a quart of saliva a day. Researchers have found the oral fluids accurately mirror the proteins that are found in blood and urine. This means that simple spit could provide a diagnostic window on the body in tests not requiring a needle or the embarrassing collection of urine.

Cone said experiments have already shown that spit can be even more reliable than urine tests for drug use screening.

"Drug users have learned how to beat the urine test in a variety of ways," said Cone, an organic chemist who heads up firm near Annapolis, Md. "We haven't found any way to beat the oral fluids test."

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Study to look at Ecstasy as treatment



WASHINGTON, D.C. (Chicago Tribune) December 26, 2004 -- The illegal club drug Ecstasy can trigger euphoria among the dance club set, but can it ease the debilitating anxiety that cancer patients feel in their final days?

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a pilot study looking at whether the hallucinogen can help terminally ill patients lessen their fears and make it easier for them to deal with loved ones.

"End-of-life issues are very important and are getting more and more attention, and yet there are very few options for patients who are facing death," Dr. John Halpern, the Harvard research psychiatrist in charge of the study, said Monday.

The four-month study is expected to begin next spring. It will test the drug on 12 cancer patients in the Boston area.
 

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New Designer Drug: 2-CI

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A Hillsboro man was scheduled to be arraigned Monday on charges he was manufacturing drugs similar to Ecstasy.

Concord police say the arrest of Leon Griffin, 48, followed a five-month undercover investigation. Police said they seized several hundred capsules of illegal drugs along with various other substances and packaging materials from his home. The seized drugs have an estimated street value of more than $150,000, according to police.

Police say Griffin is believed to be the largest manufacturer and distributor of the new Club-type drugs called 2-C-I and 2-C-T-2.

Police in West Midlands, United Kingdom, have arrested 22 people - including three in Coventry and Warwickshire - who were suspected of buying 2-CI from the US on the internet.  The National Crime Squad (NCS) ran the two-week arrest operation using intelligence which came to light during an investigation by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The US investigation found that a man had died of an overdose of a drug called 2-CI which he bought from a web-site registered to a man in Las Vegas.  He was selling the drugs across the globe and the DEA believed that people in the UK were among his customers. Parcels containing 2-CI, a hallucinogen, were being imported into the UK. 

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Street Drug Prices Hit 20 Year Low

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Knight Ridder) December 6, 2004 -- Citing a report from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the Washington Office on Latin America questioned the effectiveness of the U.S. war on drugs. The report finds that the street prices for cocaine and heroin are at their lowest levels in 20 years.

According to the unreleased report, the street price of 2 grams of cocaine cost about $106 in the first half of 2003, down 14 percent from the previous year. Heroin, which sold for $329 a gram in 1981, sold for $60 a gram in the first half of 2003.

An ONDCP official, speaking anonymously, confirmed the figures, but said the figures in the report were old. But the Washington Office on Latin America criticized the ONDCP for not officially releasing price and purity numbers since 2000 because the data were "inconvenient."

"It strays too far from the message of imminent drug-war success, particularly around Plan Colombia," said John Walsh, a senior associate with the Washington Office on Latin America organization.

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Sudafed Acts to Curb Meth Production

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) December 22, 2004 -- The maker of Sudafed is offering a new version of the cold and allergy medicine without an ingredient often used to produce the illegal and highly addictive drug methamphetamine in homemade labs.

Pseudoephedrine will be replaced with another substance, phenylephrine, in a new product called Sudafed PE, which will become available Jan. 10 in the United States, Pfizer Inc. spokeswoman Erica Johnson said Wednesday. Pfizer will continue to offer the old Sudafed, too.

Johnson said the new formula will make it easier for consumers to buy the medication and could help curtail meth production.

In many states, pharmacists keep Sudafed and other cold medicines used to make meth behind a counter. Oklahoma requires that such medications be distributed by a pharmacist, a step also being considered in Indiana and other states hit hard by the drug epidemic.

``It's a matter of striking a balance between giving access to legitimate consumers of the medicine and preventing criminals from getting hold of the product to convert it to methamphetamine,'' Johnson said.

Johnson said the new formula has been sold for years in Europe and has proved safe and effective.

``Anything anybody can do to reduce the use of pseudoephedrine to make meth is a good thing,'' said Eric Lawrence, program manager for an Indiana State Police unit that searches for clandestine drug laboratories.

Last year, the Drug Enforcement Administration reported that more than 7,000 meth labs were dismantled nationwide.

The drug, a stimulant that can be injected, smoked or swallowed, has grown in popularity in recent years as its use and production have spread from the South and Southwest. It is most prevalent in California and the Midwest.

Indiana State Police expect to have dismantled 1,500 meth labs by the end of the year, up from 1,260 last year and just 27 in 1998.

Jim Braum, a pharmacist at the Oak Hill Pharmacy in Evansville who keeps Sudafed and other cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine behind the counter, said he doubts the new Sudafed formula alone will curb meth production.

``The other pseudoephedrine will still be out there,'' Braum said.

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Teen Drug Use Down, but Inhalant Use Up

WASHINGTON (AP) December 21, 2004 -- Fewer teenagers are smoking cigarettes or using illegal drugs, but a survey released Tuesday shows a troubling increase in the use of inhalants by younger adolescents.

The smoking rate among younger teens is half what it was in the mid-1990s, and drug use by that group is down by one-third, according to the University of Michigan study, done for the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Less dramatic strides have been made among older teens.

Health experts and government officials called the annual survey of eighth, 10th and 12th-graders a sign of continued progress in the effort to reduce youth drug use and said further declines would come only with a sustained public education campaign about the consequences of drug abuse.

Overall, illicit drug use among teens declined by 7 percent over the past year, and 17 percent over the last four years. There are now 600,000 fewer teens using drugs than there were in 2001.

``These are sustained, broad and deep declines,'' national drug policy director John Walters said at a news conference. ``The challenge before us is to follow through.''

Altogether, gains in 2004 over 2003 were modest. Researchers are troubled by increases - especially among eighth-graders - in the use of inhalants such as glue and aerosols, and a rise in the use of the pain-control narcotic OxyContin. Use of most other drugs declined or held steady.

Health officials said they are concerned that use of inhalants, which are easily accessible to children, may rebound unless children are warned about the grave dangers they pose. Inhalant use had been declining since 1995, when the Partnership for a Drug-Free America began an anti-inhalant media campaign.

``Research has found that even a single session of repeated inhalant abuse can disrupt heart rhythms and cause death from cardiac arrest or lower oxygen levels enough to cause suffocation,'' said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Researchers also noted the apparent growing popularity of OxyContin, a powerful and potentially addictive synthetic narcotic. Up to 5 percent of 12th-graders and smaller percentages of younger teens reported having tried it in the last year, the study showed. By contrast, 1 percent or less of teens had tried heroin in a year.

The survey found 15 percent of eighth-graders, 31 percent of 10th-graders and 39 percent of 12th-graders had used drugs in the previous year - down 1 percentage point or less from the year before.

This was the eighth consecutive year that smoking rates among surveyed teens dropped, a turnaround that began in 1996 among students in grades eight and 10 and a year later among 12th-graders.

Researchers credited higher cigarette prices, tighter marketing practices, anti-smoking ads and withdrawal of the Joe Camel logo among reasons smoking has fallen out of favor with more teens. Close to three-quarters of surveyed 12th graders now say they'd rather not date a smoker, up from close to two-thirds in 1977.

``When smoking makes a teen less attractive to the great majority of the opposite sex, as now appears to be the case, one of the long-imagined benefits for adolescent smoking is seriously undercut,'' said Lloyd Johnston, lead researcher for the Monitoring the Future study.

Overall, the percentage of eighth-graders who had ever tried cigarettes declined to 28 percent this year, down half a percentage point from 2003 and from a peak of 49 percent in 1996.

About 41 percent of 10th-graders had tried cigarettes, down 1 percentage point from a year earlier and from 61 percent in 1996.

And 53 percent of high school seniors had smoked at least once in their lives, down 1 percentage point from 2003 and from more than 65 percent in 1997.

Even so, cigarette use has hardly been stamped out among youth. The study reported that 25 percent of 12th-graders said they had smoked within 30 days of being surveyed, as did 16 percent of 10th-graders and 9 percent of eighth-graders.

The study also found that progress in discouraging teen drinking in recent years held steady for the lower grades in 2004. Researchers said it would take another year to know whether a small increase in drinking by seniors was real or a statistical blip.

The study questioned 50,000 students in about 400 schools nationwide as part of research that began three decades ago with high school seniors. Surveys of eighth-graders and 10th-graders were added in 1991.

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Euphoria lab raided at home

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL. (Miami Herald) December 4, 2004 -- Fort Lauderdale police and federal agents raided a drug lab late Thursday, where they said a Broward County employee was manufacturing ''pounds'' of a drug called euphoria.

It was ''one of the largest clandestine labs ever located in the city of Fort Lauderdale and the southeast part of the state,'' Fort Lauderdale police spokesman Andy Pallen said.

William Hahne, 46, was arrested at his home at 720 NE 17th Ct. in Fort Lauderdale, where police and agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration seized more than a kilogram of euphoria, chemicals and other equipment.

''The value is well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars,'' Pallen said Friday.

Hahne, who lives a few hundred feet from Fort Lauderdale High School, faces federal charges of possession with intent to distribute euphoria, according to Pallen.

A CrimeStoppers tipster led Fort Lauderdale police to Hahne, Pallen said. The tipster told police that Hahne had stolen chemicals from a storage area in the Broward Government Center in June and was using them to manufacture drugs in his home, Pallen said.

''It is a very elaborate laboratory set-up,'' Pallen said. ``He was very organized.''

Pallen said Hahn works as an engineer in the county building. Officials said he has a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Georgia Tech University.

Pallen said the DEA hasn't seen the drug in their labs in more than a decade. Euphoria can be injected, inhaled or taken orally. It shares chemical properties with amphetamines and ecstasy, but lasts longer, officials said.

It is used for intellectual enhancement for activities such as writing, said Rick Doblin of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. The drug reduces appetite and keeps people awake for as long as 36 hours, but does not create the jitters as methamphetamine does, he said. Doblin agreed that it is not widely used or known.

''I don't know anybody that can find it,'' he said.

Tom Angell of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy said he has never heard of euphoria. ''We just hope that law enforcement isn't giving a name to what they found. That could create some hysteria about something that doesn't really exist,'' he said.

Investigators seized the powder form of the drug. One pound of euphoria can sell for $15,000 or much more if packaged individually, Pallen said.

Pallen said the chemicals could have caused an explosion or fire if improperly mixed. If inhaled in a gaseous state, they can be deadly.

All chemicals have been removed from the home.

''At this time, there is no danger to the public,'' Pallen said.

Hahne has been making euphoria since June , according to a federal complaint. He received a substance used to make the drug from someone in California. Hahne would ship the individual the finished product through the mail. It would be distributed and the two would split the profits, the complaint said. Hahne's neighbors said they didn't know him well.

''He kept to himself pretty much,'' said Paul Many, who lives across the street.

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Growing Danger: Drugged driving

OHIO (USA Today) October 25, 2004 -- Ohio Highway Patrol Trooper Leonard Gray had stopped to direct traffic around a jackknifed truck in December 2002 when a car, traveling about 50 mph, hit him. Gray, 53, was flipped into the air, his head crashed into the car's windshield and he landed - unconscious, with his legs broken and head bloodied - on the pavement

The driver who hit Gray, 61-year-old Ronald Hamrick, had been convicted of drug possession previously and had cocaine in his system when he was tested seven hours after the accident, Hocking County assistant prosecutor David Sams says.

If Hamrick had been drinking alcohol and had registered a blood-alcohol level of 0.08%, the case against him would have been open and shut, Sams says: aggravated vehicular assault, with drunken driving as a factor in the charge.

But Ohio, like most states, has no legal standard for determining what level of drugs in a person's system makes him too impaired to drive. The lack of such a guideline often makes it difficult for prosecutors to prove cases of "drugged driving."

In Gray's case, Sams spent several months reconstructing the crash and getting analyses from drug specialists to show that Hamrick had been impaired by cocaine. Eventually, it worked: Hamrick pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular assault in September and will be sentenced today. He faces up to five years in prison.

"It's a felony under Ohio law to possess, much less use, cocaine," Sams says. "Yet we had to spend thousands of dollars on these experts to extrapolate back to the time of the accident to prove (Hamrick) had enough cocaine in his system that he shouldn't be driving."

More than 1.5 million people were arrested in the USA last year for driving drunk. Police departments and public health specialists estimate that at least as many people drive under the influence of drugs each year - and rarely are prosecuted for it.

Now, in an effort that is similar to the movement that began inspiring anti-drunken-driving laws a quarter-century ago, a growing number of government and law enforcement officials are pressing for laws that target drugged driving.

Congress, encouraged by White House anti-drug czar John Walters, is considering proposals that would use the lure of federal transportation money to push states to adopt what Sams wants in Ohio: "zero-tolerance" laws that would make it a crime for anyone to drive with any amount of illicit drugs in their system.

Only 11 states - Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah and Wisconsin - have such laws now. Nevada has a law that sets impairment guidelines for blood and urine testing for certain drugs, including marijuana, marijuana metabolites, heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine.

The bill in Congress, which passed both the House and Senate as part of transportation packages and is now being considered in a conference committee, is modeled after the federal anti-drunken-driving laws that are widely credited with making American roads safer. The law required states to adopt the 0.08% blood-alcohol standard by 2004 or lose federal transportation money.

In 2003, 17,013 people died in alcohol-related traffic crashes, a 3% drop from 2002. In 1982, 60% of the traffic fatalities across the nation were linked to alcohol; federal studies say alcohol is a factor in 40% of the traffic fatalities today.

No simple test

But it's clear that fighting drugged driving will be considerably more complicated than the war on drunken driving:

• For now, there is no widely available roadside testing device that can quickly detect drugs in a person's body, as the Breathalyzer does for alcohol.

Researchers are developing saliva and urine tests that eventually could make roadside drug tests as easy as a Breathalyzer. But the wide variety of illegal, prescription and over-the-counter drugs that can impair drivers - and the countless ways in which drugs can affect the body - make such tests a more complex challenge.

• Zero-tolerance laws for drugged driving likely would spur a wave of lawsuits over individual rights.

The Drug Policy Alliance, the Marijuana Policy Project and other groups that push for more liberal drug laws say they agree that people should not drive when they're high. But the groups say that the push for zero-tolerance laws is misguided and unfair because it would punish people for private behavior rather than for actions that harm others, such as driving impaired.

The groups say, for example, that the proposed laws could ensnare a recreational drug user who smokes marijuana at a party on a Friday and still has residues of the drug in his urine when he drives to work Monday - without showing any sign of being impaired.

The critics say that police could use zero-tolerance laws to target types of drivers, particularly young adults, whom the police believe are most likely to use drugs. And, the critics say, the proposed laws would have no effect on people who become impaired on legal drugs such as prescription tranquilizers or over-the-counter cold medicines.

"They are going to end up taking people with a Grateful Dead bumper sticker and dragging them down to the (police) station for a drug test," says Bill Piper, national affairs director for the Drug Policy Alliance, a non-profit based in New York City. "It's just a matter of time before they say you have to pass a drug test before you can get a driver's license."

Walters counters that authorities have to draw the line somewhere, and that a simple, clear guideline - like that used to determine alcohol intoxication - is needed to combat drugged driving. And besides, Walters says, drugs such as cocaine and marijuana are illegal, so a driver who tests positive likely has broken the law.

U.S. Rep. Rob Portman (news, bio, voting record), R-Ohio, is a sponsor of the zero-tolerance bill, known as the Drug Impaired Driving Enforcement Act of 2004. If the bill does not get all the way through Congress this year, Portman and other lawmakers say they will reintroduce it next year.

"For years, we have properly focused on drunk driving as a problem in this country," Portman says. "We have focused on it to a point where there has been a change in people's attitudes and behavior, and that has saved people's lives. Now we have to do that with drug use."

Tough cases to prove

In one way or another, every state makes it illegal to drive under the influence of drugs. But successful prosecutions on such charges are more difficult than they are for drunken driving because most states require police and prosecutors to prove that the drugs affected the driver to the point that he was unable to drive safely.

In a drunken-driving case, prosecutors can present the results of a roadside Breathalyzer test. But without a standard for impairment, most drugged-driving cases are based largely on the arresting officer's observations of the driver.

Defense attorneys usually can undermine an officer's testimony by focusing on how much expertise the officer has - or doesn't have - in recognizing signs of impairment from drug use. That's why, if a driver is arrested on drug and alcohol charges, prosecutors almost always build their case around the alcohol charge.

The lack of a nationwide standard for determining when a driver is impaired by drugs has prevented the U.S. government from figuring the precise number of drugged drivers nationwide each year, says Richard Compton, director of the Office of Research and Technology for the National Highway Safety Administration in Washington, D.C.

Using U.S. Census data and Monitoring the Future, a national survey of high school students conducted in 2003 by the University of Michigan, the White House anti-drug czar's office concluded that one in six high school seniors had admitted to having driven while they were high on drugs.

Compton says that in one study of fatal crashes in seven states, researchers tested drivers for about 50 commonly abused substances. They found that more than half the drivers had used alcohol and about 18% had used drugs.

Drivers taking legal drugs can be as dangerous as drivers who use cocaine or marijuana, Compton says. "A lot of people like to focus on illegal drugs," he says. "I'm more concerned about what's causing crashes. It could be illegal drugs. It could be over-the-counter drugs. It could be prescription drugs, or people who are ill. They feel rotten, they are tired, they buy something over the counter or maybe you have a drink or two and now you have a triple whammy. We don't want them on the road."

New detection devices

Tougher laws, more training for police officers and newly developed roadside tests would bolster cases against drugged drivers, says Scott Burns, deputy director for state and local affairs in Walters' office and a former county prosecutor.

Promising new roadside tests that use saliva from a driver's mouth are being tested in five states, Burns says.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (news - web sites) and the anti-drug czar's office are paying $1.5 million over three years to evaluate six devices that are now available, says J. Michael Walsh of The Walsh Group, a substance abuse research and consulting firm in Bethesda, Md., that is coordinating the research. Most of the devices are simple.

In one, a saliva sample swabbed from a driver's mouth is inserted into a machine, which analyzes the sample for several types of drugs.

Another device resembles a thermometer and is placed under a suspect's tongue for 60 seconds. It can be used to test for up to six drugs. The devices have not been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (news - web sites) for accuracy.

Almost all police officers in the USA are trained to spot signs of alcohol impairment.

But just 3% of officers nationwide are certified as drug recognition experts, known as DREs. With only 5,500 trained DREs in a nation with 18,000 police departments, most departments don't have any drug recognition experts. The DREs can be certified as experts by courts, giving extra weight to their testimony, Burns says.

Citizens Against Drug Impaired Drivers, based in Milwaukee, is pushing Congress and state legislators for more money to train officers as DREs, president Karen Tarney says. "Drugged driving is underreported because it's under-recognized by law enforcement," she says.

But Gray, who is still recovering from his injuries, says that governments must go beyond new laws to educate the public and make drugged driving unacceptable in the same way it became unfashionable to drive drunk.

Gray says that some drug users become adept at tricking the system. Young adults, aware of the stiff punishments for drinking and driving and of the shortcomings of the Breathalyzer tests, sometimes drink a small amount of alcohol after they smoke pot, Gray says. If they are stopped by police, officers then will smell the alcohol and give a Breathalyzer test. The motorists will test below the legal limit for alcohol in their system, and get off the hook.

"It scares me because it seems like the kids are not afraid" of driving high, says Gray, who was a trooper for 25 years before he had to retire on disability because of the accident. "They are more willing than ever to try the drugs. They don't drink. They won't try cigarettes because they know all about lung cancer. (But) they don't seem to know it's not a joke to drive on drugs."

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Teens Help Police Fight Underage Drinking

CHELSEA, MA (Boston Globe) Nov. 4, 2004 -- Police in Chelsea, Mass., are partnering with CHAMPION Youth/Chelsea Coalition to "sting" adults who help underage youth purchase alcohol.

As part of the initiative, adolescents take part in local stings with police outside liquor stores to catch adults who agree to buy alcohol for minors. Adults who are found guilty face fines of $2,000.

Chelsea Police Captain Brian Kyes said the stings, which police refer to as "shoulder-tap surveys," will continue for the next four to five years.

According to coalition member Amy Harris of the Chelsea Alcohol/Substance Abuse Program, underage drinking was identified in a study conducted by the coalition as the most serious problem affecting Chelsea youth.

"What we're addressing is a science-based model developed through the University of Minnesota.  It's basically a community-organizing program designed to reduce access to alcohol by changing community policies and practices," Harris said. "One of the practices we're looking at right now is the older people buying alcohol for young people. The research shows that when access is easy, alcohol consumption increases, and when access is less easy, the consumption goes down."

The coalition is also receiving support from the Chelsea School Committee, which is holding a Nov. 9 summit to discuss the results of the state's 2003 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Community members, leaders, parents, and school personnel will be attending the conference.

School Committee member Morrie Seigal said the study's results "shook us up a bit" in terms of alcohol and other drug use among students.

"We were aware that our kids -- like all high schools, because Chelsea is not the only one with this problem -- too many of our kids are involved with drugs and alcohol, so it's not something new," Seigal said. "What the school committee wants to do is ask the community to help us intensify the fight against these evils."

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Alert over date-rape cigarettes

SCOTLAND (Edinburgh Evening News) October 14, 2004 -- Students in Edinburgh have been put on date-rape alert over fears drugged cigarettes are being used to dope victims.

Edinburgh University Student Association (Eusa) has issued a warning against accepting cigarettes from strangers following reports that "fry" tobacco, which originated in the United States, is now being used by rapists in this country.

The potentially deadly cigarettes consist of tobacco or marijuana which has been dipped in embalming fluid and can induce psychosis, hallucinations, delusions and loss of consciousness.

Research in the US found criminals who used the cigarettes to prey on unwary victims reported them to be even more effective than traditional date-rape drugs, such as GHB (gamma hydroxy butane) and Rohypnol.

Last month, a woman in a Swansea nightclub was reported to be the first UK victim of the sick craze.

The warning from Eusa highlights the organization's concerns that students could be particularly at risk because of a culture of heavy social drinking and smoking.

The US website www.rapecrisisonline.com features a study carried out in the late 90s. The site reports: "According to a 1998 study by the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, those who smoke "fry" cigarettes experience toxic psychosis, hallucinations, delusions, and sometimes, unconsciousness. Some men who were interviewed for the study said "you can control a girl more than you can with [date-rape drug] Rohypnol™." Others stated the drug heightens a woman's sexual appetite."

Common street names for the treated cigarettes include amp, water-water, drank and wet-daddy.

The site warns that indications a cigarette could have been tampered with include a petrol smell when they burn, but it is believed there can also be no obvious signs.

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Progress Made on Drug Addiction Vaccine

BOCA RATON, FLD. (Wall Street Journal) October 5, 2004 -- Scientists report that they are inching closer to developing a vaccine that would effectively treat drug addiction.

Although the research is several years away from putting a vaccine on the market, the studies are meeting with success. The research suggests that the vaccine is able to activate the immune system to block the effects of substances such as cocaine or nicotine.

The vaccine works by producing antibodies to a certain substance. When that substance is used, the antibodies bind to it as it enters a person's system. In doing so, the vaccine stops most of the chemical from the drug from crossing into the brain. The substance is then metabolized by the liver and secreted from the body.

The two companies furthest along in the research are Nabi Biopharmaceuticals in Boca Raton, Fla., and Xenova Group PLC of Slough, England.

Nabi Biopharmaceuticals is working on a nicotine vaccine. The company has completed a trial involving 68 smokers to test safety and measure the levels of antibodies produced by the vaccine. The vaccine has also resulted in smoking cessation among a group of participants.

Xenova Group is working on a cocaine vaccine and reports that the vaccine has reduced relapse in a small group of cocaine users.
 

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Most Juvenile Crime Offenders Use Drugs, Study Says

WASHINGTON, DC (Associated Press) October, 6, 2004 -- A National Center on Addiction and Substance abuse study finds that four in five young people arrested for juvenile crimes had problems with alcohol and other drugs.

Furthermore, the study of the juvenile justice system found that addiction treatment for the 1.9 million arrested juvenile offenders is scarce; only 68,600 received any form of addiction treatment.

Also inadequate, according to the study, were mental-health services and education programs that meet state standards.

The five-year CASA study looked at juveniles aged 10 to 17 who were arrested for criminal activity. Of those arrested, 92 percent tested positive for marijuana and 14.4 percent tested positive for cocaine.

"Instead of helping, we are writing off these young Americans," said Joseph Califano Jr., chairman of CASA. "We are releasing them without attending to their needs for substance-abuse treatment and other services, punishing them without providing help to get back on track."

The researchers recommended a stronger focus on assessing juveniles' needs and offering treatment and other services.
 

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14.9 Million Workers Abuse Alcohol and Drugs

(About.Com) Approximately 10 percent of America's workforce, some 14.9 million full and part-time employees, regularly abuse or are dependent on alcohol or drugs, according to the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

According to a SAMSHA news release, "The survey found that of the 19.4 million adults (age 18 and over) characterized with abuse of or dependence on alcohol or drugs (19.4 million) in 2003, 14.9 million (77 percent) were employed either full or part time. This amounts to over ten percent of full-time workers as well as over ten percent of part-time workers."

Overall, 19.5 million Americans ages 12 and older, eight percent of this population, currently use illicit drugs. Of the 16.7 million adult users (18 and older) of illicit drugs in 2003, 74 percent were employed either full time or part time.

Most With Alcohol and Drug Problems Are Employed

"Employers who think alcohol and drug abuse will never be a problem in their workplace need to consider that more than three quarters of adults who have serious drug and or alcohol problems are employed," SAMHSA Administrator Charles Curie said. "Encouraging employees to find help when they need it can result in fewer accidents and fewer workers absent on Monday morning. It may even save an employee's life, family, or job."

"Creating a drug-free workplace program or enhancing an existing program can lead to a healthier, more productive work force and be an important part of solving one of our nation’s most persistent problems," Curie said.

Drinking among U.S. workers can threaten public safety, impair job performance, and result in costly medical, social, and other problems affecting employees and employers alike, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Productivity losses attributed to alcohol alone were estimated at $119 billion for 1995.

http://alcoholism.about.com/od/work/a/blsam040927.htm

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Workplace Meth Use on the Rise

(USA Today)  July 21, 2004 -- Methamphetamine use by employees jumped 68 percent last year and is on pace to surpass cocaine this year as the preferred illegal stimulant in the workplace.

Quest Diagnostics, which administered 7.1 million drug tests in 2003, reported the rise in meth use among workers and job applicants. Of every 1,000 workers and job applicants tested, an average of 3.2 tested positive for meth last year.

Ed Childress, special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), said the numbers are in line with the rise in meth-lab seizures. The number of labs seized by the DEA jumped from fewer than 8,000 in 1999 to 10,000 last year.

"It's pushed its way like a firestorm across the United States," Childress said.

The drug is particularly attractive among workers because it prevents fatigue and provides a feeling of self-confidence without a visible high.

Overall, marijuana remains by far the most popular drug, accounting for more than half of positive tests and about 3 positive tests per 100 given. In comparison, 3.2 in 1,000 tested positive for meth in 2003, up 68% from 1.9 in 2002.

Barry Sample, Quest's science and technology director, said methamphetamine use is what drove the 17% jump in amphetamine use from 2001 to 2002.

That increase was considered shocking but is dwarfed by last year's rise. The past six years, workplace amphetamine use has surged 145%.

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High Court: Contract Protects Cocaine-Using Worker 

PARKERSBURG, WV-(The News Sentinel) July 10, 2004 -- The state Supreme Court has overturned a Wood County Circuit Court's decision regarding a local company's firing of an employee for drug use. The heart of the matter resides with the definition of "dishonesty" and whether drug use would fall under that term.

According to an April 16, 2004, ruling by the Supreme Court, drug use cannot immediately be classified as dishonest.

The case stems from the March 6, 1998, termination of Danny L. Benson, then safety director for AJR Inc., a small heavy manufacturing company in Parkersburg. Benson was the son of a previous owner before AJR Inc. was sold to John Rhodes in 1997.

During an employee drug test in 1998, Benson and 11 other employees tested positive for drug use. Benson was offered a chance to resign, which he declined, and was then fired. The termination form listed the reason for the dismissal as "controlled substance testing" and "tested positive for cocaine," according to court documents

Benson's eight-year contract, part of the deal Rhodes agreed to when purchasing the company, listed only three conditions for termination: dishonesty, conviction of a felony or voluntary termination of the agreement. The supreme court ruling upheld Benson's suit at least in part by saying drug use and dishonesty are two separate and different reasons for termination of employment.

Chief Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard dissented on portions of the case and filed a separate opinion, blasting the court's decision.

"This court now says that AJR was wrong to fire a deceitful, coke-head safety director in a plant where tanks of acetylene, oxygen and other explosives are everywhere! The irony is that if there had been some explosion or other accident which killed or seriously injured another employee, the victim of that accident could have successfully sued under our workers' compensation deliberate intent statute and obtained a large verdict. This court doubtless would have upheld the large verdict based on the fact that the company allowed a cocaine user to be its safety director," Maynard wrote.

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Scientists Create New Date-Rape Drug Test

by Kristen Richer & Jason La -
Wednesday, June 30, 2004 The Daily Nexus

 
Ph.D. student Dawn Bravo has collaborated with chemistry Professor Stanley Parsons to develop a new, patented, more sensitive method of detecting the date-rape drug GHB. Danny Lewis / Daily Nexus
Ph.D. student Dawn Bravo has collaborated with chemistry Professor Stanley Parsons to develop a new, patented, more sensitive method of detecting the date-rape drug GHB.


UCSB researchers have developed a test that may help law enforcement and medical officials combat date rape.

The test, developed by chemistry Professor Stanley Parsons and Ph.D. student Dawn Bravo, allows for the detection of gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), a commonly used date-rape drug. UCSB received a patent for the drug test in March 2004 and is currently looking to market the test to a company interested in developing it into a commercial product. Current testing mechanisms on the market can only detect the presence of GHB when the dosage is dangerously high.

"There are tests out there already but they're not as sensitive and are prone to false positives," Bravo said. "This is the only one that's this sensitive and accurate."

Bravo said usage of the test extends beyond checking for GHB in drinks. Urine, blood and saliva can also now be tested for the drug because of the method's sensitivity.

"Our test is sensitive to 0.03 mg/mL - that's a really small amount necessary for a positive test," Bravo said. "It will be really important in treating comatose patients who have been potentially drugged, as well as for testing bar drinks."

Authorities have also complained that previous methods of testing are too complicated and expensive, Parsons said, often taking up to two days for test results. The newly developed test takes no more than two minutes to produce results, Bravo said.

Parsons said he originally developed the test because he had heard of problems with GHB in local bars. Santa Barbara business entrepreneur Harold Penn approached UCSB chemistry and biochemistry Professor David Harris and asked if a better test could be developed to detect GHB. Harris referred Penn to Parsons, who began the research. Penn subsequently wrote the first of two checks for an undisclosed amount of money to fund the research. At the time, Parsons was the chair of the Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and he asked Bravo to aid him in the research.

"She knows a lot about cloning and I knew we needed to clone the enzyme in the bacterium," Parsons said.

Bravo, a chemistry and biochemistry specialist, cloned the GHB dehydrogenase enzyme, naturally found in the Ralstonia eutropha bacterium. That enzyme was then combined with an already commercially available enzyme and a protein dye. The mixture reacts when GHB is added, creating a bright purple color.

"I did extensive research before I even started in the lab, and that's how I found that bacteria," Bravo said. "Another research group was studying bacteria and found it reacted with GHB to form polymers ... I knew it would react. We just had to figure out how to harness it."

Since the development of the test, Parsons said corporations have also expressed interest in marketing the method for professional use. In addition to over-the-counter sales to the general public, the new test can be used by law enforcement officers to test for GHB in the bloodstream of suspects in custody or possible rape victims.

"Commercially we want it to be available to ER physicians, doctoral forensic labs and hopefully on a test strip for women," Bravo said.

Although the test is more sensitive and can give more accurate results than previous methods, it is still susceptible to error when large quantities of alcohol are present. Parsons said a beverage with as little alcohol content as wine would be enough to throw off the test.

"The problem we're stuck at is to devise a test kit that might include a battery to heat and evaporate the alcohol," he said.

Even with the test's vulnerability to alcohol, Bravo said the potential benefits of the method are far-reaching.

"It was rewarding to work on something like this because I was always very motivated. Something like this can have instant benefits to humanity."

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Narco-Pops Newest Street Drug

Harrisburg, PA (AP) April 28, 2004 -- A narcotic painkiller that looks like a lollipop — designed to speed relief to cancer patients — is starting to show up in illegal sales with the nickname "perc-a-pop." The drug's ease of use and sweet taste have law enforcement officials worried about the potential for abuse.

Actiq, a berry-flavored lozenge on a stick, contains the synthetic opioid fentanyl.

"We're starting to see it emerge as a drug that is, as we call it, 'diverted,' which is a legally prescribed drug being used illegally," said Kevin Harley, spokesman for stateAttorney General Jerry Pappert. "It's a drug that is easily administered or taken by somebody who might be afraid to either take a pill, snort or inject a needle in their arm."

The attractive taste — described by the manufacturer as a "mild berry flavor" — makes abuse more likely, he added. Harley said each Actiq lozenge retails for $9.10. The street value of a perc-a-pop is $20.

"We started seeing them in Philly, and that's where we understand the nickname came from," he said.

Manufactured by Cephalon Inc., Actiq's active ingredient is absorbed by rubbing the lozenge against the inside of the cheek.

It is approved by the Food and Drug Administration to combat "breakthrough pain," flare-ups suffered by cancer patients who are already taking narcotics in more conventional liquid or pill form to cope with chronic pain.

"Like any opioid, there is a potential for misuse," said company spokeswoman Stacey Backhardt. She said the company believes, however, "there has not been a substantial diversion of this product in the state or elsewhere."

Fentanyl was first introduced as an intravenous anesthetic called Sublimaze in the 1960s. Besides being taken orally, it is also dispensed as a transdermal patch under the trade name Duragesic.

Hospitals in the lower 48 states reported 576 incidents of non-medical use of fentanyl products in 2000; the number rose to 1,506 by 2002.

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High-Potency Marijuana Sending Teens to ER, Rehab

LOS ANGELES (Los Angles Times) April 26, 2004 -- A growing number of teenagers and preteens are being treated at emergency rooms or are entering drug treatment as a result of using a highly potent type of marijuana, government officials say.

Although marijuana use by youths has declined overall since the mid-1990s, the latest statistics show an increase in more serious problems related to the drug. According to federal health officials, the number of marijuana-related emergency room visits for children ages 12 to 17 more than tripled since 1994, to 7,535 in 2001, the most recent year for which figures were available.

Most of the hospital visits were for an "unexpected reaction" to the drug, while "overdose" was listed in 10 percent of the cases, "chronic effects" in 6 percent, and "accident or injury" in 4 percent.

"The stereotypes of marijuana smoking are way out of date," said Michael Dennis, a research psychologist in Bloomington, Ill. "The kids we see are not only smoking stronger stuff at a younger age but their pattern of use might be three to six blunts -- the equivalent of three or four joints each -- just for themselves, in a day. That's got nothing to do with what Mom or Dad did in high school. It might as well be a different drug."

According to federal officials, the marijuana being taken by youngsters today is nearly twice as potent as it was in the 1980s. "There is no question marijuana can be addictive; that argument is over," said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "The most important thing right now is to understand the vulnerability of young, developing brains to these increased concentrations of cannabis."

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Abuse of cold medicine on rise

Some stores try to thwart teens

By Bonnie Miller Rubin
Chicago Tribune staff reporter

February 13, 2004

Emergency room physicians are reporting a sharp increase in teens abusing non-prescription cough and cold medicines, which are back in vogue as recreational drugs because the products are accessible and easier to take than ever before.

Users call it "skittles," "triple Cs" (for Coricidin HBP Cough & Cold tablets) or "robo-tripping" to describe its hallucinogenic effects. Medical personnel are calling it "an epidemic."

The latest concerns have caused some drugstore chains to limit purchases. But the efforts don't go far enough, say many critics, who are urging that all such products be sold strictly from behind the counter.

"It's not illegal to purchase. It's not even illegal to take in large quantities. It's just dangerous and foolish and that is what is scaring everybody," said Dr. Charles Nozicka, director of pediatric emergency medicine at St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates.

Nozicka estimates he has seen about 30 cold medicine-related overdoses in the last year.

While students have been guzzling cough syrup for years, this is a relatively new phenomenon. Sweet syrups would contain ingredients that cause vomiting before reaching doses large enough to hallucinate. Tablets don't have that effect.

The key ingredient is DXM, a cough suppressant that replaced opiates in the 1970s and can be found in more than 120 products, all safe when used as directed. But taking DXM in large quantities can cause slurred speech, tremors, seizures and even death. Because the product is at every pharmacy, the dangers are easy to dismiss, said experts.

While no national agency tracks fatalities, at least five have been attributed to cold medicines during the last year, including one in September at Illinois State University. More indicative of a growing problem: U.S. poison-control centers logged some 3,200 calls related to the substance in 2003--twice the number as in 2001. Locally, the Illinois Poison Center got 160 calls last year--an increase of 26 percent since 2001.

"It wasn't something we really noticed before 2001," said Dr. Michael Wahl, medical director of the Illinois Poison Center.

To raise awareness, the Chicago office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration issued a parental advisory last week, citing a "recent escalation" in area DXM abuse. In addition, the American Medical Association voted in December to pursue national restrictions on the products.

Dr. Tim Erickson, director of clinical toxicology at the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago, realized that this was quickly becoming the drug of choice when he searched for Coricidin and found stores were cleaned out.

"The word is out," Erickson said. "It has totally permeated the adolescent population--especially in the suburbs."

Mike, 17, first heard about DXM from friends at his northwest suburban high school.

"The main reason I did it every day is because it was just so available," said the senior, who asked that his last name not be used. "I didn't need a connection. ... I could steal it. I could get it for free."

The addiction remains stubbornly under the radar. Most cases don't end up in an emergency room. Even if they do, personnel don't regularly test for legal substances. And while marijuana and Ecstasy are still more popular, those substances usually arouse parental suspicion. No such alarms go off for cold products--especially in the winter.

"Kids can abuse a long time before adults suspect a problem, said Dr. Louis Kraus, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center, who brought the issue to the AMA. "Even physicians are basically in the dark about this ... but it's at every high school on the North Shore," said Kraus, who has a private practice in Deerfield.

While Mike was no stranger to pharmaceuticals, Coricidin quickly zoomed to the top of the list. At the lower doses, he would experience a pleasant euphoria "like a good body buzz." Most of the time, though, he would opt for about 20 of the red pills--or a few more than a box--which delivered something far more "intense." (Recommended dose: one every six hours).

Despite using the drug every day for about five months, Mike said he never OD'd. "But I was shaking a lot ... and I was at the point where I was stealing it all the time. ... My parents knew about a lot of stuff, but they were pretty clueless about this."

Eventually, his grades dropped and his parents "put two and two together" and brought him to Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Center, as well as Hazelden Clinic near St. Paul, for substance abuse treatment.

After three relapses, he said that he has been clean for two months and back at school, where he's just trying to get through his senior year.

Coricidin's manufacturer, Schering-Plough HealthCare Products, has stepped up efforts in recent months, including working with national retailers and anti-drug organizations, according to Mary Fran Faraji, spokeswoman for the New Jersey-based drugmaker.

Last month, Walgreens nationwide began limiting the sale of Coricidin HBP to three packages, with other chains--such as Osco and Dominick's--following suit. They leave it to the discretion of store managers whether to clamp down further.

But until all stores keep it out of reach, most health-care professionals won't be satisfied.

"It's a joke," Kraus said. "Kids who are shoplifting don't care about how much they can buy. Until it's behind the counter, we're going to continue to have an increasing problem."

DXM abuse increasing

State health-care professionals have seen a rise in the number of drug abuse cases involving DXM, an ingredient in cough syrup.

ILLINOIS POISON CENTER CALLS RELATED TO DXM

2001: 127
2002: 140
2003: 160

DXM (DEXTROMETHORPHAN)

Use: Cough suppressant commonly found in over-the counter cough medicines.

How it is abused: At higher than- recommended doses it can produce hallucinogenic effects and distorted perceptions of sight and sound.

Signs of abuse: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, poor coordination, rapid heart rate, dizziness. At very high doses, DXM can cause the inability to move arms or legs or talk, slowed breathing and even death.
 

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U.S. Stops Testing Criminals for Drug Use

The Department of Justice has ended theArrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) program, which tests criminals entering jail for drug use and uses the information to forecast new drug epidemics, theNew York Times reported Jan. 28.

Budget cuts were blamed by the Bush administration for the program's demise. The testing portion of the program costs $8.4 million a year. The budget bill recently passed by the U.S. Congress included $6 million a year in discretionary money for social-science research for the National Institute of Justice, a research arm of the Justice Department. In fiscal year 2003, the institute received $20 million.

"We can't put every dime into one methodology for drug testing," said Sarah V. Hart, director of the National Institute of Justice. "We have obligations to do research in many other areas of the criminal-justice system."

Started in 1986 under the Reagan administration, ADAM was implemented in 35 cities. It was used as a tool by law-enforcement officials and criminal-justice experts to help fight drugs and crime.

"This is a real loss," said Mark A. R. Kleiman, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Los Angeles and editor of The Drug Policy Analysis Bulletin. "Closing down ADAM indicates a complete lack of seriousness about getting a handle on the drug-abuse problem in this country."

An official in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy said the Bush administration is working on a less-expensive version of ADAM.

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Companies using new drug test

By Kris Maher
The Wall Street Journal
February 09, 2004

On a recent evening after most workers had gone home from Robert M. Sides Inc., a music company in Williamsport, Pa., three men went through the offices testing for the presence of drugs.

They brushed a narrow plastic tool that resembles a home-pregnancy test across telephone receivers, computer keyboards and mice, calculator keys, doorknobs, armrests and a coffeepot handle. Walking past worktables holding tools and stripped-down saxophones, the men wiped vise handles and light switches. In a bathroom, they dragged the tool across the sink faucet.

The men worked quietly, while Alysha Sides, the company's marketing director and a co-owner, stood a few feet away. When one test came up positive for cannabis, she leaned close to the device and frowned as she looked at a faint red line that signaled the presence of the drug.

"This has given us a great opportunity to get a sneak peek at what's going on," she said.

That peek represents a new twist in screening employees, a process stepped up at many companies since 9/11. While some employers require pre-employment drug tests of all new employees, many businesses are reluctant to screen current workers by requiring a urine sample - a state of affairs that's a perfect opportunity for Global Detection & Reporting Inc.

Based in New York, Global Detection markets the drug-wipe test used by Robert M. Sides and more than 100 other small employers. Since the drug wipe isn't used normally to pinpoint individual usage, Global Detection says it is less invasive. It is also less costly than traditional drug testing.

Securetec Contraband Detection & Identification Inc. of Williamsport, Pa., makes the test.

Global Detection says it costs employers $10 per employee for a "general assessment" of an office, testing for the presence of five drugs, including cannabis and cocaine. By comparison, a single urine-screen test performed by a laboratory to determine if an individual has recently used drugs is about $35.

Legal experts say workers would have little recourse against such testing, just as they can't stop a company from accessing e-mails written on a company computer.

"Anything that's in the workplace is fair game for a company," says Lawrence Lorber, a partner in the labor and employment practice group in the Washington office of New York law firm Proskauer Rose LLP. In general, he says, corporate drug-testing policies have held up almost universally to challenges in court.

The drug-wipe test works by collecting minute amounts of drugs secreted by the skin. Since trace amounts of drugs are commonly passed on items like dollar bills, the tool is calibrated to register amounts large enough to come from usage or direct handling. In the United States the test is used by law-enforcement agencies, including roughly 1,000 state and local groups, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Customs.

Ron Rutherford, who owns Intelisource Inc., a Cincinnati drug-testing company, has used the Global Detection test to screen about 20 companies in the past year and believes that because of its simplicity "it's going to take off like a rocket into space."

He did say, however, that several potential clients opted not to use the test due to concerns that employees would react negatively.

"Some of them view it as being kind of sneaky," Rutherford says of companies he approached. Half of the workplaces he did test showed the presence of drugs.

Using the test also could prove tricky for many employers who want to zero in on workers whom they suspect of using drugs. For one thing, a single drug-wipe test is typically used to test multiple work spaces. In addition, even if a phone or keyboard tests positive for drugs, testing the surface alone doesn't rule out contamination from another person.

On the other hand, the test could be useful to detect the presence of drugs generally.

"If a company wanted to employ this to get a general pulse check on is there drug use in the workplace, I think that could be information that is worth putting into the mix," says Bram Boyd, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Drug Litigation Policy Project. He worries, however, that some employers could use the test to harass certain employees.

Officials at Robert M. Sides say the company wants to use the wipe test in the workplace generally - for now - and hopes the test itself will be a deterrent for employees.

After the recent test, Sides informed workers about the test.

The company plans to continue drug-testing its offices on a regular basis as it develops a policy that could call for testing individual employees.

"We're going to cut this off at the pass," says Hugh Sides, the company's chief executive.

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Flood of Heroin Ravaging City

CHICAGO (Chicago Tribune) January 30, 2002 -- Chicago's heroin trafficking long has been over shadowed by the more popular and violent cocaine trade.  But it has enjoyed a renaissance for the last decade, investigators said, and is more dangerous today because the drug's [urity increased dramatically in the late 1990's.

For five consecutive years, the Chicago metropolitan area has led the nation in heroin-related emergency room visits—12,982 in 2002, an increase of 176 percent since 1995, according to the latest federal statistics available.

During the past two years, the Cook County medical examiner logged 628 deaths—six a week—from heroin and other opiate-related drug abuse.  A quarter of the men booked on criminal charges in Cook County test positive for heroin.

As a transportation hub, Chicago also is the only city in the United States with a steady supply of heroin from all four global sources: Southeast Asia, Southwest Asia, Mexico and South America, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

"These street gangs each have multiple sources if supply.  All roads lead to Chicago," said Patrick O'Dea, a DEA intelligence supervisor in Chicago.

That bountiful supply means street gangs can pay half as much or less per kilogram than they did in the late 1980s—for purer heroin. In the city's open-air drug markets, the traditional $10 "dime bag" is as much as 10 times more potent than it was 20 years ago.

"From a heroin consumer's point of view, its as good as it's ever been," said Dr. Westley Clark, director of the federal Center of Substance Abuse Treatment in Washington, D.C.  "It's a recipe for calamity."

Cocaine remains the most popular drug and dominates local interdiction efforts. Federal agents in Illinois seized 1,816 kilograms of cocaine in 2002 and only 13.9 kilograms of heroin.  Chicago police seized 50 kilograms of heroin in 2002.  Unlike the cocaine trade, which is controlled by cartels, the heroin business is run mostly by small "mom an pop" operations in Col0ombia that are hard to crack, O'Dea said.

The potential for higher profits also has drawn increased interest, O'Dea said. The wholesale price of a kilogram of cocaine in Chicago is $18,00 to $28,000.  A kilogram of heroin has a wholesale price of $100,000 or more. 

In 2002, the last year statistics are available, narcotics caused only 194 deaths in New York City but 499 in Chicago. 

Today's users are more likely to be suburban teens or professional. They start by snorting the drug but can quickly become as addicted as needle users, authorities said.

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Failure to test employee leads to big fine


Civil penalty sought against plant operator over 'fitness for duty'

By Kevin Boneske

KEWAUNEE, WI (The News-Chronicle) January 11, 2004 -- The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has proposed a $60,000 fine against Nuclear Management Company, operator of the Kewaunee Nuclear Power Plant, for a violation of worker "fitness for duty" requirements.

The fine stems from a 2001 incident in which a supervisor employed by Day and Zimmerman Nuclear Power System, a contractor at the Kewaunee plant, was accused of failing to require a worker be tested for alcohol after he detected the smell of alcohol on the worker.

To assure "fitness for duty" at nuclear plants, the NRC requires the testing of workers when drug or alcohol use is suspected. An investigation by the NRC Office of Investigations concluded that the supervisor deliberately violated the required "fitness for duty" procedures.

According to the NRC findings, two D&Z employees told the supervisor that they refused to work for a third D&Z employee because they believed the third employee was "a drunk."

In a letter to NMC site vice president Thomas Coutu, NRC Regional Administrator James Caldwell said the fine was proposed as a result of "the need to maintain a work environment that is free from the effects of drugs and alcohol."

NMC has taken corrective actions related to the incident, including counseling of the supervisor, modifying "fitness for duty" procedures and improving the employee "fitness for duty" program training.

NMC has been given until Jan. 29 to pay the fine or contest it. NMC spokesperson Sara Cassidy said the company is "still evaluating our response" to the proposed fine.

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Did Pain Medication Impair Ferry Pilot?

By Graham Rayman
Staff Writer

NEW YORK, NY (Newsday) January 7, 2004 -- Investigators are probing whether a prescription pain medication that has side effects including drowsiness and seizure played a role in the Oct. 15 Staten Island ferry crash, Newsday has learned.

Traces of the drug tramadol were discovered in blood samples taken from Asst. Capt. Richard Smith, who was alone at the wheel of the Andrew J. Barberi when it crashed into a Staten Island maintenance pier, killing 11 people and injuring 73, investigative sources said. The drug has been cited as a factor in 11 fatal transportation accidents.

Smith, 55, has told investigators that he blacked out prior to the crash, but much remains unclear about the episode. He attempted suicide after the accident and was later hospitalized for his injuries and for heart treatment. Authorities have said no alcohol or illegal drugs were found in his system.

The Staten Island resident was taking the drug for back pain that was so acute he could not sit squarely in his chair while driving the boat, sources said.

In addition to the tramadol, Smith reportedly was taking other medications, including a blood pressure drug and an over-the-counter pain killer.

Alan Abramson, an attorney for Smith, declined to comment on Smith's medical condition. A person who answered the door at Smith's home said he was not there, and Smith did not respond to a note left with the person.

A city official earlier reported that Smith's blood tests showed he had not taken any prescription drugs in the 12 to 14 hours before the accident. More extensive tests revealed tramadol, sources said.

Officials with the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Police Department and the U.S. Coast Guard, who are investigating the crash, declined to comment.

"We are looking at all of those issues," said NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway. "There has been no determination yet as to what role medications played. The issue of whether he did or did not disclose the use of drugs is also under investigation."

The U.S. Coast Guard, which oversees maritime safety, does not employ a list of prohibited drugs, but mariners are obligated to report use of medications during licensing renewal, a spokesman said.

Tom Cocola, a spokesman for the city Department of Transportation, said, "The employee is not obligated to tell DOT about this. That's why we want to see what we can do to change that situation."

Tramadol is a "synthetic opioid analgesic" for moderate to moderately severe pain, and it acts in the central nervous system, according to drug literature. It was first issued as Ultram in the United States in 1995 by New Jersey-based Ortho-McNeil following Food and Drug Administration approval. The company states that it has been prescribed for more than 21 million patients in the United States. A generic version is now available.

"If taken under a doctor's care and taken appropriately, the drug is safe and effective," said Doug Arbesfeld, a spokesman for Ortho-McNeil.

In a past report, the NTSB noted that the drug can cause "a decrease in complex task performance." The FDA-approved label warns that tramadol "may impair mental and/or physical ability required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks such as driving a car or operating machinery."

The Federal Aviation Administration prohibits pilots in all classes from using the drug. "It's a pain reliever that affects cognitive abilities, so, no, we would not permit its use," FAA spokeswoman Alison Duquette said.

The drug's label lists a number of possible reactions, especially if taken with anti-depressants, some heart medications and certain other pain relievers. Side effects include: drowsiness, dizziness, and, in some cases, seizure.

"It's possible that this was an influence, but it's difficult to assign the correct degree of responsibility to a specific drug because there are many factors involved," said Bert Spilker, a leading pharmacology consultant based in Maryland. Spilker cited age, weight and metabolism as factors that affect individual reactions to medication.

In 1996, the FDA ordered the manufacturer to add to the label warnings about the seizure risk and potential for dependency, and it sent a letter on the subject to doctors, FDA records show.

Larry Sasich, a pharmacist and research analyst with the watchdog group Public Citizen, said, "We didn't think that the drug should ever be approved and have advised our readers not to use the drug."

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Youth Drug Use Declines, But Alcohol, Future, are Concerns

December 19, 2003
by Bob Curley

The federal government's $180 million youth anti-drug media campaign may be paying dividends in terms of reduced youth marijuana use, according to data released today from the2003 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey. Tobacco, Ecstasy and LSD use also showed substantial declines. But the report's lead researcher says that while there is plenty of good news this year, the survey has some troubling warning signs about future drug-use trends.

The 2003 survey found that current use of marijuana fell 11 percent over the past two year, matching a goal set by the Bush administration, which has focused the bulk of its anti-drug advertising on marijuana use.

"Fewer teens are using drugs because of the deliberate and serious messages they have received about the dangers of drugs from their parents, leaders, and prevention efforts like ourNational Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign," said John Walters, director of the federalOffice of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

University of Michigan researcher Lloyd Johnston, the principal investigator for the survey, said it is "quite possible" that the media campaign "has had its intended effect." Johnson told Join Together that he drew this conclusion because the proportion of kids who say they have been exposed to anti-drug ads and that view marijuana negatively has risen as pot use has declined.

"You put these facts together and it looks like [the campaign] is having an effect," he said. "It's a logical deduction on our part; it hasn't been proven empirically."

Overall, current use of any illicit drug fell 11 percent between 2001 and 2003, from 19.4 percent of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders to 17.3 percent. However, one-third of students surveyed currently use alcohol, down 7 percent from 2001 but unchanged from 2002. Current cigarette use also declined, from 20.3 percent in 2001 to 16.6 percent in 2003.

The data, while positive overall, were not universally heartening. Use of powerful prescription drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin increased slightly, for instance, and use of cocaine, certain club drugs, and narcotics other than heroin was virtually unchanged over the two-year period studied.

Moreover, said Johnston, drug-use rates don't seem to be improving among younger teens, which could portend problems for the future. "I'm worried about getting another generation of kids who have not heard about drugs, because when you have things like the war in Iraq and 9/11, you don't hear much about drugs," he said. Johnston said just such a spike in drug use occurred after the first Gulf War, when national attention was diverted away from youth drug use.

"The 8th-graders have been harbingers of change observed later in the upper grades, so the fact that they are no longer showing declines in their use of a number of drugs could mean that the declines now being observed in the upper grades also will come to an end soon," Johnston said in a press statement on the report.

Good News on Illicit Drugs, But Attention to Alcohol Needed

David Rosenbloom, director of Join Together, called the data on illicit drug use and tobacco "very good news." But he said that the prevalence of alcohol as the nation's top drug of abuse among adolescents continues to be a cause for concern.

"It's distressing that progress against alcohol use -- the most frequently consumed illicit substance for teenagers -- has stalled over the past year," said Rosenbloom. "There are strong governmental and voluntary activities directed against illicit drug and tobacco use by children. But there is virtually no concerted action against teen drinking. We need a strong nationwide effort, consistent with the2003 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) recommendations, that involves parents, teens, governments, and private organizations in concerted action to prevent and reduce drinking by young people."

While last year's survey showed a decrease in overall alcohol use and heavy drinking occasions in all three grades, the researchers reported no statistically significant declines on these measures in the 2003 survey.

MTF's Johnston said that a media campaign on youth alcohol use similar to that currently targeting marijuana use would be valuable, noting that the anti-drunk driving campaigns waged by MADD and the Ad Council during the 1980s had a big impact on youth drinking and attitudes regarding alcohol use.

"There have been private-sector campaigns, but it would be ideal to see government money go into it, not just for alcohol but tobacco use, too," Johnston said. He added that such a campaign would need to be carefully crafted and vetted, noting that the initial ads in the ONDCP anti-drug campaign "weren't very effective because they didn't talk about the dangers of drugs and had to put these ONDCP tags on all the ads," which he said was a signal for kids to tune the messages out.

Tom Riley, a spokesperson for ONDCP, acknowledged that in the wake of the NAS report "a lot of people in the prevention community have been asking us about teen alcohol use, which is a huge problem." But while he said the current anti-drug media campaign could have a "spillover effect" on youth alcohol use, he said that Congress has limited the campaign to illicit-drug use.

Reasons for Declines Vary

While ONDCP credited the media campaign for the decrease in marijuana use, explanations for the decline in other drug use varied. Both lifetime and current use of ecstasy use fell sharply (to 5.5 percent and 1.1 percent of those surveyed, respectively), for example, and Johnston speculated that increased media coverage of the drug had helped raise perceptions about the drug's dangers among youth. LSD use continued a long pattern of decline, possibly because of decreased availability due to interdiction efforts.
 

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On Drugs, And On The Job

Between July 1999 and December 2002, 143 workers at local power plants tested positive for drugs or alcohol.
By SEAN ADKINS
The York Daily Record staff

 

YORK, PA (The York Daily Record) November 14, 2003 -- Late in the afternoon of Sept. 24, 1999, a Three Mile Island security officer checked a tip about a short-term contractor smoking marijuana on the job. Officer Darlene Ranck escorted George Lonnie McDaniel, 27, to TMI’s security office to be questioned for violating the plant’s Fitness-for-Duty Program. Ranck and Officer Greg DeHoff asked McDaniel to empty his pockets. The Jessup, Ga., resident pulled a small plastic bag of marijuana from his pocket, and plant security officers called the Pennsylvania State Police, according to an affidavit filed with District Justice David H. Judy in Dauphin County.

McDaniel’s job at TMI did not grant him access to vital areas of the plant. Currently, Dauphin County has a fugitive warrant out for McDaniel’s arrest. He could not be reached for comment for this article.

Between July 1999 and December 2002, 143 workers and short-term contractors at Three Mile Island and Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station tested positive for drugs or alcohol, according to biannual Fitness-for-Duty reports. The York Daily Record obtained the reports from the U.S. Nuclear Regulator Commission through a Freedom of Information Act request. Drugs listed in the reports include marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines and alcohol. All the workers tested were people who had or were applying for unescorted access to vital areas of the plants. Many were short-term workers, such as McDaniel. They travel the nation, from power plant to power plant, to work when reactors are shut down for refueling.

State Rep. Bruce Smith, R-Dillsburg, said he was disturbed by the number of positive drug tests reported by TMI officials.

“There is no excuse or any way to defend substance abuse at a nuclear power plant,” he said.

Smith said he plans to contact the NRC and acquire the plant’s Fitness-for-Duty reports for his own records.

A Daily Record investigation found:

· More people might have tested positive, but the NRC does not have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to chemical testing. The commission uses cutoff limits to screen for narcotics and alcohol. For example, the NRC’s limit for alcohol is a blood-alcohol content of 0.04 percent. That is equivalent to three 12-ounce beers in an hour for a 200-pound man.

· Short-term contractors made up the majority of the workers who tested positive at both Peach Bottom and TMI unit 1 in Londonderry Township, Dauphin County. Short-term contractors generally handle maintenance and repairs that cannot be completed when the plant is on-line.

· Workers’ inability to cope with stress following the terrorist attacks may have contributed to the largest single six-month jump in marijuana use among plant workers since July 1999. For both plants, 73 people tested positive for marijuana — the most of any intoxicant.

Keeping fit for duty

In 1989, the NRC created a policy that each plant should follow an individual fitness-for-duty program. Collecting such data helps ensure that workers complete their jobs free of any physical or mental impairment such as drugs, said Neil Sheehan, commission spokesman. Twice a year, each plant files a report with the commission that details how many workers tested positive for legal or illegal substances.

The commission examines the data for trends in drug use among plant workers, Sheehan said.

“It acts as a performance indicator of a plant,” he said.

If a plant reports two or more fitness-for-duty program failures, the NRC will increase its level of oversight. An example of a program failure could be a worker and plant physician working together to falsify screening results. Program failures could translate into increased inspections and possible fines, Sheehan said.

In 2001, the NRC hosted a specific investigation into whether a former commission- licensed chief shift operator at the Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station in New York had deliberately provided false, inaccurate, or incomplete information on health history forms.

The investigation uncovered that the operator deliberately failed to provide complete information on the forms in order to mislead an officer. The fitness-for-duty violation case did not result in a fine, but the NRC could have issued a base civil penalty of $55,000. Neither Peach Bottom nor TMI Unit 1 has been cited for a fitness-for-duty violation.

Test limits

Rather than have a zero-tolerance drug policy, the NRC relies on cutoff levels to test if a person has abused drugs or alcohol. For example, the NRC’s limit on marijuana is 100 ng/ml — about the equivalent of smoking one joint in a week.At those levels, it is possible that a worker could endanger himself, fellow employees and the community, said Jim Beek, a public information officer for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. A division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, SAMHSA sets guidelines for workplace drug testing for the NRC.  The level of impairment depends heavily on a person’s sensitivity to a specific drug, Beek said.  Since most “street drugs” like marijuana and cocaine are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it can be difficult for experts to determine the strength of the drug, Beek said.

“When someone takes a hit off of a joint, you don’t know how or when it might affect them,” he said. “They could end up losing an arm or blowing up Delta, Pa.”

From her living room, Marianne Adamski of Goldsboro has a view of TMI’s water cooling towers billowing steam. She said the lack of a zero-tolerance drug policy for plant workers is “scary.”

“They should regulate it much better than that,” Adamski said. “They should be more responsible than that.”

The NRC’s use of cutoff levels rather than zero tolerance is based on decades of research, Sheehan said. Studies indicate that drugs in quantities below the cutoff levels are not likely to affect job performance. For example, a plant employee who must report to work at 4 p.m. Monday and has cocktails Sunday night should not be affected by the alcohol once he reports to the plant, Sheehan said.

“You might have a small amount of alcohol in your body, but based on evidence, it will not impair your ability to do the job effectively,” Sheehan said.

One expert claims a zero-tolerance drug policy does not account for human digestion and passive exposure involving marijuana. The human body produces alcohol as a process of digestion, said Robert Stephenson, head of the SAMHSA Division of Workplace Programs. That amount of alcohol is below the level of impairment but above zero, Stephenson said. Marijuana can stick to clothes and hair, he said. If a person walks through a room where people are smoking marijuana, it may mean that they were exposed to second-hand smoke rather than ingesting the drug.

“Zero tolerance means that we won’t tolerate one free bite of the apple,” Stephenson said.

Another hurdle that laboratories must traverse in the quest for a true zero-tolerance drug test is technology. Many drug cutoff levels exist essentially to test how far down the screening equipment can reach, said Dr. Carla Huitt.

“Much of the equipment can’t accurately measure down to zero,” said Huitt, medical director of the Industrial Resource Center at Memorial Hospital. “Below the cutoff level, they are just making an assumption that the person is not impaired.”

Regardless of the equipment, doctors cannot determine how an illegal drug will affect one person compared to the next. Marijuana, the most common drug found in plant workers, can remain in the body for up to a month, Huitt said.

Fitness offenders

On a regional level, most nuclear plant workers who tested positive for drugs were short-term contractors who work the sites during refueling. Between July 1999 and December 2002, 91 short-term contractors at Peach Bottom tested positive for drugs. At TMI, 45 temporary employees tested positive.  The remaining seven workers who tested positive for drugs at both power plants were licensed employees. A licensed worker is someone who has been certified by the NRC in their job and works at the plant full time.

One reason for the unbalanced figures could be that Peach Bottom has two operating reactors that require double the manpower, compared to the needs of TMI’s lone unit, Sheehan said. Typically, plants temporarily hire hundreds of short-term contractors for repairs and maintenance when reactors are shut down for refueling. For example, short-term contractors have been involved with the installation of a reactor vessel head at TMI since Oct. 18. The plant’s unit 1 reactor is currently shut down.

“There really is no need to keep a staff that size on permanently,” said David A. Lochbaum, of the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, D.C., a nonprofit environmental group.

Power companies have the month-long outages every two years to conduct inspections, change out spent fuel rods, upgrade equipment and perform preventive maintenance that is difficult to complete while a plant is operational. Since 1990, when the average refueling outage lasted 60 to 75 days, the industry has pushed to reduce the number of days the power plants are down, Lochbaum said. The more time a reactor is offline, the longer a plant goes without supplying power to the electrical grid — its main business.

“They make their money when the plant is running,” Lochbaum said. “Plant operators began to hire additional workers to get the required repairs completed in half the time.”

But more workers means more drug screenings and a greater potential for positive chemical tests, Lochbaum said. Most of the workers who fail the plants’ drug tests are new hires who are screened for the first time and have not yet been assigned to the protected area, he said.  For those workers who actively take drugs and make it to the protected area of the plant, specific safeguards exist to expose that person’s habits to security.

Exelon Nuclear operates a computer program that randomly drug tests 50 percent of a plant’s staff on an annual basis, said Hugh McNally, regional security manager for Exelon Generation. The process deters people from taking drugs under the assumption that a random test could take place at any time, he said. For example, the computer could randomly select a worker who was tested for drugs on Monday to be screened again on Thursday of the same week.

“I could be tested three times in a year,” McNally said. “Personally, I’ve been tested twice in one week.”

As part of the plant’s training process, new workers are instructed to recognize the symptoms of narcotics use and must report any changes in behavior they notice in other employees. Failure to do so could result in a worker losing his job, McNally said.

“If I smell alcohol on someone’s breath,” he said, “I need to report it to my supervisor.”

At the drug test, a worker must list all the prescription medications he may be taking. The employee must fill a container with urine, McNally said. The worker is allowed to complete the four-minute test in a bathroom in private, but the employee is not permitted to run any water or flush the toilet.

“We try to have a lot of controls in place so a person can’t beat the system,” he said.

An onsite laboratory tests the samples. If a worker’s urine screens positive for drugs, the plant sends the sample to an outside laboratory for complete verification. Exelon temporarily denies the employee access to the protected area of the plant. Once the outside laboratory has confirmed the test, the plant’s medical review officer makes a final determination. The commission requires a nuclear plant to restrict a worker’s access to protected areas for at least 14 days.

“For most people,” Lochbaum said, “that means they lost their job.”

The plant may request a worker complete drug and alcohol counseling before the employee can return to the plant. Plant officials make the final determination whether to reinstate the employee’s access to the protected area or to fire the employee, McNally said. Access is automatically denied for three years if a person screens positive a second time, he said. A failed drug test could hamper a person’s chances for a new job, Lochbaum said. Power companies enter information relating to the failed test into a national database that is monitored by all power plants.

“It’s a red flag that you lost unescorted access privileges to the plant,” Lochbaum said. “If you violated their drug policy, you’ve kissed your job goodbye.”

Spike in marijuana use

Between July and December 2001, 10 TMI workers tested positive for marijuana while 20 Peach Bottom employees screened positive for the illegal drug — the largest single six-month jump since July 1999. By contrast, no workers at Peach Bottom tested positive for marijuana during the previous six-month period. At TMI Unit 1, three people tested positive for the drug during that period.

Aside from fall refueling outages that require more workers, the jump in drug abuse may be attributed to stress. The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks happened during the six months when the spike occurred. Generally, an unstable political and economic climate can elevate stress to the point where a person could turn to drugs as a coping mechanism, said Helen Gyimesi, a drug and alcohol prevention specialist for Memorial Hospital.

“These are mood-altering drugs,” she said. “Working in a place like that after 9/11 could be scary.”

Reach Sean Adkins at 771-2047 orsadkins@ydr.com. 

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Teen Girl Pulls Own Teeth Out, High on GHB

ENGLAND (BBC News) She was found in April at their home in Horwich, near Bolton, Greater Manchester, with her body covered in blood and 18 of her teeth either in a bowl or on the bed. But she told Bolton Crown Court she had removed her own teeth in an attempt to stop a "luminous green and pink fly" from choking her.

The court, sitting at Bury Magistrates, was told during the three-day trial that the pair had consumed enormous amounts of the liquid drug GHB.

Their hallucinations had included "seeing" witches, clowns and floating furniture. Father-of-two Mr. Morris was accused of using pliers to remove his girlfriend's teeth. But Miss Court said she had removed her own teeth.

'No pain'

She told the court: "I turned to face my bedroom wall and a luminous green and pink fly flew out and down my throat.

"That's when it started choking me."

She added that, after struggling with the first one, "the rest seemed to just fall out" and she had felt no pain.

The jury took just under two hours to deliver their not guilty verdict. The couple, who are still together, have since stopped taking GHB.

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Gang uses date rape drug to assault men

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND (The Herald) November 11, 2003 -- A gang has been using GHB, the date rape drug, to spike men's drinks before sexually assaulting them. At least four men are believed to have been victims in the last month in pubs and bars in Edinburgh.

It is understood a gang member identifies a target and, after spiking their drink with GHB, the victim is lured to a house. There, unknown to them, others are waiting. The spiking of drinks is understood to have taken place mainly in gay clubs and bars in the "gay triangle" area around Broughton Street and Greenside, although one man has reported drinking in a popular mainstream pub in Leith when he was targeted.
The incidents are not, however, being linked to the recent sex attacks on males in the west of Scotland. At least three young men have been victims of a gang who dragged them off streets in Glasgow's west end and assaulted them.  In Edinburgh, police are liaising with gay support groups over the attacks involving GHB, which can be dissolved in drinks and is undetectable by taste, smell or appearance.  The drug can leave the victim with such severe memory loss they do not know what has happened to them.

Craig Hutchison, counseling manager at Gay Men's Health, in Edinburgh, said the equivalent of male rape was vastly under-reported

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Ecstasy Use Levels Off

New York, NY - The number of teenagers using Ecstasy in America is finally leveling off, but the majority of adolescents - 13 million kids - don't see great risk in trying the so-called "love drug," according to a national survey released today by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

"Over the last few years, as overall teen drug use stabilized, Ecstasy was the one disturbing exception," said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the Partnership. "Our latest reading of the Ecstasy market offers a more encouraging picture, but does not - and should not - suggest that we have turned the corner on this drug. We have not - not yet."

Released today, the 2002 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) surveyed 7,084 teens across the country (margin of error = +/- 1.5 percent). The nationally projectable study found that after increasing 71 percent between 1999 and 2001, trial use of Ecstasy by teens held steady in 2002. Overall, the study found:

With new data taken into consideration, teen experimentation with the drug Ecstasy remains equal to or greater than adolescent consumption of cocaine, crack, heroin, LSD and methamphetamine. Even so, the data offer a potentially promising outlook for the future in changing teen attitudes about the drug, including the following:

"Attitudes change slowly, but when they do, they tend to gain momentum," Pasierb said. "More teens see great risk in regular use of Ecstasy; more see great risk in experimenting. The latter category, however, concerns us. While the numbers are moving in the right direction, some 13 million kids remain unconvinced that trying Ecstasy could have real consequences. That's something we simply must change."

Chemically known as 3-4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA, Ecstasy is a synthetic, psychoactive drug with amphetamine-like and hallucinogenic properties. Taken orally in pill form, this Schedule I drug can be extremely dangerous, especially in high doses. The drug produces an intense and pleasurable high, while putting users at risk of dramatic increases in body temperature, muscle breakdown, and kidney and cardiovascular system failure, as reported in some fatalities. Since 1994, emergency room episodes involving Ecstasy increased from 253 to 5,542 in 2001.

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Tough, Nationwide Drugged-Driving Law in Development

RENO, Nevada (Reno Gazette-Journal) August 30, 2003 -- Federal officials said new nationwide laws are needed to address the issue of driving while high on drugs.

Drugged drivers cause many fatal crashes, but officials said that many elude prosecution because current laws require prosecutors to prove that the drugs caused the accident.

New legislation under development would be modeled after laws passed in Nevada and eight other states. Under the measures, prosecutors only need to show that drugs, including marijuana, were in the driver's system.

However, the legality of the Nevada law is currently being challenged by three drivers in the state who face up to 20 years in prison. The three drivers, all of whom tested positive for marijuana, were involved in separate fatal accidents.

The outcome of their court cases could impact legislation throughout the country.

"The intent of the law was to make sure that if someone was driving under the influence of a controlled substance, they would be held responsible for loss of life," said U.S. Rep. Jon Porter (R-Nev.), who sponsored Nevada's prohibited substance drug bill while a state senator.

But opponents of Nevada's law, among them toxicologists, lawyers, civil libertarians, and some lawmakers, counter that the regulation is unfair and unconstitutional because no proof is required to show that the driver was actually impaired by the drugs.

They also argue that the cutoff standard for drugs named in the law is too low. "People are going to prison for smoking a joint a day or two or three ago," said John Watkins, a Las Vegas lawyer. "The whole idea of driving under the influence is driving under the influence. But we're putting people in prison who are not impaired."

According to a recent national report by The Walsh Group, a Maryland-based research and consulting firm, there has been a rise in drugged-driving incidents.

"It's nearly impossible to prosecute someone for driving under the influence of drugs," said Michael Walsh, the group's president and former executive director of the President's Drug Advisory Council. "As a matter of practicality, because it's so hard to make those cases, the prosecutors have tended not to file those charges, and police have not bothered to get the specimens they needed," he said. "Nobody was dealing with the problem."

In November, John Walters, head of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, introduced a new "zero tolerance" initiative as the first step towards developing legislation to address drugged driving.

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Narcotics, Pot Push Up ER Visits

WASHINGTON, DC August The 2002 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) survey finds a 20-percent increase in the number of emergency-room visits involving narcotic pain medications, according to an Aug. 26 press release from theSubstance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

According to the report, there were 119,185 narcotic pain-medication emergency visits in 2002, up from 99,317 in 2001 and a 45-percent increase from 2000.

The most frequently mentioned drugs in emergency-room visits in 2002 were alcohol in combination with another drug, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, anti-anxiety drugs (benzodiazipines), and narcotic painkillers.

"We must educate the public about the dangers of misuse of prescription medications," said Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. "We must continue to strengthen our prevention programs and build substance-abuse treatment capacity so that people don't abuse drugs and tax the medical and economic resources of our emergency departments."

The DAWN survey also shows that the number of hospital emergency-department visits related to drug misuse nationwide stayed about the same as 2001 at an estimated 670,307.

However, emergency-room mentions of marijuana, which in the past had been included with other drugs, rose 45 percent from 2000 to 2002.

'This report proves that marijuana is more harmful than many people think," said White House Director of National Drug Control Policy John Walters. "The rising levels of marijuana potency that we've seen over the last several years correspond with dramatic increases in people seeking emergency medical care for marijuana-related incidents."

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Drug Use by U.S. Teens Declines

WASHINGTON (AP) January 2, 2003 -- Smoking, drinking and drug use among eighth-graders has fallen sharply in recent years, with marijuana use at its lowest level since 1994 and half as many youngsters reporting they use cigarettes, according to a survey of students released Monday.

Monitoring the Future, an annual survey of eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders done for the Department of Health and Human Services, found declines in drug, alcohol and tobacco use for all age groups.

``Teen drug use is once again headed in the right direction - down,'' said John Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. ``This survey confirms that our drug-prevention efforts are working and that when we work together and push back, the drug problem gets smaller.''

The report, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, surveyed 44,000 students from 394 schools. They were asked about their experiences and feelings about alcohol and drugs.

Lloyd Johnston, who directed the study by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, said the findings among eighth-graders are particularly heartening because children who say no to drugs, smoking or alcohol early on carry that attitude into adulthood.

Government health officials credited campaigns to educate children about the dangers of drugs with helping foster the decline.

Johnston said the terrorist attacks may also have contributed to the falling numbers, particularly a decline in drinking this year across all the age groups.

``The tragedy of 9-11 had a sobering effect on the country's young people,'' Johnston said.

Despite the broad decline, teen use of heroin, cocaine and steroids remained fairly steady this year. Among high school seniors, there were slight increases in the use of sedatives and tranquilizers. Crack use was up slightly among 10th-graders.

The most dramatic declines were seen in teen smoking.

Smoking rates for eighth-graders have been cut in half since 1996 with those teens who said they smoked in the last month falling from 21 percent to 10.7 percent. Among 10th-graders, the decline was almost as large, and for high school seniors, the smoking rate fell by one-quarter to one-third.

Johnston said many factors may explain the decline, including higher tobacco prices, less cigarette advertising reaching young people and negative publicity about smoking and the tobacco industry.

He noted that the proportion of eighth-graders saying they prefer to date people who don't smoke rose to 81 percent from 71 percent in 1996. The other grades saw similar increases.

``Taking up smoking makes a youngster less attractive to the great majority of the opposite sex, just the opposite of what cigarette advertising has been promising all these years,'' he said. ``It may be the most compelling argument for why they should abstain from smoking.''

The survey found that teen use of Ecstasy, a synthetic drug that became popular over the past decade at dance parties called ``raves,'' began to decline significantly for the first time this year. All three grades saw declines, but the biggest drop was among 10th-graders, with the proportion of those teens reporting Ecstasy use during the past year falling from 6.2 percent to 4.9 percent.

The researchers said one reason for the decline is a growing awareness among teens about the dangers of Ecstasy, which has been linked to damage to the brain, heart and kidneys.

Johnston warned that the nation's focus on terrorism and a possible with war with Iraq could lead to a reversal of the downward trend. Drug use rose in the years after the 1991 Persian Gulf War when there was less emphasis on educating children about drugs, he said.

Among the other findings:

The proportion of eighth-graders who said they used an illegal drug during the past year fell to 17.7 percent, down from 19.5 percent the year before and a high of 23.6 in 1996. Drug use over the past year among 10th-graders also fell since 2001 - from 37.2 percent to 34.8 percent - while use among high school seniors remained relatively steady around 41 percent.

Alcohol use among eighth- and 10th-graders reached the lowest level since the survey began studying those grades in 1991.

The proportion of eighth-graders who said they used marijuana during past year fell to 14.6 percent, the lowest rate since it was 13 percent in 1994 and well below a peak of 18.3 percent in 1996.

The survey studied abuse of the prescription painkiller OxyContin for the first time and found that 1.3 percent of eight-graders, 3 percent of 10th-graders and 4 percent of 12th-graders reported using the drug in the last year.
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US Fighter Pilots Given Speed 

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Jan. 2, 2003 -- A lawyer for one of two U.S. pilots who released a bomb over southern Afghanistan in April, accidentally killing four Canadian soldiers, says the Air Force had pressured the pilots to take amphetamines that may have impaired their judgment during the mission.

Majs. Harry Schmidt and William Umbach face a possible court-martial for dropping the laser-guided bomb near Kandahar on April 17. An Air Force investigation determined the pilots ''demonstrated poor airmanship'' and ignored standard procedure by not making sure there were no allied troops in the area.

But Umbach's lawyer, David Beck, said he would show at a Jan. 13 hearing on whether to court-martial the pilots that the Air Force routinely pressures pilots to take dexamphetamine, a prescription drug also known as ''go pills.'' He said the drug can impair judgment and is not recommended for people operating heavy equipment.

Beck said the Air Force prevents pilots from flying if they refuse to take the pills.

Air Force spokeswoman Lt. Jennifer Ferrau acknowledged the pills are used as a ''fatigue management tool'' to help pilots stay alert through long missions. But she said use of the pills is voluntary, and that their effects have been thoroughly tested.

''There have been decades of study on their efficacy and practicality,'' she said. ''The surgeon general worked very closely with commanders on this.''

''What happened was a terrible tragedy. You don't honor (the victims) by wrongfully prosecuting these pilots,'' Beck said. ''This is political appeasement of Canadians who are angry.''

Ferrau said Air Force officials would not comment on specifics of the case.

On the night of the bombing, 15 Canadian soldiers were practicing anti-tank attacks with live ammunition at Tarnak Farm, a former al-Qaida training camp. A Canadian report said the soldiers were using firearms ranging from sidearms to shoulder-fired anti-tank weapons.

Schmidt and Umbach were flying F-16s toward their base after six hours of a mission in which ''no significant events occurred,'' the Air Force report said.

Just after midnight, they spotted gunfire on the ground and reported it to flight controllers. One of the pilots asked for permission to fire his 20 millimeter cannon and was told to wait, according to the Air Force investigators' report.

Sixteen seconds later, Schmidt reported surface-to-air fire and said he was going to ''roll in,'' or attack the shooters.

''I've got some men on a road and it looks like a piece of artillery firing at us,'' Umbach said, according to the report. ''I am rolling in, in self-defense.''

Schmidt released the bomb, which landed about three feet from a Canadian machine gun crew. Killed instantly were Sgt. Marc Leger, Cpl. Ainsworth Dyer, Pvt. Richard Green and Pvt. Nathan Smith.

The hearing, to be held at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City, is expected to last two weeks. Afterward, a recommendation on whether to court-martial the pilots will be delivered to Lt. Gen. Bruce Carlson, commander of the 8th Air Force, who will make the final decision. The 8th Air Force is based at Barksdale.

Schmidt and Umbach face charges of involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and dereliction of duty. If convicted of all charges, they face a maximum of 64 years in military prison.

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New Drugs for Heroin and Cocaine Addiction

WASHINGTON (AP) December 11, 2002 -- Federal health officials launched an education campaign Tuesday to let doctors and heroin users know there's a new medication that can help curb addicts' cravings - and for the first time, it can be prescribed in doctor's offices instead of drug-treatment clinics.

The Food and Drug Administration approved buprenorphine in October, an alternative to methadone in helping people kick addiction to heroin and similar opioids, drugs also found in prescription painkillers.

Now, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is trying to spread the word.

Methadone is the most common treatment for opioid addiction, but it can be dispensed only in a few special drug-treatment clinics. Only about 20 percent of heroin addicts receive it.

Buprenorphine, in contrast, can be prescribed in doctor's offices - as long as the physician qualifies. The key: Doctors must seek a government waiver allowing them to prescribe buprenorphine after completing eight hours of mandatory training.

So far, more than 2,000 doctors have been trained to use buprenorphine and about 300 have received waivers to begin prescribing, according to SAMHSA.

To increase those numbers - and let addicts know about the new option - the drug abuse agency plans to hold public meetings in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, New Orleans, New York/Newark, N.J., Portland, Ore., Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Seattle, Wilmington, Del./Philadelphia and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Buprenorphine, a tablet dissolved under the tongue, works by blocking the same brain receptors that heroin targets, but without heroin's high and with weaker narcotic effects than methadone.

Drug Helps Cocaine Addiction

Researchers have found that n-acetyl cysteine (NAC), a drug used to treat cystic fibrosis and heart disease, may also help individuals with cocaine addiction 

According to researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina, NAC helps reduce cocaine cravings by eliminating the 'rewards' associated with taking the drug.

Human trials are currently being organized. The study's findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology

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Parents Underestimate Ecstasy

NEW YORK (AP) October 21, 2002 -- While Ecstasy increasingly becomes a favored drug among teens, only one percent of U.S. parents believe their child has ever tried the ``club drug,'' according to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America's annual report.

The nonprofit group's survey of parents, released on Monday, also found that while 92 percent of parents were aware of the drug, nearly half would not recognize its effects on their kids.

Symptoms of Ecstasy use include blurred vision, rapid eye movement, chills or sweating, dehydration, confusion, faintness, severe anxiety, grinding of teeth and a trance-like state.

The problem with parental perceptions of drug use among their children was particularly significant, since teens who learn about the risk of drugs at home are less likely to experiment, said Stephen J. Pasierb, president and CEO of the partnership.

``Millions of parents sincerely don't believe that their kids are the ones experimenting with drugs like Ecstasy,'' Pasierb said. ``It's these assumptions that enable drug use to go undetected.''

The survey reported that only one in 100 parents believed their child might be experimenting with Ecstasy. An earlier Partnership study showed 12 out of every 100 teens reported trying the drug.

That same partnership study found that teen use of Ecstasy was greater or equal to their use of cocaine, crack, heroin, LSD and methamphetamine.

The survey also found:

While 41 percent of parents believe Ecstasy would be very or fairly difficult for their teen to get, only 26 percent of teens agreed.

Parents who spoke with their teens ``a lot'' about drugs tended to focus on alcohol (70 percent), marijuana (60 percent) and cocaine/crack (48 percent) rather than on Ecstasy.

Ecstasy, often handed out at ``rave'' dance parties, has been linked to damage to the brain, heart and kidneys.

Last week, lawmakers in Washington said they wanted to go after organizers and hosts of ``raves'' in an attempt to halt the fast-rising use of Ecstasy.

According to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 8.1 million Americans aged 12 and up tried Ecstasy in 2001, up from 6.5 million a year earlier.

Partnership pollsters surveyed 1,219 parents nationwide, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percent. Data was collected during in-home interviews with parents of children 18 and under

 
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Teens Turn to Cough Syrup to Get High

CINCINNATI, Ohio September 27, 2002 -- A rising number of teens are misusing cough syrup containing dextromethorphan (DXM) in order to get high, the Scripps Howard Foundation reported Sept. 9. 

According to addiction experts, cough syrup's inexpensive price and easy availability is attracting adolescents.

Communities nationally are reporting an increase in reported cases of DXM abuse. For instance, in 2000 the Maryland Poison Center reported 18 cases of intentional exposure by teens to DXM, while the Cincinnati Drug and Poison Center reported 19 cases over a six-week period.

Experts also warned about a growing trend where teens use DXM with other drugs to mask the unpleasant taste and effects of cough syrup. Use of Coricidin tablets to get high also is on the rise among teens.

"You don't see that many people just taking DXM. It's used in combination with marijuana, ecstasy, and alcohol," said Dr. John P. Keppler, clinical director of the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (TCADA).

Keppler said that high doses of DXM mimic the euphoric and hallucinogenic effects of ecstasy. "They're trying to have an almost psychedelic experience similar to LSD," said Keppler. "It alters your perception of reality. People report having creative dreamlike experiences and a dissociative experience. Some people feel it gives them euphoria. It's similar to PCP in that sense."

Keppler said that misuse of the legal drug could be just as harmful as taking illegal drugs. Among the possible side-effects of excessive DMX use are loss of balance, increased pulse, hypothermia, severe high blood pressure, loss of consciousness, mania, loss of muscle control, permanent brain damage, coma, seizures, cerebral hemorrhages, and stroke. 

 
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Nick Nolte Charged With GHB Use

MALIBU, CA (NBC News) October 23, 2002 -- Actor Nick Nolte has been formally charged in connection with a September, 11 incident where he was arrested for allegedly erratically driving on a California highway.

In a complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court Wednesday, prosecutors charged Nolte with driving under the influence and being under the influence of a controlled substance -- both misdemeanors.

Los Angeles District Attorney's office spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons says tests indicated Nolte had elements of the banned depressant gamma hydroxybutyrate in his system. Also known as GHB, the drug can cause euphoria or loss of conciousness -- which has led to its abuse as a date-rape drug.

Nolte, who checked himself into a Connecticut rehab center three days after his arrest, will be arraigned on the charges Monday.

The 61-year-old actor was arrested Sept. 11 outside his Malibu home by the California State Highway Patrol. According to CHP Capt. Dan Bower, Nolte was drooling and disheveled at the time he was apprehended.

 

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Ecstasy Could Trigger Parkinson's Disease

October 2, 2002 (Reuters) -- New research suggests that ecstasy use can cause long-lasting damage to key brain cells and trigger Parkinson's disease later in life. 

A study on squirrel monkeys by researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that just a few ecstasy tablets could cause extensive damage to dopamine neurons in the brain. This damage may lead to early onset of Parkinson's disease.

The test on monkeys, who were given a dose of ecstasy equal to that generally taken by humans, showed a long-lasting drop in dopamine levels. A significant loss of dopamine, which controls movement and emotional and cognitive responses, can cause Parkinson's disease.

Researchers repeated the study on baboons and found similar damage to their brains.

"We do not yet know if our findings in nonhuman primates will generalize to human beings but, needless to say, this is a major concern," said Dr. George Ricaurte, co-author of the study. 

"People should be aware that the use of ecstasy in doses similar to those used in recreational settings can damage brain cells, and this damage can have serious effects."
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Pot Smoking Called Driving Danger

An Australian medical expert challenged the assertion that people who smoke marijuana are safe drivers because they drive slowly, the West Australian reported Sept. 24.

"It is certainly not a safe drug in relation to road trauma," said Professor Olaf Drummer, a forensic-medicine expert at Monash University in Australia.

According to Drummer, drivers who had more than 5 nanograms per milliliter of marijuana's active ingredient, tetra-hydro-cannabinol, in their bloodstream are 6.6 times more likely to die in a crash than other drivers.

His findings were based on a study of about 3,400 drivers who died between 1990-1999.

Drummer presented his findings at a government committee on hearing family and community affairs. The committee is considering a measure that would test drivers for drugs other than alcohol. 

Drug Czar Speaks Out About Legalizing Pot 

RENO, NV (Gazette-Journal) Organized and well-funded campaigns lobbying for the legalization of marijuana pose one of the biggest threats to the safety and health of the nation’s teenagers, said the nation’s drug czar said Thursday night in Reno.

“By stimulating the use of drugs, we make all other institution of society more difficult to carry out,” said John P. Walters, director of the National Drug Control Policy. “No school will be better with drug use, no family will be better with drug use.”

Walters was a guest of two treatment organizations — Join Together Northern Nevada and the Nevada Alliance for Addictive Disorders, Advocacy, Prevention and Treatment Services — which oppose the Nov. 5 ballot question to legalize the possession of up to 3 ounces of marijuana for adults.

He cited figures that show that 59 percent of youths age 12 to 17 admitted into a drug treatment program had used marijuana. He also said that the younger the marijuana smoker, the more likely he or she would be dependent on marijuana as an adult.

His numbers also showed that delinquent behavior among youths was linked to frequent marijuana use.

“More crimes are stimulated by people under the influence of drugs, who become more violent, dangerous and paranoid,” Walters told about 50 invited guests at the Airport Plaza Hotel.

Walters came to Reno after a Las Vegas appearance and had visited the state in July, saying Nevada shouldn’t become the center for drug tourism. Walters said he decided to speak against marijuana initiatives in Nevada and other states because he feared lies perpetrated by supporters were gaining acceptance as the truth.

“We saw the problem that marijuana was massively underestimated in the public mind and if we didn’t do anything it would grow,” he said. “I do not believe the truth can be silenced and I do not believe they have truth on their side.”

He said a common lie is that marijuana is not addictive, when in fact it is. He said marijuana on the street these days has higher levels of THC, which make it both more addictive and more detrimental to health.

Walters also dispelled critics’ claims that taxpayers spend money for prisoners incarcerated for marijuana possession. He said almost that all inmates serving time for marijuana-related convictions were drug traffickers.

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Dangerous Club Drug Knockoffs Surge

USA TODAY July 23, 2002 -- Drug dealers hoping to capitalize on the popularity of club drugs are trying to pass off a variety of chemicals concoctions as Ecstasy pills.

The pills are appearing at dance clubs and all-night dance parties or raves in California, Oregon, Ohio, Florida and at least 10 other states. Last month, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement issued an alert for two of the drugs, known as Foxy and AMT.

Although drug experts regard Ecstasy as harmful itself, health and law enforcement officials warn that the use of research chemicals is particularly hazardous because scientists have not studied their effects. The Florida warning calls the drugs ''potentially dangerous.''

Of particular concern are:

* Foxy, also called Methoxy Foxy, which is known chemically as 5-MeO-DIPT. It is a hallucinogen that comes in tablets and capsules. Users report diarrhea, nausea, severe anxiety and a high or ''buzzing'' that can last 14 hours.

* AMT, also called IT-290 and known chemically as alpha-methyltryptamine. It is a hallucinogen that usually comes in a capsule with orange or off-white powder. Users experience increased energy, empathy, visual patterns, nausea, headaches, vomiting and jaw clenching.

The chemicals used to produce the fake Ecstasy tablets and capsules are sold legally for scientific use. However, dealers who purchase them, usually via the Internet, and sell them can be prosecuted under federal and state laws that ban trafficking in drugs that mimic the effects of illegal drugs.

Both drugs mimic some of the effects of Ecstasy, which has stimulant and hallucinogenic properties and produces a feeling of sensuous well-being. Foxy and AMT, however, produce more intense hallucinations without the warm and fuzzy feeling.

''About half the pills we test are not (Ecstasy),'' says Tim Santamour, executive director of DanceSafe. His organization tests pills for 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), the chemical component of Ecstasy, in an effort to reduce harm on users, most of whom are in their teens or 20s.

''Drug dealers know there is a market for Ecstasy right now, and they are willing to put their customers at risk,'' Santamour says. ''It's a black market so there's no regulation.''

Ecstasy users who end up with Foxy or AMT are in for a ''big surprise,'' he says. ''The high is nothing like that of Ecstasy. It's a psychedelic trip.''

AMT and Foxy are the most recent additions to a list of Ecstasy fakes that users call ''bunk.'' Dealers also try to pass off pain relievers, caffeine, amphetamines and a chemical used in cough suppressant as Ecstasy.
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FDA: Kava Use Dangerous

WASHINGTON, DC (AP) March 28, 2002 –– People who have liver problems or take drugs that can harm the liver should ask a doctor before taking the popular herbal supplement kava, the government warns.

The Food and Drug Administration said kava may be linked to serious liver injury.

The FDA hasn't concluded if kava, or its use together with some other supplement or medication, is truly to blame for health problems have come to its attention, mainly overseas.

But the seriousness of side effects, and other countries' actions, made FDA officials decide it was time to alert Americans even as they struggle to solve the mystery.

"This kind of liver damage appears to be extremely rare," said FDA supplement chief Dr. Christine Taylor. "But because it's severe liver damage, we felt consumers needed to be aware of it."

The FDA began investigating the blockbuster-selling herb after a previously healthy 45-year-old woman used kava and suddenly required a liver transplant. European health officials report 25 similar cases of liver toxicity, including four transplants.

As a result, Canada has urged consumers not to take kava until the safety question is settled; sales were halted in Switzerland and France and suspended in Britain; and Germany is acting to make kava a prescription drug.

Kava users should consult a doctor if they experience any possible symptoms of liver disease, the FDA said. Those include: jaundice, or yellowing of the skin or eyes; brown urine; nausea or vomiting; light-colored stools; unusual tiredness or weakness; stomach or abdominal pain, or loss of appetite.

Kava is sold under a variety of names, including ava, awa, intoxicating pepper, kava root or pepper, kawa, kew, Piper methysticum, rauschpfeffer, sakau, tonga, wurzelstock and yangona, the FDA said.

In a letter to physicians, the FDA said it will soon provide them as much scientific information as is available to help in advising patients wondering whether to take kava.

The FDA also urged doctors and consumers to report any possible kava side effects by calling 1-800-332-1088 or via the Internet at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

Under federal law, no one has to prove dietary supplements are safe or work as advertised before they begin selling. And, unlike in other countries, the FDA must prove one is dangerous before it can halt sales. Reports of kava users suffering liver injury suggest a link, but it will take more research to prove if the herbal sedative actually causes injury, Taylor said.

She wouldn't say how many ill American kava users are being investigated because the number changes slightly each week as FDA reviews more medical records. But as of last month, the agency was examining about 38.

By making it clear that the jury's still out, FDA's consumer alert was "a prudent and an appropriate precautionary move," said John Cordero of the industry's Council for Responsible Nutrition.

The consumer advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest had pushed FDA to issue the warning for months. "We urge consumers to steer clear of kava altogether unless directed otherwise by a physician," said Bruce Silverglade of the center.

Kava is promoted to relieve anxiety, stress and insomnia. A member of the pepper family, it has long been used as a ceremonial drink in the South Pacific; until recently its biggest danger seemed to be in drinking too much of the sedative before driving. Then, about two years ago, kava in pill form suddenly boomed, bringing in about $30 million in sales – and Europe reported liver damage.

Herb experts say it's possible that if kava is dangerous, it might be only to certain people. That's because some of the European patients already had some liver damage before using kava or used alcohol or other known liver-harming substances in addition to the herb.

The controversy is the latest bad news for the $16 billion supplement industry, which reported sharp sales declines last year. Since last summer, the FDA has issued repeated warnings about supplements tainted with drugs and chemicals illegally posing as supplements, and asked makers of the liver-damaging herb comfrey to stop selling it for internal use.

 
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Court Upholds Law Blocking Sale of Urine

WASHINGTON, DC (AP) March 18, 2002 -- The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review an appeal of a South Carolina law that makes it illegal to sell urine.

The challenge was brought by Kenneth Curtis, who was selling his drug-free urine over the Internet through Privacy Protection Services, a business that caters to people trying to beat drug tests.

Curtis' lawyer argued that his client was selling a natural product and should not be held responsible for how it is used.

"Our government does not require those who sell alcohol to ask their customers if they intend to get drunk and drive, nor do they require those who sell bullets or guns to ask their customers if they intend to kill someone," said Robert C. Child III.

Curtis has moved his business to North Carolina, where selling urine remains legal.

 
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Idaho OKs Marijuana With Driving

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Marijuana users can drive legally in Idaho as long as they don't drive erratically and can pass a field sobriety test, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

While it is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, Idaho law doesn't list marijuana as a narcotic, wrote the three-judge panel for the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The ruling overturned an impaired driving conviction against Matthew Patzer, 21, who was stopped for a broken tailgate light in 1998 and admitted to police he'd smoked marijuana at a party.

The appeals court said Patzer could not automatically be presumed impaired; he wasn't driving erratically and passed two field sobriety tests.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Fica in Idaho said the government may ask the court to review its decision or request the U.S. Supreme Court hear the case.

 
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Report: Teen Drug Use Level or Declining

WASHINGTON, DC (Associated Press) December 20, 2001 -- "Overall, drug use among America's teenagers has remained level or declined for the fifth year in a row, and that's good news," he said. "But we must remain vigilant to the threats that heroin, Ecstasy, marijuana, alcohol and other dangerous drugs pose to our youth."

He added that "the finding that fewer teenagers are smoking is very encouraging."

Smoking is declining sharply among American teenagers, according to a new report.

The report also disclosed that the recent sharp increases in the use of the drug Ecstasy are slowing, that heroin use decreased, notably among 10th- and 12th-graders, and that a gradual decline in use of inhalants continued in 2001.

Decreases in cigarette smoking were observed for the 8th-, 10th- and 12th-graders surveyed.

Among 8th-graders, 12.2 percent reported smoking in the 30 days before they were surveyed, down from 14.6 percent the year before. The peak in the 1990s was 21 percent in 1996.

The survey found 21.3 percent of 10th-graders had smoked in the previous 30 days, down from 23.9 percent in 2000 and 30.4 percent in 1996, the peak year.

Among 12th-graders, 29.5 percent had smoked in the month before being asked, down from 31.4 percent last year. Their peak in the 1990s came in 1997, at 36.5 percent.

The findings were reported Wednesday in the annual Monitoring the Future survey done for the government by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. The report surveyed 44,300 students in the three grades.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson lauded the declines in smoking and the gains in curbing teens' drug use.

Alcohol remains the most popular drug with teens, though a slight reduction was reported in 2001.

Among 12th graders, 79.7 percent said they had used alcohol at some point, down from 80.3 percent the year before. But the share who admitted to having been drunk at some time rose to 63.9 percent from 62.3 percent.

Among other survey findings, 13 percent of 12th-graders said they had used inhalants at some time, down from 14.2 percent; 10th-graders, 15.2 percent, down from 16.6; 8th-graders, 17.1 percent, down from 17.9.

As for heroin, 1.8 percent of 12th-graders said they had used it, down from 2.4 percent; 10th-graders, 1.7 percent, down from 2.2; 8th-graders, 1.8 percent, down from 1.9.

 
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Big PCP Lab Bust Shows Street Gang Ties

CHICAGO (Chicago Tribune) December 19, 2001 -- Eight people were charged in federal court in Chicago with narcotics offenses after agents uncovered a PCP lab in a Gary business over the weekend, authorities said Monday. Authorities said the charges stem from a 20-month investigation by Chicago police of PCP trafficking by the Ambrose street gang in the Chicago area. The FBI and IRS joined the probe early this year.

Information leading officers to the Gary site surfaced Saturday after a Naperville police officer on routine patrol stopped a van missing a front license plate. Arresting the driver for having a revoked license, the officer discovered chemicals used to make PCP and $3,500 in cash in the van, according to the charges. Authorities believe the officer interrupted a PCP deal. .

A passenger in the van, Shelby Parchman, 37, of Aurora, admitted to authorities that he supplied chemicals to Dan "Pops" Wright, 59, of Gary at least once a month for about the last five years, authorities said.

On Sunday, agents from the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration raided Wright's business, Triple D Cartage in Gary, found a PCP lab hidden upstairs and arrested Wright, according to the charges.

Beginning last summer, investigators obtained court approval to wiretap the cell phones of several gang leaders involved in distributing PCP, according to the charges.

The investigation has revealed that Ambrose street gang crews distribute at least 50 vials of PCP a day--at a price of about $30 a vial, authorities charge. At least three Ambrose crews sold $31,500 worth of PCP every week, the government alleged in court filings

A street gang in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood, the Ambrose aggressively moved into a business long dominated by outlaw motorcycle gangs: the street corner sale of the illegal drug PCP, the FBI said in announcing charges Tuesday against 17 people.

Five members of the Ambrose street gang were arrested Tuesday after arrests over the weekend of several suppliers and the shutdown of a Gary lab where PCP was manufactured, authorities said.

At a news conference, Thomas J. Kneir, special agent in charge of the FBI in Chicago, said the arrests dismantled the gang's drug organization and supply connections.

A nearly two-year investigation called Operation Blue Water, spearheaded by the FBI and Chicago police, targeted the Ambrose gang's PCP distribution. The gang dates to the 1960s and is centered in Pilsen, though its influence covers the South and Southwest Sides, authorities said.

 
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Australian study shows drug Ecstasy slows learning

CANBERRA, Dec 14, 2001 (Reuters) - Illicit pill poppers using the popular party drug Ecstasy suffer permanent learning problems linked to known long-term loss of memory caused by temporary brain damage, an Australian study has found.

Australian National University psychologist Jeff Ward said on Friday memory tests and brain scans performed on 30 subjects who had recently taken Ecstasy revealed they struggled to process and learn new information, affecting their memory functions.

The scans showed the worst damage on the brain's cortical neurons linked to memory function, which can be impaired on three levels -- entry into the brain, storage and retrieval.

"Users have no difficulty in retrieving memories once they are learned, the problem lies in learning new material," Ward told Reuters.

"It takes more exposure to new material for them to learn."

Results revealed that in Ecstasy users, the brain cells linked to the three stages of memory had a decreased density of receptors for the neurotransmitter serotonin, which transports messages between cells and is known to affect mood.

"Even organised professionals like lawyers complained they would miss appointments and forget important facts long after using the drug," Ward said.

Previous research has suggested that ecstasy causes a flood of serotonin in the brain, followed by a lull when the drug wears off and ultimately damage to the brain's memory function.

Sometimes known as MDMA or by its chemical name 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, Ecstasy can also cause dramatic changes in heart rate and blood pressure.

Ward also did brain scans on 30 former Ecstasy users who had abstained from the drug for at least two years, showing damage to the serotonin receptors in cortical neurons had repaired.

But ex-users continued to struggle to digest new information and did not perform as well on memory tests as 30 control subjects who had never used the drug.

"The impairment is definitely noticeable in contrast to non-Ecstasy users," Ward said.

The study, involving users aged up to 30 years, showed the longer Ecstasy was used and the higher the dosages, the worse the memory impairment, Ward said.

Animal studies have shown damage to cells connected to memory function last up to seven years after exposure to the drug.

 
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Felon in Bus Crash Tests Positive for Drugs

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A convicted felon who drove a school bus into a tree, injuring 17, was in jail on a parole violation Wednesday after testing positive for cocaine and marijuana use.

Although investigators found evidence of drug use by Mark Marbley, state police said the driver did not appear impaired at the time of Monday's accident.

Marbley told the police he fell asleep at the wheel. He quit the day of the crash, before the Pulaski County Special School District could fire him, and was jailed later that same day.

School officials said they were not aware he was a convicted felon when they hired him in October.

Marbley was being held pending a hearing on whether his parole will be revoked, Department of Community Punishment spokeswoman Rhonda Sharp said Wednesday.

One student injured in the bus accident remained hospitalized with a broken back. Sixteen others were treated and released.

Marbley, 48, of Sweet Home, served 15 years of a 40-year sentence for robbery, burglary and theft of property. He was to be on parole until May 22, 2006, said prison spokeswoman Dina Tyler.

Sharp said a test by her department indicated Marbley had used cocaine and marijuana but did not show how much of or when he used the drugs.

The district now allows new employees to work before criminal background checks are completed. Assistant superintendent for personnel James Sharpe said the district will review its hiring procedures.

 
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Parents Can Sway Teens on Smoking

CHICAGO (AP) - Defying the stereotype of the defiant teen-ager, new research suggests teens are much less likely to smoke if they think their parents disapprove of the habit.

Parental disapproval works even if the parents are smokers, and it can also blunt the effect of peer pressure, shown previously to be a strong influence on whether teens take up smoking, the study found.

``We overrate the rebelliousness of teen-agers,'' said Dr. James Sargent, an associate professor of pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School.

``That works to our disadvantage,'' he said, because ``parents underestimate their influence on their children. They have an overly heightened concern about coming down hard on their kids about things like smoking because they think it's just going to make them more rebellious.''

Sargent's study, published in December's issue of Pediatrics, the journal of American Academy of Pediatrics, suggests the opposite is true.

Sargent and researcher Madeline Dalton surveyed 372 rural Vermont youngsters in 1996 in grades four through 11 who had never smoked. They re-questioned them in the following two years about their parents' views on smoking, whether their friends smoked and whether they'd started smoking.

Of those youngsters, 284 initially said their parents disapproved of kids' smoking and 19 percent of them became established smokers by the final survey. By contrast, 41 initially said their parents were lenient about smoking and almost 27 percent of them ended up becoming smokers.

At the start, 258 youngsters said none of their friends smoked and this group was less likely to take up the habit than the 113 with smoking friends. But even among the 113, youngsters whose parents set strong anti-smoking standards were less likely to start smoking than those whose parents were lenient, Sargent said.

In addition, ``parents who smoked who set nonsmoking expectations on their kids ... had just as much influence as parents who didn't smoke,'' he said.

While other research has shown that peers have a big influence on teens' behavior, the study shows that might be mitigated by strong messages from parents, said Elizabeth Robertson, chief of prevention research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids advocacy group, said the study echoes similar results found in research on alcohol and illegal drugs.

``Teen-agers are in fact as rebellious as people think, but they listen to their parents when they deliver clear messages far more than people realize,'' Myers said.

 
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Police warn of new drug "Nexus" in club scene

SCHAUMBURG, IL (Chicago Tribune) October 29, 2001 -- The white pills with brown flecks looked like Ecstasy to the undercover officer who bought them at a Schaumburg nightclub. But police were surprised when lab results indicated they had confiscated 2C-B, or Nexus, a more potent party pill surfacing in the Chicago area.

Considered an emerging club party drug, 2C-B has been increasingly sighted in the U.S. in the past three years. The confiscation of two tablets in Schaumburg in July came after the seizure of about 8,200 capsules of 2C-B during an operation in March 2000 in Chicago, police said.

"I think there's more of it out there. I'm not going to be a fool and say, `If there's one case of it, there's no more,'" said Sgt. David Wermes, who oversees special investigations in Schaumburg.

Drug enforcement officials are concerned that users in the frenetic club drug scene may think they are buying Ecstasy when they actually are getting the more potent and less understood 2C-B.

The National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) warned in a May bulletin that usage likely would rise because of dealers marketing 2C-B as Ecstasy.

Other locations where 2C-B has surfaced include Kansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, the Dakotas, Las Vegas and Virginia, said Chicago Police Sgt. Luke Kelly, who heads the designer drug team for the narcotics and gang investigation division.

Experts say the drug, whose street names include Nexus and Venus, can be 10 times more potent than Ecstasy. Federal authorities described its effects as a cross between the touchy-feely mood brought on by Ecstasy and the hallucinatory experiences of LSD. Users say the drug increases sexual desire and heightens senses.

Harmful effects from 2C-B include anxiety, nausea, muscle clenching, claustrophobia and dehydration, according to government experts. It sells for $10 to $30 per dose, experts say, in the range of other club drugs.

The drug, whose chemical name is 4-bromo-2,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine, is classified as a hallucinogen, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. "The drug 2C-B is capable of producing a number of effects based on dose. A small increase in dose may produce radically different, unpredictable, and potentially violent effects," noted the May bulletin by the NDIC on 2C-B.

Although not enough is known about 2C-B's effects to determine its risks relative to other party drugs, it is as dangerous as Ecstasy, said NDIC spokesman Charles Miller.

DanceSafe Chicago, a nonprofit organization promoting safety within the nightclub community, has screened pills for users who thought they were taking 2C-B, said Steve Svoboda, the group's Chicago liaison, but he doubted their authenticity. The group screens pills at local dance parties looking for drugs that may be life-threatening.

By Svoboda's estimates, only about 10 percent of the Ecstasy users his group deals with have heard about 2C-B, and those who have usually are in their 20s.

A new Illinois law effective Jan. 1 is intended to crack down on club drugs. Signed by Gov. George Ryan in August, the law makes crimes of dealing or distributing as few as 15 pills of Ecstasy and other club drugs punishable by a minimum of 6 years in prison.

Copyright (c) 2001, Chicago Tribune

 
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Study: Number of New Teen Smokers Falls

WASHINGTON (AP) October 04, 2001 -- Higher cigarette prices and a cultural shift away from smoking are contributing to a dramatic drop in the number of teen-agers who pick up the habit, experts say.

In just two years, the number of new teen smokers fell by a third, the government reported Thursday. Still, there were 783,000 new smokers ages 12 to 17 in 1999, meaning that 2,145 teens began smoking on the average day, according to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, an annual benchmark for drug, alcohol and tobacco use.

That's down from more than 3,000 new teen smokers a day in 1997, a record high that has been widely cited in the effort to stem tobacco use by young people.

The survey found teen drug and alcohol use holding steady in 2000, a finding consistent with other government research.

On tobacco, the survey found that the number of new smokers of all ages dropped in 1998 and 1999. Teens still made up the majority of new smokers - 57 percent in 1999. Another 36 percent of new smokers were ages 18 to 25 when they started.

Overall, the average new smoker was 17.7 years old, a number that has changed only minimally over time.

"Youth smoking remains at unacceptably high levels and the tobacco companies continue to lure more kids to their deadly products every day," said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

"If we do not redouble our efforts to address the problem, we will not only see no further declines; we may well see youth smoking rise again."

The dramatic decline in new teen smokers came after an equally sharp rise. In 1992, there were fewer than 2,000 new teen smokers each day, a number that climbed by 50 percent in just three years.

Experts were hard-pressed to fully explain the recent drop, and they suggested that a third year of data may be needed to confirm the scope of the trend.

Still, they said, this and other surveys make it clear that teen smoking is on the decline.

The drop took place during tough years and bad press for cigarette makers. In 1998, tobacco companies agreed to pay $246 billion to settle lawsuits from state governments and went along with unprecedented new restrictions on advertising and marketing.

That contributed to higher prices. The average price of a pack of cigarettes went from $1.85 in the beginning of 1997 to $2.92 at the end of 1999. Several studies have found that teens are particularly sensitive to the cost of cigarettes.

At the same time, states were stepping up anti-smoking ad campaigns and, beginning in 1999, a few of them were using their money from the settlement to discourage tobacco use. Restaurants were going smoke-free, and local governments were approving anti-smoking laws.

"What you're seeing is sort of a cultural swing here and the kids pick up on it," said Dr. Joseph H. Autry III, acting administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the branch of the Department of Health and Human Services that conducts the survey.

Autry recalled that years ago it seemed like everyone was smoking. Then, he'd see the smokers on one side of the room and the nonsmokers on the other side. Now, the same room is likely to prohibit smoking altogether, he said.

Pinpointing the moment of change is difficult.

"It's a cumulative effect, the result of a whole bunch of things coming together," he said.

 
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Drunk driving deaths rise after 5 year decline

WASHINGTON, DC (AP) Oct. 1, 2001 -- The number of people killed by drunken drivers rose last year for the first time in five years, according to federal data.

Overall highway deaths increased to 41,812 in 2000 from 41,717 in 1999, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Forty percent of those, or 16,653, involved alcohol, up from 38 percent, or 15,976, the previous year.

It is only the second time alcohol-related deaths have increased since 1986, when 24,045 people were killed. The number of deaths rose 4 percent from 1994 to 1995, though an overall rise in the number of deaths kept the percentage of deaths that involved alcohol at the same level.

In the last two decades, auto safety advocates have pushed successfully for tougher impaired-driving laws.

"We've already deterred virtually all of the social drinkers," said Chuck Hurley of the National Safety Council. "We're now down to the hard core of people who continue to drink and drive in spite of public scorn, and obviously the only thing they will respond to is increased enforcement."

Safety advocates are pushing for state legislatures to lower the legal standard for drunken driving to 0.08 percent blood alcohol content. Illinois' legal standard is 0.08. Many other states have a 0.10 standard.

Advocates also want tougher penalties for people who repeatedly break drunken-driving laws and are involved in many of the fatal crashes.

"It's like America has become complacent," said Millie Webb, president of Mother's Against Drunk Driving.

Motorcycle fatalities also up

NHTSA also found that motorcycle deaths rose to 2,862 in 2000 from 2,483 in 1999. It's the third straight year of higher motorcycle fatalities after 17 years of declines.

Motorcycle deaths reached a low point in 1997. Since then, at least four states--Texas, Arkansas, Kentucky and Louisiana--have repealed mandatory helmet laws for adult riders.

The number of traffic deaths involving children younger than 16--2,811--was the lowest since record-keeping began in 1975.

"America's highways are safer than ever for children, and the historic low for last year underscores the effectiveness of our highway safety efforts," Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said in a statement. "Unfortunately, we are still losing far too many lives to highway crashes every year, and we need to redouble our efforts."

Deaths dropped for pedestrians and bicycle riders and in accidents involving large trucks.

Single-vehicle rollover accidents fell for all automobiles except sport-utility vehicles. SUV rollover deaths increased 8.9 percent, to 1,684 in 2000 from 1,546 in 1999. NHTSA officials cite growing sales of SUVs.

NHTSA compiles its data from reports by law-enforcement agencies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

 
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Cocaine brings on nearly instant addiction

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (Chicago Tribune) Sept. 30, 2001 -- The reason some people become addicted to cocaine after a brief exposure is that the narcotic has an uncanny ability to alter brain-cell connections, according to researchers at the University of California at San Francisco.

The pattern of activity produced by a single injection of cocaine lasts 5 to 10 days and is similar to the kinds of changes involved in learning and memory, Dr. Antonello Bonci reported in the British journal Nature. The experiments were conducted in rodents.

"The significance of this finding is that a single dose of cocaine usurped a cellular mechanism involved in a normally adaptive learning process, which may help to explain cocaine's ability to take control of incentive-motivational systems in the brain and produce compulsive drug-seeking behavior," he said.

 
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Report: US Drug Use Rate Unchanged

WASHINGTON, DC (AP) Sept. 4, 2001 –– Drug abuse in America was essentially unchanged last year, the government says.

About 6 percent of those over 12 years old – or 14 million Americans – were illegal drug users in 2000, according to an annual survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an arm of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The findings were not significantly different from 1999, either in the overall percentage of drug users or in the use of any of the major illegal drugs.

However, the percentage of 12- and 13-year-olds last year that had used an illegal drug in the month before being interviewed fell to 3 percent from 3.9 percent, the survey found.

The rate of those who had driven under the influence of drugs also declined, to 3.1 percent from 3.4 percent, it said.

In 1999, the number of those trying marijuana for the first time dropped, to 2 million new users from 2.6 million in 1996.

But marijuana use increased among women from 1999 to 2000, from 3.1 percent to 3.5 percent. The survey also identified nonmedical use of the powerful prescription painkiller OxyContin, though still rare, as an emerging concern. The number of OxyContin abusers increased to 399,000 in 2000 from 221,000 in 1999. The pill, which produces a quick, heroin-like and potentially lethal high when chewed, snorted or injected, has been linked to more than 100 deaths nationwide since 1998.

Overall, 1.5 million Americans abused pain relievers for the first time in 1999, a large jump since the mid-1980s when the number was below 400,000. The rise chiefly came among 12- to 17-year-olds.

Edward Jurith, acting director of the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy, said some of the news, especially concerning drug use declines among the youngest adolescents, was encouraging.

But, he said, "More work is required to protect our youth from the harmful effects of drug abuse."

The face-to-face interviews were conducted during 2000 with a sample of 71,764 people.

 
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Chicago cop faces Ecstasy charges

CHICAGO, IL (Chicago Tribune) August 31, 2001 -- A Chicago police officer and three others have been indicted on charges of distributing 1,000 tablets of the club drug Ecstasy last year, authorities said Thursday.

Patrol Officer Brian McCluskey, 26, on the force for three years, was reassigned from the Grand Central District to desk duties in May 2000 when investigators confronted him about the alleged drug-dealing, authorities said.

McCluskey and three codefendants cooperated with investigators, but only one has worked out a plea agreement so far, authorities said.

As a result of the indictment, police spokesman David Bayless said Supt. Terry Hillard will recommend that McCluskey be fired. The Police Board makes the final decision.

Indicted with McCluskey were Philip Seilheimer, 24, of Antioch, and Patrick Amato, 30, and Tiffany Ritchey, 24, both of Woodridge.

All four were indicted on one count each of conspiracy to distribute Ecstasy and distribution of the drug.

According to the charges, Ritchey was asked by an undisclosed individual in April 2000 whether she had a source for 1,000 tablets of Ecstasy. Ritchey approached Amato, who then sought out Seilheimer for the Ecstasy, authorities said.

Seilheimer allegedly obtained the 1,000 tablets from McCluskey near California and Fullerton Avenues.

Seilheimer, Amato and Ritchey then delivered the Ecstasy outside a restaurant in Burbank to an undercover officer working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, according to the charges.

McCluskey's lawyer did not return a call seeking comment.

George Murtaugh Jr., Seilheimer's lawyer, said his client worked out a plea agreement and expects to plead guilty. After agents confronted him and he agreed to cooperate, Seilheimer made several buys of Ecstasy from McCluskey as federal agents watched, Murtaugh said.

 
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Crack Mom Sold Herself and 13 Year Old Daughter

CAPE CORAL, FA. (AP) August 30, 2001 -- A woman allegedly prostituted herself and her 13-year-old daughter for money to buy crack cocaine, which they would smoke together, police said.

Stacy Nihipali, 30, was arrested Tuesday night on two charges of child abuse and neglect, according to the Lee County Sheriff's Office.

The teen-age daughter told investigators her mother paid for drugs by having sex in men's homes or in cars. The daughter would join in, according to the arrest report.

Deputies discovered the abuse when Nihipali and her daughter were caught burglarizing the home of a man who had refused to pay them for sex.

``Turning tricks was their sole support,'' Sgt. Sheila Brooks said. Brooks said the girl did not willingly participate in the sex.

Their drug habit, which could cost up to $1,000 per week, began last January, after the mother moved from Hawaii to Cape Coral with her three children, the daughter told investigators. Nihipali also has a 3-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter .

Nihipali was being held in lieu of $10,000 bail. The daughter is staying with a relative, and the state took custody of Nihipali's younger children, authorities said.

 
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Lethal "speedballs" suspected in 18 deaths

HOUSTON, TX (Reuters) August 14, 2001 -- At least 18 people in the Houston area have died since Saturday from what is suspected to be a deadly combination of cocaine and heroin that illegal drug users call "speedballs," officials said on Tuesday.

Investigators said the victims, most of them Hispanic males, may not have known they were using a combination of drugs and that the drugs may have been purer than normal.

"We think most of the victims thought they were using cocaine, not cocaine and heroin, so they were sniffing more than the usual doses," said Dr. Ashraf Mozayni of the Harris County Medical Examiner's office.

"They like it at first ... then they sleep to die," she told reporters.

Bags containing the drugs were found on several of the victims and in most the deadly chemicals were detected in their blood, officials said.

Police said they had not seen so many drug deaths in Houston, the nation's fourth largest city, in such a short time. In all of July, 31 drug overdose deaths were recorded, they said.

The dead ranged in age from 16 to 46 and were concentrated in a working-class area north of downtown Houston, officials said. A school district in that part of town sent a letter to parents telling them to warn their children to stay away from illegal drugs.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said it was helping local officials trying to track down the source of the drugs.

 
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Suburban Teens Trek to City for Heroin

CHICAGO, IL (Chicago Tribune) August 13, 2001-- The teenage experimenters from Chicago's western suburbs have never known the old heroin, the cooking spoons, the needles and the back rooms of drug houses. Theirs is the user-friendly version, a cheap but pure white powder inhaled with friends willing to make runs from suburbia to city neighborhoods there the new heroin can be bought on the street.

Chicago tactical officers watch them from their surveillance posts in the tough Harrison District on the city's West Side. Teens park their Honda Civics or parents' SUVs and walk into busy open-air drug markets in a place they call "K-town," police say, so dubbed for Kostner and Keeler Avenues and other K-named streets that run through the sometimes troubled area.

"These kids drive in and park the car and walk down blocks that I would be afraid to walk with my gun," Chicago Police Cmdr. Eugene Williams of the Narcotics and Gang Investigations Section said.

Authorities say more and more teens are coming from across the area into the city to buy heroin, but most are from DuPage and Kane Counties.

They are making the trek for the purer forms of the highly addictive drug--and more of them are turning up for treatment at emergency rooms back home.

National statistics from the federal Department of Health and Human Services show heroin use among high school seniors last year reached its highest level since the agency began its annual survey more than two decades ago. Local experts said they fear teens in some suburbs are experimenting at a rate that outpaces even those figures.

Although hard local numbers are difficult to come by, some suburban hospitals and treatment centers say they are now handling more overdose cases involving teens than ever before. The numbers began rising when high-purity heroin, most of it from South America and Mexico, became widely available in Chicago in the late 1990s, officials said.

Hospitals notice a change

Many west suburban hospitals report seeing several overdose cases a month so far this year, compared with only three or four a year in the mid-1990s. Most are described by hospitals as near-misses, but a handful of deaths have been recorded.

Many teens believe the newer variety of heroin is safe, experts said, failing to recognize that what makes the drug effective when snorted is its dangerous purity level. Drug counselors said some youths don't expect the powerful cravings, crippling withdrawal symptoms and lifelong addiction that still come with its use.

Although alcohol abuse still affects many times more teens in the area, heroin has extended its reach into some unlikely places, said Paul Teodo, administrator of behavioral health at Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield.

"The shockers are the cases that are the type of thing you saw in the movie `Traffic,'" Teodo said. "Maybe dad's an executive and the mother is a stay-at-home mom or a schoolteacher. And they live in an area where you wouldn't expect heroin to be a problem."

Young suburbanites have the money to experiment with the drug, which sell for about $10 a hit, police and experts say, and the Eisenhower Expressway offers a convenient way to get quickly into and out of city areas notorious for heroin dealings.

For the most part, police said, neighborhood thugs know not to touch the teens or their cars.

"They walk with impunity, because everyone knows why they're there and where they're going," Williams said. "The sellers protect them because they know these kids represent income, and they'll be back again and again."

As the number of teens coming into the West Side became more noticeable, city police and the DuPage Metropolitan Enforcement Group, a collection of the top drug cops from county departments, occasionally began to run joint stings on the West Side.

Mark Henry of the DuPage group said officers have seen teens make drug buys, traced the license plates of their cars and notified the registered owner, often a parent, where the vehicle has been.

Williams said the teens who enter the drug markets are often are watched but not arrested because surveillance teams fear tipping off the sellers to busts like the one that resulted in more than a dozen arrests in North Lawndale in May.

Risky experimentation

An overdose of the powerful opiate can slow breathing to the point that it stops, and authorities said it's not difficult for teens new to the drug culture to take a dangerous amount.

Dr. Jabeen Hussain, director of adolescent services at Glen Oaks Hospital in Glendale Heights, said as recently as a year or two ago her facility saw a few teenagers annually for heroin overdoses. The hospital now sees an average of one every week or two, Hussain said.

One teen treated there this summer was the son of a Glendale Heights legal secretary who asked that her name not be used. Her 16-year-old's friends used heroin with the teen in her kitchen, and when he began losing consciousness, they called 911 and left.

"I got home and my husband told me our son was in the ambulance, and that he overdosed on heroin," said the mother, whose son survived. "I don't even remember driving to the hospital after that."

New federal data released in July through the Drug Abuse Warning Network shows a slight increase nationally in young teens treated for overdoses at emergency departments in between 1999 and 2000, but officials say the new figures are five times what they were in the early 1990s.

National data from the federal Department of Health and Human Services released earlier this year showed that, among seniors in high school, heroin use rose to 1.5 percent last year from 1.1 percent in 1999. While a small jump, the increase resulted in what officials called the highest rate of heroin use among seniors since the 1970s.

Don Mitckess, resource and referral coordinator for the Linden Oaks treatment center in Naperville, said his facility typically sees 10 teens a month seeking treatment for heroin addiction or counseling.

The purer heroin available today is so addictive that some teens find themselves hooked after two or three uses, Mitckess said. Many turn to injecting the drug and spiral into $40-a-day habits simply to stave off withdrawal symptoms, which include severe flu-like symptoms and muscle pain, experts say.

'A socially acceptable drug'

"Heroin has become more of a socially acceptable drug in this age group," Mitckess said, "and because of the purity and the ability to inhale it, the stigma of the needle is no longer an issue."

Many parents awaken to their teen's habit when valuables go missing.

"It can be expensive, and to avoid withdrawal, life becomes a constant search to score," he said. "It's a daily hustle to get money, and their own stuff starts to disappear--CD players, the VCR, TVs. You ask, `Where'd it go?' and they say, `I don't know.'"

Although the DuPage coroner's office could not provide a number of teen fatalities involving heroin, officials said cases involving accidental fatal overdoses of heroin are no longer viewed as uncommon.

One such case involved Frank Mondia, 16, of unincorporated Wheaton. The teen's last conversation with his father, Frank G. Mondia, was not an extraordinary exchange.

"He was coming in that night and he said, `Dad, I'm taking out the garbage,'" Mondia said recently sitting in the dining room of his home. "I said, `I'm going to bed, I love you,' and he said, `I love you too.' It was the last thing he ever said to me."

Sometime that night, a few days after Christmas, Mondia's son sneaked out and joined a group of youths to cruise the streets of Chicago looking for heroin. They found it, and the teen, a popular sophomore football player at Wheaton North High School, died of an overdose. His stepmother found him the next morning in bed, and an autopsy revealed a lethal amount of heroin in his system along with cocaine and prescription drugs.

Mondia said he had been trying to get his son help at a rehabilitation facility after finding syringes in his room.

He was a good-natured, lovable kid who made some bad choices and didn't get the kind of help he needed quickly enough, Mondia said.

"We talked about finding things to replace this: God, church, music, anything," he said of his son, who was Mondia's best man when he remarried three years ago. "He wanted to straighten his life out and break away, but he just got sucked back in."

 
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Doctor Charged in Oxycontin Death

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (Reuters) - A Florida doctor was charged on Monday with first-degree murder in the death of a patient who misused the controversial pain-reliever OxyContin, his lawyer said.

Dr. Denis Deonarine, 56, was charged under Florida's felony murder law, which allows authorities to file murder charges if someone dies during the commission of another felony, in this case, a trafficking charge for prescribing the drug, attorney Richard Lubin said.

``They are saying he gave the patient a prescription that, in their view, he shouldn't have had. The patient ultimately died,'' Lubin said.

``They've seen fit to charge the doctor. They are not even looking at the fact that the patient abused the drug,'' he added.

Lubin said the patient died after misusing OxyContin in conjunction with alcohol and other drugs.

Officials with the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office were not immediately available for comment.

Deonarine, who was arrested on Friday, made a brief appearance in Palm Beach County court on Monday and was ordered held until Wednesday for a bond hearing.

Last week, US health officials imposed their highest-level warning on OxyContin, a cancer painkiller that has been cited in reports of addiction and overdose deaths. The Food and Drug Administration required the manufacturer, Purdue Pharma LP of Stamford, Connecticut, to put a ``black box warning'' on its label.

OxyContin is regulated as a controlled substance with the same addictive potential as morphine. Reports of misuse have led to legal action in Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky.

``I know OxyContin is the drug du jour. But it's legal and doctors are allowed to prescribe it,'' Lubin said.

 
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Study Focuses on Parent Marijuana Use

WASHINGTON (AP) July 31, 2001 -- Parents who once used marijuana are about three times as likely to have children who use the drug, according to a government study.

The study by the Department of Health and Human Services was based on 9,463 surveys of parents and children conducted between 1979 and 1996 by federal researchers.

``The study points out, once again, the power of parents to help their children stay healthy and drug free,'' said Joseph Autry, director of the department's office on drug abuse.

``It found that parent's attitudes and drug use history - whether a baby boomer or not - had an effect on their children's likelihood of marijuana and other drug use.''

The study found that children mirror their parents in other ways. Parents who felt that taking marijuana wasn't risky tended to have kids who felt the same way.

But researchers also concluded that an increase of drug use in the 1990s can't be blamed on baby boomer parents.

The percentage of parents who had used drugs doubled from 1979 to 1994, but most of the increase occurred in the 1980s, according to the study.

``What we found is that you can't blame the increases in drug use in the mid-1990s on the baby boomer parents,'' said Mark Weber, a department spokesman. Researchers are not certain what caused the spike in the 1990s, he said.

Different studies have shown that marijuana use among youth increased in the 1990s by almost 13 percent.

The new study also found evidence of other factors in marijuana use. Delinquent behavior, drinking and dropping out of school were all strongly associated with marijuana use.

 
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Record Level of Drug Overdoses Reported

WASHINGTON (AP) July 25, 2001 -- Emergency room visits following drug use rose past 600,000 to a record level last year as heroin-related visits jumped sharply and those involving ecstasy increased more than 50 percent.

A survey of hospital emergency rooms in 21 cities showed increases in drug-related visits in seven localities and declines in two with the rest remaining about the same as the year before, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported Wednesday.

Overall, the annual report recorded 601,776 emergency room trips related to drugs in 2000, up from 554,932 a year earlier and the highest since the statistics first were collected in the mid-1980s.

``This report shows again that we face serious gaps in preventing and treating substance abuse, especially with club drugs,'' said Health and Human Services (news - web sites) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson.

``Our first line of defense against substance abuse must be prevention. We need to reach out to people before they become statistics in emergency departments - or worse, in the morgue,'' he said in a statement.

The study found a 15 percent rise in emergency room visits related to heroin and morphine, jumping from 84,409 in 1999 to 97,287 last year.

And the increase for the club drug ecstasy was 58 percent, from 2,850 to 4,511.

Drugs such as ecstasy, Rohypnol and Ketamine are called club drugs because of their growing popularity among young people, who tend to use them at dance clubs.

Cities reporting increases in overall drug-related emergency room trips were Seattle, from 8,426 in 1999 to 11,116 in 2000; Boston, from 11,699 to 14,902; Los Angeles, from 20,678 to 25,288; Miami, from 7,128 to 8,560; Chicago, from 26,158 to 30,330; Minneapolis, from 4,643 to 5,198, and Phoenix, from 8,293 to 9,072.

There were decreases in Baltimore, from 14,172 to 11,505 and San Francisco, from 8,930 to 7,857.

The totals remained about the same in other cities with visits in 2000 listed as Atlanta, 11,114 visits; Buffalo, 2,899; Dallas, 6,798; Denver 4,946; Detroit, 17,042; New Orleans, 4,664; New York, 31,885; Newark 7,749; Philadelphia 23,433; St. Louis, 6,908; San Diego, 7,094, and Washington, 10,303.

Other findings of the report:

-Cocaine-related visits constituted 29 percent - 174,896 - of all drug related emergency room visits in 2000, more than any other illicit substance measured.

Significant increases were reported in Los Angeles, Seattle, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago and Miami.

Decreases were noted in Baltimore, Newark, Washington and New Orleans.

-Heroin-morphine visits rose in Miami, New Orleans, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta and Minneapolis. There were decreases in Baltimore and San Francisco.

-Marijuana-hashish reported increases in Seattle, Boston, Miami, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Denver and Chicago.

-Methamphetamine-speed was mentioned in 2 percent of drug related emergency department visits in 2000, rising from 10,447 to 13,513. Increases were reported in Phoenix, Seattle, Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta and San Diego.

-Emergency department mentions of prescription drugs containing oxycodone increased 68 percent from 6,429 to 10,825. One brand of oxycodone, OxyContin, has been blamed in several deaths, though it is not the only drug containing oxycodone.

 
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TRIAL ORDERED IN KAVA TEA CASE

SAN MATEO, CA (San Jose Mercury News) July 24, 2001 -- Three San Mateo County judges have ruled that a Pacific Islander man should stand trial on a charge of driving under the influence of drinking kava tea.

The decision, made public Monday and written by Superior Court Judge Quentin Kopp, overturns an earlier dismissal of the case against Sione Olive, 26, of Arizona.

Olive was visiting family in East Palo Alto last year. On June 17, 2000, police stopped him after he reportedly drove erratically, swerving to the shoulder while driving slowly, said San Mateo County prosecutor Steve Wagstaffe. Olive reportedly had watery eyes and sluggish movements. He failed field sobriety tests but passed a Breathalyzer test for alcohol, Wagstaffe said.

Olive was arrested after telling police he had consumed 23 cups of kava tea, Wagstaffe said.

"Our position is kava is an intoxicating substance when consumed to an excessive degree," Wagstaffe said. "We believe it caused him to drive in an unsafe manner."

Though there is no law prohibiting driving under the influence of kava, there is a general statute against driving while intoxicated, whether by alcohol, Valium or glue, Wagstaffe said.

Judges Carl Holm and Rosemary Pfeiffer concurred in the ruling.

Defense attorney Hugo Borja said he would appeal the judges' ruling in the coming weeks.

"They can't tie kava tea to an alcoholic beverage or drug" under the statute, Borja said.

 
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STUDY: POT USE UP AMONG CITY YOUTH

CHICAGO (Chicago Sun Times) June 30, 2001 -- Kids growing up in Chicago and other cities watched heroin and crack cocaine wreck the lives of adults in their neighborhoods and opted for smoking pot in the 1990s.

But children in the suburbs didn't live through those life-and-death experiences and grew up with a taste for much harder drugs, such as Ecstasy.

These are some of the findings of Andrew Golub, a New York researcher who has been exploring drug trends of the last decade.

A study to be released today shows that Chicago led the nation in marijuana use among young adults who were arrested in the '90s. Most of those were from the city, said Golub, a co-author of the study.

A whole other population of young adults in the suburbs abused club drugs such as Ecstasy in the last decade, according to a separate study Golub plans to publish this fall.

"Youths in wealthier enclaves have not been afforded the same lessons yet," Golub said Friday.

The study was funded by the U.S. Justice Department and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It tracked young adults ages 18 to 20 who underwent urine tests for drugs after they were arrested from 1987 through 1999.

Seventy-four percent of the Chicago youths tested positive for marijuana in 1999--the highest level of the 23 cities included in the study. Among young adults in trouble with the law, pot smoking started to escalate in Chicago in 1992 and steadily rose through 1997, when it reached a relative plateau, the study showed.

"There is evidence to suggest that the incubation phase of the new marijuana epidemic began with the youthful, inner-city, predominately African-American hip-hop movement," Golub said.

The good news, according to the study, is that the theory that smoking pot leads to abusing hard drugs may not be true.

"It would also be good news if the marijuana use were associated with a rejection of crack and heroin due to their potentially devastating consequences," the study said.

Chicago police spokesman Pat Camden confirmed that marijuana is the drug of choice for 18- to 20-year-olds, but he said it's not uncommon for young adults to use Ecstasy with pot.

Police seizures of marijuana have increased significantly in Chicago in recent years, Camden said.

The study's findings suggest that a new approach is needed for combatting drug abuse in Chicago, New York and elsewhere, Golub said.

"Drug control policies in this population should look more closely at some of the underlying issues, such as poverty, lack of community and family support, and lack of educational and career opportunities," he said.

"[But] these youths are not damaging themselves as much physically and socially as previous generations of crack and heroin users."

 
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DEVICE TESTS EYES FOR DRUG USE

HAMILTON, CANADA (Toronto Star) 06/27/01 -- New technology that tests for drug and alcohol use by measuring the eye's reaction to light is set to make its Canadian debut in Ontario's jails. That means that rather than giving a urine sample, inmates will only have to stare into a specially-designed viewfinder to determine if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Correctional Services Minister Rob Sampson revealed that he is in discussions with an American company to bring its cutting-edge technology to provincial correctional facilities when new random drug testing policies come into effect early next year.

The new technology "is the least invasive (testing method), it's pretty quick and extremely accurate,'' says Sampson. "It looks like a pair of goggles and it's hooked up to a computer.''

The "fitness impairment screener'' is manufactured by a Maryland-based company called PMI Incorporated. It is currently in the process of being approved for use as a medical device in Canada.

Urine samples have always been the most common method of testing for alcohol and drugs, but it is a time consuming and costly procedure which raises health concerns about the safe handling of the samples.

The PMI screener is a device the size of a fax machine which has a viewing area built into it. The person being tested must establish a normal baseline by looking into the viewfinder which measures the pupil's diametre "at rest.'' Once a baseline is established, every other test is a comparison with that "at rest'' measurement.

The person taking the test looks into the viewfinder as a flashing light moves from side to side and the machine measures the pupils' reflex to the light. The time if takes for the pupil to react by constricting - called the saccadic velocity - is measured, as well as how much it constricts.

Those measurements are then compared by the machine to those taken "at rest'' to determine if the test subject's reflex has been impaired.

The screener works by measuring the reflexes of the central nervous system, a system which can be impaired by prescription drugs, street drugs and alcohol. If the person taking the test keeps his eyes closed or refuses to follow the flashing lights, the machine will say the test is incomplete.

The test takes 30 seconds, is non-invasive, can be self-administered, costs between $3 and $5 Canadian to do and is tamper-proof, according to PMI.

What the eye scan can't do is determine whether a positive test is the result of drugs, alcohol or sleep deprivation. For that, the ministry must have a "cascading system'' to diagnose the cause of the test failure, says Sampson. If an inmate fails the eye screen test, he or she will then have to provide a urine sample which can be tested for the exact cause of the failure.

The screener is also only able to determine whether someone is impaired at that exact moment. Unlike a urine test which can detect drugs or alcohol consumed hours or even days earlier, the screener only knows if a person is being affected by a substance at the exact moment the test is taken.

PMI's screener is used most often for "safety-critical industrial settings,'' says company spokesperson Ed Hotchkiss. In Australia, for instance, it is used to screen coal mine workers before they go underground. It has also been used to test Coast Guard pilots. One year ago, it was adopted by the Arizona penal system to conduct random drug tests on inmates and parolees. And Manhattan is in the process of bringing the screener into its jails for the same reason.
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HIGH ON PCP, DRIVER KILLS INFANT

CHICAGO (AP) The driver of a car that plowed into family walking along Michigan Avenue in Chicago, killing an infant and critically injuring his parents, was charged Monday with reckless homicide, police said.

Bridget Lake, 24, of Chicago, also was cited for driving under the influence of drugs, specifically PCP, said Chicago police spokesman Thomas Donegan. In addition, she was issued citations for driving over a median and driving on a sidewalk

The accident happened Saturday night as the family was strolling about two blocks from their home. A southbound 2000 Ford Escort jumped a curb and plowed into the family before it crashed into scaffolding outside a condominium and stopped, police said.

The woman apparently lost control of the car after sideswiping another vehicle, police said.

Omar Mahmoud, 2½ months, was pronounced dead before arriving at a hospital. His father, Sherif Mahmoud, 27, and mother, Rasha Shehata, 28, were taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where they remained in critical condition Monday night. Police said relatives from Egypt had been notified and were coming to Chicago.

Lake was taken to Illinois Masonic Hospital, where a hospital spokeswoman said she was treated for a fracture, and was in good condition.

 
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CLUB DRUGS: DIFFICULT TO DETECT IN TEENS

CHICAGO (Chicago Tribune) April 15, 2001 -- Your 15-year-old daughter returns from a friend's house smelling like blueberries; you think, "Girls today, dousing themselves in these crazy fruity scents."

Your 17-year-old son carries a half-filled water bottle when he leaves for the night; you think, "Wow, he must be pretty dehydrated from basketball practice."

Your college freshman, home for spring break, fishes his retainer from his nightstand after a two-year sabbatical; you think, "He's finally taken an interest in proper oral health care."

But what you don't know is your daughter may be drinking engine degreaser, your son is downing capfuls of a date-rape-like drug, and your college kid's Ecstasy use is grinding away three years' worth of orthodontia. In other words, you might think your teenager has avoided the lure of club drugs, but you'd be wrong.

Teenagers are known to exhibit unusual behavior even when drug-free. But a combination of increased availability and low perceived harm of club drugs such as Ecstasy (3-4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA,) GHB (gammahydroxybutyrate) and Ketamine (a veterinary anesthetic) has yielded a dramatic increase in use among teens. What's more, their indulgence often is far less obvious than that betrayed by the bloodshot eyes of pot or the stink of booze.

'I don't do drugs, I just do Ecstasy'

"I've heard, 'I don't do drugs, I just do Ecstasy,' more times than I can count," said Theresa Lacey, a Loyola University freshman and volunteer coordinator for the Chicago chapter of DanceSafe, a not-for-profit harm-reduction organization promoting safety within the rave and nightclub community. Raves are massive dance parties that may involve club drugs. "Many kids don't think it's a drug because it's not messy. Nothing is going up their nose or in a vein; there's none of the conventional social construction of what a drug is."

Dr. Jerrold Leikin, associate medical director of emergency services at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, described club drugs as a growing menace that is just starting to catch parents' attention. Helping attract that attention are well publicized overdoses, such as the March 17 death of 20-year-old James C. Roberts III of Dayton, Ohio, who died after a party in Rosemont.

"There's an almost unlimited amount of substances that can be abused out there," Leikin said. "Parents need to have a heightened suspicion of any aberrant behavior by a child or teenager."

Mood swings, slurred speech and academic slumps, he said, are typical warning signs; less obvious may be the aforementioned retainer use to correct shifting caused by bruxism (tooth grinding), a common Ecstasy side effect.

Surveying more than 45,000 high school students, the National Institute on Drug Abuse's 2000 Monitoring the Future study found that although overall illicit drug use has remained stable or decreased during the last four years, Ecstasy is one of the few drugs showing a statistically significant increase from 1999 to 2000. Eleven percent of high school seniors reported having tried Ecstasy at least once, up from 8 percent the previous year. Its perceived availability also increased.

Teens can easily buy pills and tonics from nutrition stores or over the Internet, perfectly legal substances that produce the same effects as common club drugs. For instance, Leikin said, certain muscle-building and sleep-enhancing supplements contain a substance called GBL, which upon ingestion converts to GHB. Also called Liquid G, GHB is a salty, odorless liquid that can cause everything from mild hallucinations and euphoria to retrograde amnesia, coma and respiratory failure.Last New Year's, a 19-year-old Downers Grove woman almost died after ingesting GBL in the form of Verve, an auto degreaser that can smell like artificial blueberry.

Steve Svoboda, DanceSafe's Chicago liaison, listed certain paraphernalia that could suggest club drug use, including pacifiers (to relieve clenching,) Vicks VapoRub (Ecstasy enhances sensations of smell, taste and touch,) or 5-HTP, a supplement taken to offset Ecstasy-induced depression the day after. But Svoboda was quick to point out that club drugs are not confined to the rave community.

Nevertheless, in mid-March, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley advocated stiffened penalties for building owners who knowingly permit raves where illegal drugs are sold and used. The proposal was in reaction to the recent trend of rave promoters moving parties from illegal warehouses to legitimate entertainment venues, thus evading current ordinances.

"If your kid goes to raves, that doesn't mean he does drugs," Svoboda said, however. "I would say there are less under-the-influence party kids at raves than there are . . . at bars, clubs or even Cubs games."

In an attempt to screen out potentially lethal substances mixed into Ecstasy, such as speed or DXM (an active ingredient in cough suppressant,) DanceSafe has provided free pill-testing booths at Chicago-area venues, including the Harvey Expo Center.

Svoboda acknowledged that although abstinence would be ideal, "the kid with pill in hand, ready to consume, obviously is ignoring every abstinence message the government or concerned parents can provide. All we can do is wind up discouraging them from taking it by telling them it's not what they expected."

And sometimes the issue isn't just the damage that a drug can do to a body but also what can befall someone who is under the influence of the drugs.

So DanceSafe talks with teens (particularly adolescent females and gay males) about the risk of sexual assault, which is heightened by drugs such as Ecstasy and GHB.

Lacey explained that Ecstasy tends to lower inhibitions and increase trust between strangers and that GHB can cause amnesia, both opening the doorway to becoming a victim.

And that, according to DanceSafe and others trying to get the word out, would be good not to forget.

The lexicon of club drugs can be as confusing as the symptoms of use.Here is a primer on terms:

- Bumps: Ketamine powder is snorted in the form of bumps.

- Caps: GHB is ingested orally, usually from the cap of a water bottle.

- G-ing out: overdosing on GHB.

- K-Hole: Achieving the out-of-body experience and hallucinations produced by Ketamine, during which it may be very difficult to move.

- P.L.U.R.: A common mantra at raves, stands for "Peace, Love, Unity, Respect."

- Rolling: While on Ecstasy, the user may experience waves of pleasurable feelings.

Common names for club drugs:

- Ecstasy: X, E, MDMA, rolls.

- GHB: G, Liquid G.

- Ketamine: K, Special K, Vitamin K.

 
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Pragmatic Dutch Tolerate Ecstasy Use

AMSTERDAM (Washington Post) April 14, 2001 -- At a jam-packed private party at the edge of this city's red-light district, the theme one recent night was 1980s retro, the music was blaring and much of the crowd was in an Ecstasy-energized frenzy.

"Is this a great party or what?" said a sweaty young American, pushing his way to the bar for three glasses of tap water for himself and two friends.

When people are on the drug that's often called just "e," they feel elated and packed with pep. Often they dance so hard that consuming lots of water is essential to prevent serious dehydration.

The young American, a newcomer to the Amsterdam scene, knows all about the potentially dangerous side effects of "e" - the next-day comedown, the slight depression and the repetitive, involuntary tooth-grinding that often leaves e-users with day-after sore gums.

But there are ways to counteract these effects, he says, sounding like a veteran user. Chewing gum stops the teeth-gnashing. Eating an orange the morning after helps balance out the mood swings.

Drug enforcement officials, lawmakers and health care experts in the United States are sounding a nationwide alarm about Ecstasy, also known as "x" or "happy pills," calling it the fastest-growing drug in the illegal marketplace. There were congressional hearings last year, new federal legislation to stiffen penalties and reports of huge Ecstasy busts by the U.S. Customs Service - 2.1 million tablets were seized in Los Angeles last summer.

But here in the Netherlands, where an estimated 80 percent of the world's Ecstasy is manufactured, people and government alike treat its use as a fact of the cultural landscape. "It's everywhere," said Monique, a 30-year-old waitress who began using it a decade ago. "I come from a really small village, and it was there," she said, asking that her full name not be used. "At house parties it's still around, definitely."

For years, Holland has pursued what may be the industrial world's most tolerant approach to drug use. Amsterdam is dotted with "smoking shops," establishments where people can buy small amounts of marijuana and hashish without fear of prosecution. Officials have extended this tolerance to Ecstasy, and take what they call a pragmatic view that, whether Society likes it or not, a certain number of people are going to use the drug, so the risks should be minimized.

Here, party-goers can take their Ecstasy pills to a branch of a drug treatment center to have them tested and the contents analyzed. The pill is then handed back. If the clinic technicians cannot immediately determine the content of a pill, they offer to send it to a laboratory for further tests.

That's not a problem for most users, because they tend to buy their pills in batches of five or six.

Upon completion of the test, "we give them a card telling them what they can expect if they take this pill," said Harold Wychgel, a Health Ministry spokesman.

The pill-testing program serves another purpose, he said; it gives the government accurate and up-to-date data on what pills are on the market and how prevalent the use is, as well as a profile of the users.

The government has also issued a white paper laying out rules for the underground parties, or "raves," where Ecstasy use is prevalent. For example, party sites must be well ventilated and there must be plenty of free water available, to prevent e-users from becoming dehydrated through all-night dancing. There must also be a "chill-out" room, a cool and quiet place where "ravers" can sit peacefully to calm down.

Officials also say their strategy of tolerating use should not be interpreted by their American counterparts as tolerating trafficking and manufacturing. Ecstasy remains illegal in Holland and is classified as a hard drug, like heroin and cocaine.

Authorities make war on production sites. In the past year they have dismantled 35, said Peter Reijnders, who heads the Synthetic Drugs Unit, a multi-agency group created in 1997 that includes customs agents, police, tax enforcers and public prosecutors.

"The Netherlands is a main producer of Ecstasy," Reijnders said. "But the Netherlands is not the only producing country. We see more and more production coming up in other Western countries, Belgium and Greece, and also in Eastern Europe. . .'. That is why it is important to put emphasis on international cooperation."

The typical Ecstasy laboratory is a fairly complex affair, somewhat larger than the "kitchenettes" used to manufacture methamphetamine in the United States. Two chemical precursors are required, which come from Eastern Europe and, in smaller amounts, Southeast Asia, officials said.

As always with illegal drugs, the profits are huge, so organized crime has a stake in keeping the trade and manufacturing alive. One tablet can be made for about $1 maximum, and usually a bit less. In the house-party scene in New York, one tablet can fetch as much as $20.

The small size of Ecstasy tablets also makes them easy to smuggle across borders. Sometimes they're disguised; the Dutch police have found them being shipped out in vitamin bottles. The pills come in different colors - blue, green, brown, orange - and sometimes with small emblems stamped on them that give them their nicknames. One popular brand, for example, is the "blue butterfly," which shows the butterfly stamped on its front.

Invented by German psychiatrists in 1912, and used to combat depression and to help couples having trouble in their sexual relationships, the aptly named Ecstasy - known as the "love drug" because it engenders feelings of warmth and a heightened sexuality - was not even illegal until the 1980s, when it was discovered that it was being used on the rave party scene, which originated in Britain.  

There have been a handful of deaths attributed to Ecstasy, mostly in Britain and mostly young people who suffered severe dehydration from all-night dancing. But for years, "e," which has the chemical name MDMA for methylenedioxymethamphetamine, has been seen here as a relatively benign drug, not addictive and with relatively minor side effects.

The drug works by stimulating the brain to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects feelings of happiness. There may also be mild, pleasant hallucinations and an increase in energy.  

New scientific research now suggests that over time, and with heavy use, the "love drug" may not be so benign. The brain can produce only a finite amount of serotonin over a lifetime, so heavy "e" use - several pills every weekend for years - may cause the serotonin to be used up, perhaps making depression more likely later in life. The National Institute on Drug Abuse also has reported that Ecstasy use increases heart rate and blood pressure and may lead to liver damage. And heavy use may cause problems with memory.

Still, many people here, whether they're health and legal experts or casual weekend users, consider the official American reaction alarmist. "I think . . . the Americans are overreacting," said Tim Boekhout van Solinge, a researcher and lecturer in criminology who has studied Ecstasy use extensively.

"I've gone to raves with researchers and I've spoken to dozens of rave-goers," he said. "One thing I've found is that rave-goers are so responsible."

"This is a trend," he said. "It's not going to stay. It's so much linked to a specific youth culture, the rave scene. And no one thinks the rave scene is going to last 20 years."

Boekhout van Solinge and other experts also dispute American suggestions that tolerance of soft drugs such as marijuana leads young people to try harder drugs later on.

There is one worrying trend, officials here say: As more reports come in of the potential dangers of Ecstasy, some party-goers may be switching back to another old favorite drug, cocaine.

Copyright: 2001 The Washington Post Company

 
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Drug Could Block Cannabis High, Dependance

ENGLAND (BBC News) April 13, 2001 -- Scientists have found a way to stop cannabis users feeling the key mood changes associated with the drug. Medication produced from this chemical could help relieve any psychological dependence felt by cannabis users trying to stop taking it, the researchers say.

Cannabis works by releasing chemicals which can bind to "receptor sites" in the brain, in turn leading to the release of mood-altering chemicals within the organ.

These "cannabinoid receptors" are densely packed in the regions of the brain concerned with learning and memory, attention and control of movement.

Dr Marilyn Huestis at the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Baltimore, tested the effects of a chemical developed to block these receptor sites, preventing the cannabinoids from reaching their target.

Volunteers were either given the "blocking" chemical, or a dud placebo, and then smoked one marijuana cigarette.

Those who had taken the blocking formula showed significantly reduced marijuana effects.

Increasing doses of the chemical appeared to have an increasing effect on the sensation associated with cannabis.

Other physical effects of cannabis were reduced.

Volunteers given the highest dose of the chemical had an increase in heart rate, but only 59% of what might be expected if cannabis alone had been taken.

Dr Alan Leshner, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said: "This research helps point the way toward possible treatment for those addicted to marijuana and perhaps may be useful in finding effective treatments for other disorders related to the cannabinoid system."

Controversial theories:

The long-term effects of cannabis on the body are still a matter of controversy.

While researchers at the NIDA have released studies which they say point to the possibility of physical addiction to the drug, other scientists say that this is impossible.

A spokesman for the UK advice group Drugscope said a degree of psychological addiction was present in some users, but no more than this.

He said: "Some users find that they rely on cannabis to get them through the day, but there is no physical dependency to the drug.

"If this chemical helps release them from this psychological bond, then it might be of some use."

Medications already exist to help wean addicts off drugs such as heroin by making them feel desperately ill should they take the drug while the medicine is in their body.

Some users find that they rely on cannabis to get them through the day, but there is no physical dependency to the drug. -- Spokesman, Drugscope

 
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Stripper sentenced in Ecstasy crash that killed six

LAS VEGAS (AP) March 22, 2001 -- A Las Vegas stripper was sentenced Friday to 18 to 48 years in prison for having drugs in her system when the van she was driving crashed off a freeway and killed six teen-agers.

Jessica Williams, who turned 22 in jail a week ago, apologized in halting words to the families of the six teens killed while picking up trash in a freeway median on March 19, 2000.

"Words are inadequate to express my remorse and sorrow for the six young people who were killed," she said in her first courtroom comments since her arrest.Williams did not testify during the trial but admitted she smoked marijuana two hours before the crash. Her lawyer said she used the stimulant-hallucinogen Ecstasy 10 hours earlier but maintained that she was not impaired and simply fell asleep before her van ran off Interstate 15 just north of Las Vegas.

Killed were Jennifer Booth, 16; Rebeccah Glicken, 15; Scott Garner Jr., 14; Alberto Puig, 16; Anthony Smith, 14, and Malena Stoltzfus, 15.

A jury found her guilty Feb. 16 of six counts of felony driving with a prohibited substance in her blood, a subsection of the state's driving while under the influence law. She also was convicted of two lesser charges that she did not contest - drug possession and drug use.

She faced a possible sentence of from two to 120 years in prison on the DUI charges, depending on whether District Court Judge Mark Gibbons imposed concurrent or consecutive sentences. Each of the six DUI counts carried a possible sentence of from two to 20 years in state prison.

Her defense lawyer, John Watkins, has promised to appeal and challenge the constitutionality of a law that makes it a crime to have drugs in the blood stream but be found not impaired while driving.

Prosecutor Gary Booker called the crash "the most heinous and horrendous traffic crime Clark County has ever seen" and asked Gibbons to impose a stiff sentence.

Families of the victims spent a wrenching and tearful morning offering victim impact statements and pleading with the judge to impose the maximum sentence.

"In four and a half seconds we lost six children," said Doug Gould, stepfather of victim Scott Garner Jr. "Because Jessica decided to do a felony, we've lost them."

The judge chose a mid-range sentence. Williams will be eligible for parole at age 39 due to credit for time served.

 
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U.S. panel toughens sentencing for ecstasy

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2001 (Reuters) - The U.S. Sentencing Commission sharply increased the guideline penalties for selling the hallucinogenic amphetamine known as ecstasy, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

Beginning May 1, the punishment for importing or selling the party drug will be more severe than for selling powder cocaine, the report said.

The new sentencing guidelines to be followed by federal judges will roughly triple the likely prison term for sale of 200 grams of ecstasy -- about 800 pills -- from 15 months to five years, the newspaper said. The penalty for sale of 8,000 pills will rise from 41 months to 10 years, the Post said.

According to the report, advocates of higher penalties, including the Justice Department, contend the punishment is needed to curb the dramatic increase in the drug's use in recent years, particularly among teenagers and young adults.

Advocates of tougher penalties say the federal law is targeted at manufacturers, importers and dealers, not adolescents at rave parties, the Post said.

Opponents told the commission that ecstasy is not as addictive or destructive as the opiates and hallucinogens that have inspired similarly long sentences.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers accused the commission of ignoring scientific testimony.

"This is a wholly political act," said the group's president Edward Mallett. "The scientific experts we presented in the hearing before the commission testified unequivocally that ecstasy is not addictive and causes none of the long-term harm caused by heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine," he said in a statement.

"Many sons and daughters will go to prison because they don't study federal rules before they go out on Saturday night," said Mallett, who also testified before the commission at a hearing on Monday.

A hallucinogenic, stimulant drug, ecstasy is consumed in the United States by a growing legion of young fans who use it as a fuel for dance parties.

 
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Girl, 13, died of heroin/cocaine overdose

MIRAMAR, FLORIDA (The Sun-Sentinel) March 8, 2001 -- Investigators have determined that a 13-year-old girl found dead by teenage friends in Miramar last month died from taking cocaine and heroin, and police have charged a Davie man accused of supplying the drugs with murder.

After the four friends spent the night at one friend's house, the three older teens found Sherry Maresco lying face-down in the home's living room in the 7900 block of Meridian Street. Before the friends went to sleep, Sherry had been vomiting.

Cocaine toxicity caused extensive bleeding in her lungs, which led to the form of pneumonia that killed her, the Broward County Medical Examiner's Office ruled. Heroin and Xanax toxicity were contributing factors.

Several people close to Maresco said they knew or suspected the Silver Lakes Middle School seventh-grader might have been taking drugs.

State agents located Jose Enrique Melendez in Fort Myers early Wednesday and charged him with first-degree murder. He delivered the drugs to Maresco, Miramar police said.

Before moving out over the weekend, Melendez had been staying with his mother in the Silver Oaks Mobile Home Park in Davie, where Maresco spent weekends.

Her father, Ronald Maresco, who also lives in that mobile home park, said Sherry would spend weekend nights with him or with other friends who live in the park. The night before she died, she told him she was going to the movies with friends, then called later to ask if she could stay at her friend Christina Delarosa's house, Ronald Maresco said.

Her death the next day at the home of a 19-year-old Miramar man came as a shock.

"I was with her the day before. She was happy-go-lucky. Hugging daddy. Kissing daddy," Maresco said at the gate of his trailer Wednesday evening.

"Maybe she might've tried cocaine before, but I know my daughter herself didn't buy heroin. She's against drugs," Maresco said. "I take a lot of pain medication. She'd say, 'Daddy, watch yourself.'"

 
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ECSTASY, WATER KILLED TEEN

BOULDER, CO (Denver Post) Feb. 10, 2001 -- Brittney Chambers died from drinking too much water after taking Ecstasy at her 16th birthday party, the Boulder County coroner said Friday, ending speculation about a tainted pill.

One week after Brittney was removed from life support, Coroner John Meyer said the girl died of water intoxication, called hyponatremia.

After swallowing the drug the evening of Jan. 27 at her mother's Superior home, she drank bottle after bottle of water, Meyer said. That flushed sodium from her body and caused her brain to swell and lose oxygen.

If she hadn't taken in so much water, Meyer said, Brittney probably wouldn't have died.

"But I want to be very clear. The underlying cause of death in this case is MDMA, or Ecstasy," Meyer said. "Without the ingestion of this drug, there is no reason to believe she would have been in this situation."

MDMA stands for methylenedioxymethamphetamine.

Meyer said it's nearly impossible to determine how much water she drank. Four 16-ounce bottles were found with her in the bathroom, and each had been refilled several times, he said.

Estimates vary on the amount of water required for water intoxication. It is generally considered to be more than a gallon or two in a short period, based on body weight. Meyer said no other drugs or alcohol were found in Brittney's system.

Ecstasy - widely considered a safe and popular stimulant and psychedelic drug by young people who frequent dance parties known as raves - can cause problems in several ways, Meyer said.

It causes dehydration from an increased body temperature and physical exertion, he said, so users often drink lots of water.

But Ecstasy causes the kidneys to retain water and produces an abnormal sense of thirst. It also can cause compulsive behavior, further driving users to drink water, Meyer said.

Brittney's death is the first directly caused by Ecstasy in Boulder County, Meyer said. He said other coroners have told him they have yet to see an Ecstasy-related death.

Adding salt to water or drinking sports drinks like Gatorade can help prevent water intoxication.

Bruce Mendelson, a substance abuse researcher with the Colorado Department of Human Services, said the case has prompted the state health department to re-examine drug deaths for the past five years, looking for hyponatremia as an underlying factor.

In 1999, four people died in Colorado from hyponatremia, he said. They all were 50 or older and had medical problems. None of them had taken drugs.

A death like Brittney's, Mendelson said, is exceedingly rare.

"This is the only case I have heard of in Colorado where you have this combination of an Ecstasy death that is related to water intoxication," he said.

Brittney took a green, clovershaped Ecstasy pill four girlfriends bought for her for $25 as a birthday gift. Her mother called 911 after she found her vomiting, and Brittney slipped into a weeklong coma before being removed from life support Feb. 2.

The four Monarch High School girls appeared in Boulder County court for the first time Friday. They face charges of unlawful use and distribution of Ecstasy, and of conspiracy.

Two adults have also been charged in Brittney's death. Travis Schuerger, 20, and Rebecca Sheffield, 18, were arrested for allegedly selling the drug that killed her. They each could face 12 to 48 years in prison.

A water-intoxication death widely reported in Great Britain is eerily similar to Brittney's.

Leah Betts, a British teenager who took one tablet of Ecstasy at her 18th birthday party, died in 1995 after drinking massive amounts of water.

Endurance athletes have long been cautioned against drinking too much water.

 
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Abuse of Prescription Drug "Oxy" Spreads

PIKEVILLE, Ky. (AP) Feb. 9, 2001 –– The robber asked for only one thing when he walked into a pharmacy with a mask over his head and an automatic rifle in his hands: OxyContin.

The prescription drug, meant to be a painkiller for cancer patients, is being abused throughout the East, authorities say.

In Kentucky, about 200 people were arrested and charged this week in what police say was the largest drug raid in state history. All had allegedly been using or dealing OxyContin.

"They'll kick a bag of cocaine out of the way to get to 'Oxy,'" Detective Roger Hall of the Harlan County sheriff's department in Kentucky said this week.

Over the past two years, the drug has become popular in parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and Maine, according to the U.S. Department of Justice's National Drug Intelligence Center.

U.S. Attorney Joseph Famularo, who helped lead the Kentucky bust, said he has studied autopsy reports and determined that the drug has caused 59 deaths in Kentucky alone.

The company that manufactures OxyContin disputes Famularo's figures.

"Even one death from abuse is a tragedy. My concern is that numbers sometimes take on a life of their own in a situation like this," said Dr. J. David Haddox, senior medical director for health policy at Purdue Pharma in Stamford, Conn. "I've not seen any data that those numbers are anywhere close to accurate."

Famularo said people have been crushing the pills into powder and snorting it, or injecting it to get a euphoric high similar to that of heroin.

It sells on the illegal drug market for up to $100 a pill.

In Tuesday's drug roundup, police charged a nurse with stealing OxyContin from her hospital, said Capt. Danny Webb of the Kentucky State Police in Hazard.  Webb said another suspect worked in a doctor's office and allegedly called in prescriptions for OxyContin to pharmacies. Her husband would then pick up the pills, police said.

In Ohio, two doctors were arrested recently in connection with OxyContin prescriptions.

In Maine last year, 11 people were accused of obtaining OxyContin by forging prescriptions.

The drug has led to an increase in crime in eastern Kentucky, said Hazard Police Chief Rod Maggard. He estimated 90 percent of the thefts and burglaries in Hazard are to get money to buy more pills.

In a detox center in Ashland, about 75 percent of the patients treated over the past 18 months have used OxyContin, said Bill Stewart, a supervisor for the regional mental health agency.

OxyContin's withdrawal symptoms, Stewart said, involve nausea, diarrhea and severe stomach cramps.

"People very much want to go back to use again, instead of suffering through withdrawal," Stewart said.

Traditionally, Stewart said, drugs like crack cocaine and heroin arrived in Kentucky long after they became popular in urban centers like New York, Miami or Los Angeles. "But we seem to have caught on real fast to this drug," he said.

Police believe people in the region are more likely to abuse prescription medications because they are more readily available than illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin and carry less of a social stigma.

The Kentucky bust wasn't the state's first encounter with the drug. Last May, 10 people were charged with running a drug operation out of a rural home that police say was nearly as busy as a local fast-food restaurant's drive-through window.

OxyContin was among the drugs they allegedly offered for sale.

Police saw more than 59,000 vehicles pull up to the driveway of the rural home during a five-month period last year. Investigators say as many as 600 were seen in the driveway in one day.

"I'd love to be able to put an end this problem," said Britt Lewis, administrator of a medical clinic in Harlan. "There's too many people dying."    

 
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Single Green Clover Ecstasy Pill is fatal to teen

BOULDER, CO (Denver Post) Feb. 3, 2001 - Brittney Chambers, the girl thrown into a weeklong coma after swallowing the drug Ecstasy at her 16th birthday party, was removed from life-support Friday and died a short time later.

Her death came hours after police arrested two adults and four Monarch High School girls for their roles in placing the fatal pill in Brittney's hands.

"If there is any good that can come from this, it won't be the prosecution of these young people, but hopefully it will be in a recognition that drugs are not something to play around with,"  Boulder County Sheriff George Epp said. "It's a very sobering incident for our community."

Brittney was pronounced dead at 1:18 p.m., the county coroner's office said. An initial autopsy showed her death resulted from "complications of amphetamine" ingestion.

Tests are under way to identify the specific amphetamine and determine the presence of other drugs, the office said.

The girl's family declined to comment Friday. Brittney attended Monarch as a freshman last year, but moved to Arizona to live with her father. She was visiting Colorado for her birthday.

Brittney took a green, clovershaped Ecstasy pill her girlfriends bought for her for $25 as a birthday gift. They allegedly gave it to her at her birthday party on Jan. 27 at her mother's house in Superior.

Travis Schuerger, a 20-year-old already facing jail time for selling Ecstasy in Denver in November, and his 18-year-old girlfriend, Rebecca A. Sheffield, were arrested for allegedly selling the drug that killed Brittney.

Schuerger was being held on $7,500 bond in the Boulder County Jail and Sheffield on a $2,500 bond.

The two won't face murder charges but could face a "special offender" charge that could land them in prison for 12 to 48 years, the equivalent sentence for seconddegree murder.

The charge carries a stiff penalty because it involves the sale of a drug on school grounds.

Schuerger and Sheffield declined to comment through a lawyer, but investigators said they admitted to supplying the drug.

Four girls ages 15 and 16 also were arrested. They face charges of unlawful use and distribution of Ecstasy, and conspiracy.

According to an arrest-warrant affidavit:

The pill ended up in Brittney's hands after one of the four girls brokered a deal with Sheffield, a fellow Monarch student reportedly known to sell drugs. That girl was approached by two other girls at school on Jan. 26 about where they could buy Ecstasy. She allegedly passed a note in class to Sheffield asking if she had any pills. Sheffield, the broker and the two girls met in a school bathroom. The girls bought four pills for $100 and took the drug to the Jan. 27 party.

The fourth girl also was involved in obtaining the Ecstasy and attended the Jan. 27 party.

Schuerger allegedly supplied Sheffield with the Ecstasy.

Investigators also are continuing to piece together details of the party, attended by about 30 teens. Charges against Brittney's parents reportedly had not been ruled out.

Marcie Chambers was home during the party, but students apparently sneaked in beer, rum, malt liquor, marijuana and baggies of a white powdery substance that investigators declined to identify.

Schuerger admitted to investigators that he gave Sheffield the Ecstasy to sell at school because the couple needed money to pay bills, the affidavit said. The two live together in a Thornton apartment and are engaged to be married.

Investigators recovered 29 Ecstasy pills at the couple's apartment at 10101 Washington St. along with five baggies of marijuana and $446 Schuerger admitted came from drug sales, the document said.

First-degree murder charges can be filed if drugs sold on school grounds result in a death.

But Schuerger and Sheffield won't face murder charges because that law requires the person who died actually to buy the drug on school grounds, Epp said. Brittney didn't participate in the drug's purchase.

"I hope the legislature will take a look at it," Epp said. "Over the years we've been frustrated over the fact that there are not statutes that place a criminal responsibility on drug dealers for deaths that are caused by the drugs they sell."

Brittney took half of the Ecstasy pill about 9:15 p.m at the party and the remaining portion about 11 p.m.

After her mother found her vomiting and her eyes fully dilated, she called 911 at 1:16 a.m. on Jan. 28. Brittney was admitted to the hospital in a coma. Several others at the party were taken to the hospital for observation.

Epp said there is no evidence the pill was tainted, but samples have been sent to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for testing.

"We do understand a number of people have taken samples from the same batch without devastating results," Epp said.

Schuerger had previous arrests, including one on Nov. 10 in Denver for selling an Ecstasy pill to an undercover police officer at a party.

He was charged with selling and possessing the drug. He later pleaded guilty.

When Denver prosecutors learned Friday that Schuerger was arrested for selling the same drug again, they decided to file papers to withdraw the plea bargain and revoke his bond.
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Cop Not Guilty of Designer Drug Charges

LAS VEGAS (AP) January 24, 2001 -- A Las Vegas police officer wants his job back after being acquitted of felony drug charges.

A District Court jury in Las Vegas deliberated less than an hour Tuesday before deciding that Jon Aaron Brown wasn't guilty of taking the club drug Ecstasy and the date rape drug G-H-B in May 1999.

Trial began Monday. The 33-year-old officer was facing 19 years in prison after he and a friend, topless dancer and UNLV student Lydia Frances Gorzoch, were charged with trafficking in a controlled substance and being under the influence of a controlled substance.

Brown has been on administrative leave with pay since his arrest.

Defense attorney Kevin Kelly said the speed with which the jury reached a verdict ``sent a signal that this case should never have reached the District Court level.''

He said Brown should be returned to duty immediately.

Gorzoch, 28, also was charged with manufacturing a controlled substance. She could have received a life sentence if convicted, but pleaded guilty to a reduced charge and agreed to testify against Brown. She is due to be sentenced Feb. 1.

Gorzoch told the jury on Monday that she manufactured GHB, gamma hydroxybutyric acid, and split a pill of the hallucinogen Ecstasy with Brown after a night of partying with friends at the VooDoo Lounge at the Rio hotel-casino.

Gorzoch said she dialed 911 when Brown became unconscious. Jurors were told that paramedics revived the officer three times.

Brown said he didn't know how the drugs ended up in his system.

Brown has been a Las Vegas police officer since 1994. He earned a bachelor's degree in political science at UNLV while awaiting trial and said he hopes to attend law school.

 
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Company Develops Hair Test for Ecstasy

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Jan. 22, 2001 /PRNewswire/ -- Psychemedics Corporation President Raymond C. Kubacki anounced Psychemedics scientists after only four months of research the Company was able to bring to market a hair test for the drug Ecstasy.

Psychemedics was the first to receive FDA clearance for its hair test. Mr. Kubacki stated hair testing was used, in place of urinalysis, at the 1,800+ Psychemedics corporate client companies, because of the economics. Psychemedics patented hair test has detection rates up to 10 times more than urinalysis, a company can save substantial money by preventing drug abusers from entering the workplace. Costs to a company attributable to drug-using employees are steep and, with the Psychemedics higher detection rate, the expense of hair testing is quickly returned.

Psychemedics is the world's largest provider of hair testing for drugs of abuse with over 1,800 corporations relying on the patented Psychemedics drug testing services. Among Psychemedics' clients are many companies in the Fortune 500, the six largest police departments in America and five Federal Reserve Banks.

 
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Police rip Ecstasy herbal cigarettes

ROSELLE, IL (Daily Herald) January 22, 2001 -- They taste and smell like marijuana. There is even a picture of a cannabis leaf on the package.

But Ecstacy-brand Cannabis Free cigarettes are, as their name claims, cannabis-free. They don't have marijuana in them, nor do they contain nicotine or tobacco. They are herbal cigarettes.

So why, then, is the word "cannabis" even included in the name of the product?

That's exactly what Roselle school and police officials want to know. They're outraged the cigarettes are sold in town and fear the product glorifies drug use.

Detective Richard Hoffman, the new police consultant at Lake Park High School East Campus, first heard about the cigarettes from a mother who works at Lincoln Academy, an alternative school in Roselle.

She told him a couple of area stores had begun selling Cannabis Free and Ecstacy cigarettes, products distributed by the Temple of Ecstacy Corp. in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Although it is illegal to sell these cigarettes to minors, Hoffman and his colleague, Detective Tony Klotka - another DARE officer - say teenagers find ways to buy them.

They're concerned that if young people are caught with the cigarettes, they will use the excuse that they don't contain any tobacco or marijuana.

"That's the cop-out for kids," Hoffman said.

Klotka said some youngsters might buy the product, thinking they're getting real drugs.

Temple of Ecstacy President Benjamin Bright said both Ecstacy and Cannabis Free cigarettes contain only five exotic herbs - damiana, wild lettuce, catnip, passion flower and mint.

He said the name "Cannabis Free" is not meant to mislead users into thinking they are smoking marijuana.

"It's more of a joke," he said. "It was just for fun, in the beginning."

Police in other DuPage County communities such as Naperville and Lombard say they have never heard of nor had a problem with the Temple of Ecstacy Corp.'s products.

But Hoffman and Klotka aren't laughing.

"They're making big bucks off this," Klotka said. "I think it's disgusting that they would be selling these things to our kids and deceiving them into thinking they were doing these drugs."

Yet, despite the police officers' concerns, J&Z Sales owner Michael Caruso doesn't think teen-agers even know about the cigarettes.

The Roselle store has stocked the products for three months, and they've been sitting virtually untouched on the shelf.

"Nobody buys them," Caruso said. "It's got my money tied up. I want to give them back to the girl who sold them to me."

He said he has only sold four cartons of Cannabis Free cigarettes so far, and two of those four customers bought the cigarettes so they could fool their co-workers into thinking they were smoking marijuana.

Several Lake Park students interviewed Friday said they had never heard of the cigarettes and didn't think teens would buy them.

"They wouldn't lure me in," said Dana Bele, 17, a student at the school's west campus.Melissa Stenzel, 16, a student at the east campus, said that despite the product's label, she would worry the cigarettes contained something harmful.

"If I saw something like that in the store, I wouldn't trust them," she said.

However, Stenzel said certain groups of kids might think the cigarettes are cool.

Caruso said he doubts herbal cigarettes are a status symbol among kids who smoke.

"I think Marlboro is more of a status symbol," he said.

Last spring, the state General Assembly passed a law banning bidis, tiny herbal Indian cigarettes that look like marijuana joints and taste and smell like candy. The much publicized legislation went into effect this month.

Hoffman, Klotka and Lake Park East Campus Principal Ed Wardzala want to make sure Roselle parents are aware of Ecstacy's products as well.

"I don't see the naming of these products as some harmless joke," Wardzala said. "It's reinforcing drug usage."

Hoffman said he plans to make area middle school principals and PTOs aware of the cigarettes, so they can let parents know about these potential dangers for their children.

"I don't want these to end up in the hands of kids," he said.

Wardzala said he would like to see Cannabis Free and Ecstacy cigarettes leave Roselle stores for good.

"These cigarettes are capitalism at its worst," he said.

 


Sipping Solvents for Fun

Study Examines Health Effects of Alcohol Substitute 1,4-Butanediol

By Ephrat Livni

N E W Y O R K, (ABC News) Jan. 10 , 2001 — Sipping industrial solvents may not be everyone's idea of a good time, but apparently the practice is on the rise, as a calorie-and-hangover-free-alcohol substitute gains favor at parties around the country.

When ingested, 1,4 Butanediol — the solvent in question — converts in the central nervous system into its chemical cousin, y-hydroxybutyrate, more commonly known as the date-rape drug, GHB.

But while substances such as GHB and its other precursor GBL are considered illegal substances by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, 1,4-butanediol is marketed not only as a solvent but also as a nutritional and body-building supplement, to enhance everything from sleep to sexual performance to muscle building and fat loss.

Available in products at gyms and health food and sports nutrition stores across the country, 1,4-butanediol, or BD, can also be concocted from recipes found online. The chemical is often listed on ingredient labels as tetramethylene glycol, butylene glycol or sucol-B, in products with brand names like Thunder Nectar, InnerG, Amino Flex, Rejuv+Nite, Liquid Gold, Thunder, Serenity, X-12 and N-Force.

Alarmed by the increase in emergency room visits related to BD, researchers in Minnesota, Texas and Florida set out to discover the solvent's health risks. Led by Dr. Deborah Zvosec of the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, researchers studied nine cases of toxic effects from 1,4-butanediol in eight patients reporting to their emergency departments from June through December of 1999.

"1,4-Butanediol is toxic, addictive and potentially lethal," they concluded in a study published in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. "Although the long-term effects are poorly understood, frequent use of 1,4-butanediol can result in physical and psychological addiction and potentially severe withdrawal syndromes."

Patients took the drug either recreationally to get a buzz similar to alcohol, to enhance bodybuilding or to treat depression or insomnia and ingested doses ranging from one to 20 grams. The symptoms of BD overdoses included vomiting, incontinence, combativeness, decreased consciousness, respiratory depression and death in two of the study patients.

In fact, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, there were 49 deaths associated with the use of BD from 1995 through October 1999. "Patients use [1,4-butanediol] to get high, but … the dose needed to get high is close to the toxic dose," explains Dr.Brent Morgan, a medical director at the Georgia Poison Control Center, who is not associated with the study. "Toxicity usually causes coma that can be associated with vomiting and aspiration." In other words, people pass out and choke and their own vomit.

Morgan says he has heard of several cases of adverse effects related to BD, but that it's a difficult substance to monitor because there are no lab tests for it, and many physicians are not aware of it.

While the number of fatalities is relatively low, compared to, say the estimated 4,000 people who die annually from cocaine overdoses, the concern is that BD use is flying below the radar.

Dr. Katherine Delaney, medical director of the Parkland Hospital emergency department in Dallas, Texas says she has seen a lot of BD use. "Currently we see most intoxications in young people who work out at gyms or are otherwise 'body conscious.' When you talk to them, they say they use it not because they expect muscles to develop but as a calorie-free alcohol substitute."

The problem with doing shots of BD, though, is that it's very difficult to determine the amount needed to get high. "Unlike alcohol, the 'high' that they experience is difficult to titrate [determine the concentration of the solution], so they end up unexpectedly passed out on the disco floor, or at the pool side, or worse, in the pool," Delaney says.

She says that BD-related emergencies at her hospital currently occur at a rate of approximately 20 per month, down from about 40 a month prior to a Food and Drug Administration warning about 1,4-butanediol issued in May of 1999. The agency now considers BD to be an unapproved new drug and says it has conducted seizures to prevent sales of the substance to consumers.

Nonetheless, "extensive marking continues on the Internet, and the use has increased," the researchers wrote in their study, one of the few formal efforts to examine this substance. "If you talk to 100 doctors, maybe 10 have heard about this," says study co-author Stephen W. Smith of the Hennepin County Medical Center.

BD is reportedly a tasteless substance and, like alcohol, is often mixed with juice and soda.

 
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1 TEEN DIES, 1 ILL FROM DESIGNER DRUG USE

DOWNERS GROVE, IL (Chicago Tribune) January 5, 2001-- Two apparent drug overdoses in DuPage County in the last eight days left a 16-year-old Wheaton-area boy dead and sent a 19-year-old Downers Grove woman to a hospital in respiratory distress, authorities said Thursday.

Frank M. Mondia of unincorporated Wheaton, a sophomore who played football at Wheaton North High School, was pronounced dead Dec. 28 after his family found him unresponsive in his bed. His father, FrankG. Mondia, said the teen was on medications for bipolar disorder that might have interacted with an illicit substance.

Mondia said his son spent time in a rehabilitation center last year in a struggle with addiction.

Days later, a New Year's Eve party in the Downers Grove area nearly turned tragic for a 19-year-old woman. Downers Grove police said the woman apparently overdosed on a chemical cousin of the popular designer drug GHB.

Police said paramedics responded to a house in the1800 block of Sturbridge Place about 4:15 a.m. Monday after a caller reported ayoung woman was unconscious and unresponsive.

Police Lt. Kurt Bluder said an investigation showed the woman apparently ingested too much gamma butyrolactone (GBL), which is close in chemical construction to the more widely known club drug gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB).

After spending a brief time on a respirator and inintensive care in Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, authorities said the woman was released Monday. The woman, who asked not to be identified, said she ingested the substance not knowing its effects and had learned her lesson.

"I'm not doing anything ever again," shesaid. "It's not worth it. I almost lost my life."

DuPage County sheriff's police are handling both investigations, and department spokes woman Monica Sampias said no charges havebeen filed in either case.

Mondia said his son was remembered Tuesday in services attended by dozens of the boy's school friends. The teen had been trying to separate himself from one circle of acquaintances who had led him to substance abuse in the past, Mondia said.

"I've read his diary, and he had just writtenon Dec. 18 that he was turning his life around," Mondia said. "It was like he had two sets of friends and there was this struggle for him."

Mondia said his son had begun attending Wheaton North this year and had felt at home. Mondia was hopeful his son's death would inspire those who knew him well and others to make the right decisions about drugs.

"I hope someone can be helped through what happened to Frank," Mondia said. "I know a lot of the kids from Wheaton North that we've talked to this week have taken a look at themselves and a look at what's around them after this."

The boy had arrived at the family's Gary Avenue home about midnight before his death, said Mondia, who waited up for his son who had been with friends at a restaurant. After a brief conversation, Mondiasaid, he went to sleep.

The boy could not be revived in the morning, he said.

Mondia said his boy was a well-liked teen who had agirlfriend and had enjoyed playing football.

"He was looking forward to playing varsitynext year," Mondia said. "He was the kind of kid everybody liked. He was a great son."

Authorities said a toxicology report is to bereturned to the DuPage County coroner's office within weeks.

In Downers Grove, Bluder said his department has turned over the investigation of the GBL case to sheriff's detectives.

The Downers Grove woman, a student at the College of DuPage, had ingested GBL under the street name "Verve," police said. GBL is not a controlled substance in Illinois, but experts said it can be included in criminal guidelines because it metabolizes in the body as GHB.

GHB, a depressant originally known as a substance sometimes slipped into the drinks of unsuspecting victims before sexual assaults, has grown in popularity in recent years among Chicago area youths who take it voluntarily for its alcohol-like effects. Police said Verve, the club drug Ecstasy, and cocaine were in use at the house party the woman attended.

She had returned home with friends and had fallen asleep, Bluder said. She was found unconscious and choking early Monday by her mother, a nurse. The woman said her mother performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and saved her life.

"I just had no idea what this did," she said. "I just remember waking up in the hospital."

GHB and GBL often sell at local parties for just dollars a capful, authorities have said. Both commonly take the form of a clear or yellowish, syrupy liquid, and are produced by mixing various chemicals and industrial solvents.

Nationwide, authorities have focused on GBL inrecent months because the substance is sometimes sold at health-product storesas dietary supplements and sleep aids. High doses can lead to low heart and breathing rates and coma, experts say.
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School Bus Drivers Charged in Drug Test Scam

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Two female school bus drivers have been charged with paying a kindergartner boy $5 to use his urine to pass a drug test.

Kimberly Holsapple was afraid she would fail an upcoming drug test becauseshe had recently used marijuana, so she and Tanya Humberg hatched the scheme touse the 5-year-old's urine, Detective James Miller said.

They selected a child and paid him $5 to take a plastic cup into the schoolbathroom, urinate into it and return it to them, Miller said. The two told theboy to keep it a secret.

''This is about as low as I've ever stooped,'' Holsapple said. ''I just hopethe boy can recover.''

The bus is equipped with video and audio tape systems and the two latertalked about how to keep the urine warm before the test.

The student told his parents, and they immediately contacted Albany CitySchool District officials who called police.

Miller said both drivers were fired.

They were charged with endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor.

 
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Kava Tea May Impair Drivers

HONOLULU (AP) Jan. 1, 2001 -- There are no waiters or waitresses at Hale Noa, a quiet cafe northeast of Waikiki where an elixir known as awa is the only brew served.

Owner Keoni Verity makes patrons belly up to the bar for bowls of the earthy-tasting South Pacific drink. That way, he can see if they're still walking straight after their third, fourth or fifth refill.

``If they sit at a table and order many drinks without ever getting up, they sometimes don't realize how the awa is affecting them,'' Verity said.

The herbal root, also called kava outside Hawaii, is billed as a natural treatment for anxiety and insomnia. But some prosecutors think it may be too relaxing - they're concerned about people driving after drinking it.

``I have no concern at all if people are sitting in a bar or a cafe and consuming kava to their hearts' content as long as they don't place other people at risk by getting behind the wheel of a car,'' said Jim Fox, the district attorney in California's San Mateo County.

There, Fox's office prosecuted a man accused of drinking 23 cups of kava tea before driving, then weaving onto a highway shoulder. In December, a judge threw out the DUI case, citing lack of evidence about the tea's effects.

A similar case against a kava tea drinker from San Bruno ended in a mistrial in October after the jury deadlocked.

Kava tea has long been used in South Pacific cultural and religious ceremonies. Known as a natural alternative to muscle relaxants and anti-anxiety medicine, it's lately been growing in popularity along with other herbal supplements. And in Hawaii, awa use is seen as part of a movement to revive native Hawaiian traditions.

Kava has varying degrees of potency, and the tea is the biggest concern. Kava tea is generally much more sedating than pills, Fox said. And Verity said a cup of kava tea at his bar is about four times more potent than a typical store-bought kava tea bag.

``Awa in general relaxes and soothes and creates a mild sense of euphoria and expansion, and you can kind of see that in the way people slow down a little bit both in their movement and their speech,'' Verity said. ``People just generally get more mellow.''

Kava does have a sedating effect, especially in the raw form, and can affect drivers in ways similar to liquor, said Keith Kamita, administrator of Hawaii's Narcotics Enforcement Division.

Hawaii law doesn't explicitly ban driving while under the influence of kava, Honolulu Deputy Prosecutor David Sandler said.

In most states, it is illegal to drive under the influence of any intoxicating substance, Sandler said. California is one of them; Hawaii is not.

``If you abuse kava, it's the same thing as abusing alcohol,'' he said. ``The difference is in Hawaii we can't prosecute it.''

Sandler said he didn't know of any specific cases of drivers getting into trouble after drinking kava. But he said it's hard to measure the kava problem because police don't test for the tea when pulling over drivers.

Verity said the problem can be solved with public education and sound policies at kava-serving establishments. He said he does not serve anyone under age 20 and asks customers if they plan to drive.

``One of the first things we do is caution against driving,'' he said.

Fox said he has endured a fair amount of ribbing for going after kava drinkers for DUI, but he believes the law is on his side.

``Unfortunately, it may require that somebody's actually killed before people become aware of the dangers of it, and that would be a tragedy,'' he said.

 
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PMA Death Leads To Manslaughter Charge

WHEATON, IL (Chicago Sun-Times) December 20, 2000 -- A 21-year-old Naperville man now faces a new charge that he slipped a powerful club drug into the drink of an 18-year-old woman who died of an overdose.

Garrett Harth was indicted Tuesday on a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the May 14 death of his friend Sara Aeschlimann of Naperville. Harth already had faced felony drug possession charges as a result of Aeschlimann's death at his home.

Aeschlimann, a senior at Naperville Central High School, died of an overdose of Paramethhoxyamphetamine, or PMA, a hallucinogen that's similar to the popular club drug Ecstasy but far more powerful.

Autopsy results showed the Naperville teenager ingested about six times as much of the drug as is usually lethal. Police officers who testified at the inquest into her death said it appeared Aeschlimann didn't realize she was taking PMA and not Ecstasy.

DuPage County prosecutors would say little Tuesday about the new charge against Harth, other than that it is "appropriate," given information that has surfaced in the months since Aeschlimann's death.

"I think it's appropriate to hold him accountable," DuPage County State's Attorney Joseph Birkett said. "Her death is directly attributable to the drugs allegedly delivered by Harth."

Harth's attorney, Daniel Collins, though, blasted prosecutors for filing the new charge. Collins said it's based on bogus information from two informants who were locked up with Harth in the DuPage County Jail. The informants reportedly told prosecutors Harth said he had put several PMA tablets into a glass of water that he gave Aeschlimann in hopes of persuading her to have sex with him.

"We adamantly deny that," said Collins. "No one put anything in that girl's hand. No one did anything underhanded."

Birkett said Harth was responsible for Aeschlimann's death, regardless of "whether Sara knew what she was taking, or how much she was taking."

Harth could be sentenced to two to five years in prison if convicted of manslaughter. He is awaiting sentencing on an unrelated drug delivery conviction that could land him behind bars for up to 15 years.

The drug possession charges he still face in Aeschlimann's death carry a possible two- to five-year prison term.
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Plane Passengers Sickened by Drug Fumes

NEW YORK (AP) December 20, 2000 -- An overnight flight became more than the usual ``red eye'' when acrid fumes from a passenger's handbag sickened several people and led to its owner's arrest for possession of illegal narcotics.

The American Airlines flight was halfway from Los Angeles to New York early Sunday when the odor wafted through the cabin, causing coughing and burning eyes, said Alan Hicks, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Flight attendants traced the smell to a piece of carry-on luggage which contained two bottles, one of them broken and leaking a foul-smelling liquid, which was flushed down a toilet.

The other bottle contained an amber-colored liquid that the bag's owner claimed was whiskey. A police test later determined it contained liquid cocaine, Hicks said.

Residue from the broken bottle, which the passenger told authorities was a home remedy, was also being tested.

The passenger was being held on charges of possession of a controlled substance, reckless endangerment and conspiracy, Hicks said. Two crew members and a passenger were treated by medical workers after the flight landed.
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Drug Battle Grows More Regional

WASHINGTON (AP) - With cocaine use waning, authorities waged the war on drugs this year with strategies tailored to the regional battlegrounds: Marijuana in the Appalachian states, methamphetamine in the Rocky Mountains, cocaine in South Florida.

``There is no longer any one drug that consumes America as cocaine did in the 1980s,'' said Barry McCaffrey, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

``We need to be ready to defend against emerging threats of a wide variety by region, as well as increasingly sophisticated changes in the operations of drug traffickers,'' he said.

McCaffrey's prepared remarks accompanied his annual report on drug threats and strategies, to be released Tuesday.It outlines the government's war on drugs in 26 ``High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas,'' where drug manufacturing and sales flourish and where federal, state and local law enforcement agencies cooperate. HIDTA spent more than $191 million in fiscal year 2000, up from nearly $187 million the previous year.

McCaffrey reported that the cooperating agencies destroyed $787 million worth of marijuana in Kentucky last year, a value greater than the state's tobacco crop. Authorities eradicated another $700 million in Tennessee and West Virginia.

They also battled against ``a general judicial sentiment within some of the state judicial circuits that trafficking marijuana was a less serious offense than trafficking other substances.

''Marijuana is also the most prevalent illegal drug in the Atlanta area, but cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin are also widespread, the report said.Heroin is the principal problem in central Florida, though the region is also favored by drug traffickers because of its air, land and sea transportation networks. Hawaii, Houston, Los Angeles New York and the Gulf Coast are other hot spots for drug smugglers.

The New England states are seeing ``unprecedented'' increases in heroin-related deaths and overdoses, according to the report.

The central California valleys are favorite locations for methamphetamine labs, which are proliferating at an ``alarming'' rate, the report warns. The region's two international airports, hundreds of private airstrips and interstate highways make it a clearinghouse for movement of all types of drugs.

Chicago, meanwhile, remains another ``major distribution hub of narcotics and other controlled substances for the entire heartland of the United States.

''Mexican, Colombian and Nigerian drug cartels distribute drugs throughout the city and the entire Midwest. Ecstasy and other ``club drugs'' are growing in popularity among suburban residents.In the Northwest, heroin, marijuana and cocaine are growing threats, and methamphetamine labs are proliferating throughout the region, according to the report. Smuggling at the U.S.-Canadian border is on the rise.

While the use of crack and powder cocaine is declining nationwide, it remains the No. 1 problem in the Ohio region. Moreover, the report states, ``marijuana is ubiquitous in Ohio.

''McCaffrey, a retired Army general, will leave his post next month to teach national security at West Point and write books on drug policy and the Gulf War.
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China arrests Malaysian found with 40 kg of "Ice"

BEIJING (Reuters) Dec. 15, 2000 -- Chinese customs arrested a Malaysian man for attempting to smuggle 40 kg (88 lb) of the powerful stimulant known as "Ice" in the southern city of Guangzhou, state media said on Friday.

The official Xinhua news agency said it was the largest quantity of the drug -- methamphetamine hydrochlorine -- ever seized by Chinese customs.

The 40-year old man, who was about to board a flight to Hong Kong, was carrying the drug in 20 plastic bottles disguised as colour dye samples, it said.

Customs officers were alerted by the odour of the chemical and detained the man, who was not identified by Xinhua. After vaporising the solution, they found crystals of "ice."

Xinhua did not say what charges the man faced but state media have said that, according to drug laws laid down in 1997, possessing 50 grams of the stimulant is enough to warrant capital punishment.

Chinese police have targeted "ice" as their highest priority in a national anti-drug movement, Xinhua said.

Five men were executed in southwestern Yunnan province for trafficking "ice" last month. Yunnan has long been a major centre for drug traffickers because it borders the notorious Golden Triangle drug-producing area of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand.

But Guangzhou has become a major consumer and thoroughfare for narcotics in recent years due to its own economic affluence and proximity to Hong Kong.

In a separate case, police in Shanghai arrested five drug dealers recently and confiscated 2.6 kg of heroin, Xinhua said on Friday.

 
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Police Worried About Stolen Vet Drugs

RACINE, WI (WISN news) December 5, 2000 -- Police in the Racine area are worried that drugs intended for sedating and euthanizing animals could end up at the popular rave parties teenagers attend.

The threat comes after numerous burglaries at animal clinics, two in Racine, Wis., one in Burlington, Wis. and one in Mount Pleasant.

One of the stolen drugs is called Ketamine, used for sedation of animals prior to euthanasia.

Police said that drug dealers transform it into a street drug called Special K. It can lead to convulsions, seizures, respiratory failure and stoppage of the heart.

Mount Pleasant police hope to stop the stolen drugs from ever hitting the streets after someone recently ripped off dozens of bottles from the Countryside Humane Society.

Countryside by law can only order so much of the drug each year. "We're going to have to bring our animals to vets and we're going to have to cover the cost," Lenny Rodriguez, of the Countryside Humane Society, said. "Like I said, it'll probably get a little pricey, a little expensive, but that's something we're here for so we have to do that."

The thieves also stole some other drugs used on animals at the humane society. "If you mix them together, that could kill a human with just a little bit," Rodriguez said.

"That could knock you out, slow down your respiratory rate, heart rate. You got to know what you're doing."

One of the stolen drugs is called fatal plus. It is used to euthanize animals. Besides the four break-ins, police are also checking out three other attempted burglaries just in the last month.

There are no suspects at this time.

 
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'Party drug' wears disguise as a cleaner

HUNSTVILLE, AL (The Huntsville Times) December 1, 2000 -- Would someone drink an industrial strength floor cleaner to get a buzz?

Absolutely, says Sgt. Jim Winn of the Huntsville Police Department's Organized Crime Unit.

Products once marketed as nutritional supplements are sold as various types of cleaners. It's just one of the many ways people try to avoid federal laws that ban products like gamma-hydroxybutyrate, better known as GHB.

Investigators suspect a related chemical,GBL, sold as a cleaning solvent, played a role in the death of Elizabeth Sharp, 25, after she visited the Powerhouse Gym at Hampton Cove Tuesday night. Investigators believe Sharp may have purchased a drink there before she died.

Officers checking the gym seized about 30 quart bottles of what they believe is gamma butyrolactone or GBL, which converts to GHB in the body.

An autopsy has been done, said investigator Bill Payne, but it will be several months before toxicology tests will be completed to determine whether an illegal substance contributed to her death.

The results will be delayed by a backlog of evidence awaiting testing in the labs of the state Department of Forensic Sciences. Voters in November approved plans to borrow $17.5 million to expand the labs, buy new equipment and make other improvements.

Local law enforcement officials believe at least other three deaths in Madison County within the past two years were connected to GHB.

Most of the bottles seized at Powerhouse contained a liquid substance with a yellowish tint. A few had a red, pink or blue tint. One was labeled "Verve."

GHB is a party drug known by many names. It is odorless with a salty taste. It is usually clear, red or blue. Teens and young adults use GHB for euphoria-inducing effects, but the results can be unpredictable. A small dose can get someone high, but slightly more can lead to dizziness, coma or death.

It is often called a date-rape drug.

''GHB is a very potent unapproved drug,'' the Food and Drug Administration said in a January 1999 warning about products containing GHB or GBL.

How does such a drug gain popularity?

Word of mouth or the Internet. Winn said users in tight-knit groups ''know'' where to find alternatives to alcohol. That often makes it hard for officers to make arrests.

Information about GHB and GBL, and ads touting the drugs or substitutes, can be found on the Internet.

Some Web sites offer products containing GHB or one of its primary chemicals like GBL and promote them as providing various benefits. One Web site tells visitors ''Check out our latest GHB, Revivarant, Blue Nitro, Renewtrient, Gamma G, Regenerize Product.''

Sites claim benefits ranging from psychological to physical health to sexual function. One contends that the drug is half-price via Internet orders.

An anti-GHB Web site - www.ashesonthesea.com/ghb - provides a variety of information about the illegal substance. People can learn the basics of GHB and related drugs, read about laws regarding the illegal substance, and learn from other people's tragedies and experiences.

Often touted as a harmless way to get a buzz, GHB has names like Scoop, Somatomax and Goop, and is also commonly called ''Juicin'.''

Usually it costs about $5 a capful - enough for a one- to four-hour high. Experts say the problem is, nobody knows what's a safe amount to take because it affects people differently. A capful might not be enough to give one person a buzz. But it might kill someone else.

Federal law says anyone who distributes GBL must be registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. In some forms, it is used as a powerful floor cleaner. It is a violation of federal law to sell it as an ingestible product, Winn said.Investigators planned to have the bottles seized from the Powerhouse Gym, which they believe were sold for $95 each, tested today to determine whether they contain GBL. Michael Wayne Robbins, the gym owner, was not available for comment.
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Ecstasy Use Up Among Teens

NEW YORK (AP) November 27, 2000 -- Teen-age marijuana use has dropped for a third straight year, but a jump in the use of the ``club drug'' ecstasy raised new concerns for parents, according to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America's annual report.

The nonprofit group's 13th survey, being released Monday, questioned 7,290 students in seventh through 12th grades nationwide. The margin of error is plus or minus 1.5 percentage points.

Use of ecstasy, a favorite at dance clubs and all-night raves, has doubled among teens since 1995, the survey found. One in 10 teens has experimented with the drug, it said.

The report found the number of teens who have tried ecstasy at least once had increased from 7 percent to 10 percent over the past year. In contrast, the 40 percent of teens saying they had tried marijuana was down from 41 percent last year.

It was the third consecutive drop-off in teen marijuana use since 1997, when 44 percent of teens said they had used the drug at least once.

``We appear to be turning a very important corner,'' said Richard D. Bonnette, the partnership's president and chief executive officer. ``But as we turn one corner, troubling developments are coming at us from other directions - specifically with ecstasy.''

The survey found that more teens were turned off than on by marijuana. Fifty-four percent felt smoking pot would make them behave foolishly, up from 51 percent in 1997. Fewer believe most people will try marijuana: 36 percent now, compared with 41 percent in 1997. And just 21 percent said they had used marijuana in the past month, down from 24 percent in 1997.

Those numbers are significant because they address attitude changes since the partnership, along with the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy, started a national anti-drug ad campaign in July 1998.

``This study confirms the trends we've seen over the last three years - a steady decline in the number of teen using drugs,'' said Barry McCaffrey, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. ``This is very good news.''

The study found that the number of teens seeing anti-drug advertising on a daily basis has jumped significantly - from 32 percent in 1998 to 49 percent this year.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, launched in 1987, is a coalition of communications industry professionals aimed at reducing the demand for illegal drugs.

 
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CITY MOVES AGAINST PRODUCTS THAT MASK DRUG USE

AURORA, IL (The Chicago Tribune) November 30, 2000 -- The Aurora City Council has condemned the sale of so-called purge products allegedly designed to thwart drug tests.

Kane County Circuit Court Judge James Doyle last week asked the council to take the action. He also is pressing state legislators to ban the marketing and sale of the products, which contain various herbs and vitamins and are sold at many health food stores.

Doyle presides over the county Drug Rehabilitation Court Program, under which defendants who complete drug or alcohol rehabilitation are able to avoid jail sentences.

As part of the program, the defendants regularly undergo drug screenings.

After hearing about the products, Doyle, police and Court Services Department personnel went undercover and found the products are sold at health food stores in Aurora, Batavia and St. Charles.

The purge products, Doyle said, prevent the detection of drugs in urine samples, although sophisticated drug testing can determine when the concoctions have been taken.

In those cases, the Court Services Department resorts to random drug tests of the defendants so they don't have time to take the products.

The resolution passed Tuesday will be distributed to retail businesses in Aurora that are likely to sell such products

 
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Gas-sniffing Innu children tell of ghastly death

BY MICHAEL MACDONALD

SHESHATSHIU, Nfld. (CP) November 23, 2000 -- Sixteen-year-old Angela Rich is sobbing quietly as she tells how her little brother died when the bag of gas he was sniffing spilled near a candle and exploded in flames.

"I want to die the same way my brother died . . . while sniffing gas," the slight girl whispers in her native language as a tear trickles down her cheek. Rich was the first of 12 gas-sniffing Innu children to be taken from their homes this week to receive treatment at a makeshift detox centre set up inside a nearby military base in central Labrador.

The girl's disturbing story is being broadcast Thursday night on CBC TV's The National.

"I can't and I won't stop sniffing gas because when I do, I can see my brother," Rich says of 11-year-old Charles, who died last April after the inside of his throat was badly burned.

"This is no way to live."

Rich and the other children and youths at the detox centre, who range in age from 10 to 18, will be watched around the clock to make sure none of them flees while enduring the cravings, hallucinations and icy chills that sometimes come with withdrawal.

In the meantime, the RCMP are still looking for several other children listed on a court warrant, which was requested last week by Innu leaders desperate to help the growing number of gas sniffers in Sheshatshiu.

Rich's brother Phillip, 13, was also named in the warrant.

A precocious boy with a quick smile, Phillip's mood quickly turns dark when asked about the night his brother died.

"First, his leg caught on fire and . . . he made a kick at his friend," the dark-haired boy says as he slumps in a chair. "The gas was spilled all over him and he went up in flames."

What happened next has left Phillip suffering from constant nightmares.

"Charles ran towards me when he was in flames . . . I, too, was sniffing gas and the fumes were very strong on me. I ran away because I was afraid I would catch on fire."

A neighbour rushed into the house, pulled the burning boy outside and doused the flames.

Now, Charles visits Phillip in his sleep.

"I dreamed we were in a graveyard and he was telling me to go to the dark end of the graveyard," Phillip says through an interpreter - his uncle Louis. "I woke up sweating."

Phillip stopped sniffing gas after his brother died. But that didn't last long.

"Shortly after Charles was buried, my father started drinking again . . . And I was mad. That's the reason I went back to sniffing again."

"I often think about . . . committing suicide. And other times, I feel if I commit suicide I will not see my younger brother again."

It remains unclear how long the Phillip and the other sniffers will remain at the detox centre at Canadian Forces Base Goose Bay, about 33 kilometres south of Sheshatshiu.

Provincial health officials say the move is just a temporary arrangement, but they have declined to speculate on what will happen next. A new team of social workers and mental health specialists was flown to the base Wednesday.

Innu leaders in Sheshatshiu say while the children are away, the many alcoholic parents in the destitute town of 1,200 must also be given help to overcome their destructive addictions.

Meanwhile, an Innu leader in northern Labrador issued a statement Wednesday saying his people in Davis Inlet are also suffering from the same problems as those in Sheshatshiu.

Chief Simeon Tshakapesh says that 35 per cent of the 169 youths in Davis Inlet are chronic substance abusers who desperately need help. About 600 people live in the grim, island community.

Tshakapesh is demanding a long-term, federally sponsored "healing process" for the town's youth.

"The community is still in a state of crisis after following government recommendations for the past eight years," Tshakapesh says.

In 1993, the community attracted international attention after six Innu youth were videotaped sniffing gas and screaming that they wanted to die in an unheated shack in the middle of the winter.

The uproar that followed prompted the federal government to commit to building a new community nearby on the mainland. The new, $113-million town site, called Natuashish, should be ready for occupancy as early as next summer.

© The Canadian Press, 2000

 
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Murder Trial Begins in GHB Drug Death

JOSHUA TREE, CA. (AP) Nov. 5, 2000 – An impromptu rave party in the Southern California high desert five years ago was Lucas Bielat's chance to say goodbye to friends before he moved away. But the day he was supposed to leave, the 15-year-old was found dead in the desert from an overdose of the popular designer drug GHB.

Now, the man accused of organizing the party and supplying the drug to Bielat goes on trial Monday for second-degree murder in what may be the first such case in the country. Prosecutors have charged Lindley Troy Geborde, 30, of Los Angeles, with second-degree murder for allegedly manufacturing the drug and supplying it to Bielat without warning him of its danger. He is already serving a 41-month sentence in federal prison for a 1999 conviction on charges he made and transported GHB.

"The law says if you have knowledge that a particular conduct is dangerous to human life, you engage in that conduct and that conduct results in death, then you're guilty of murder," said San Bernardino County Deputy District Attorney David W. Simon.

"Just because there hasn't been a case until now, doesn't mean it isn't murder."

Although three men in Michigan were convicted of manslaughter earlier this year in the death of a girl who drank a beverage mixed with GHB, the California case marks the first time someone is being tried for implied malice in connection with such a death.

Known to partygoers as liquid ecstasy, GHB – gamma hydroxybutyrate – is known for its intoxicating effect, which is similar to liquor without the hangover. It's also known as a date rape drug because of its ability to incapacitate people, leaving them vulnerable to sexual assault.

Once sold in health food stores as a natural food supplement, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned over-the-counter sales in 1990. President Clinton signed legislation outlawing the drug this year.

Geborde was an aspiring deejay and actor who appeared in a small role as a federal police officer in the 1997's "Conspiracy Theory," starring Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts. Defense attorney Frank Peasley says Geborde's actions did not amount to murder and the dangers of GHB have been exaggerated.

"(Geborde) used (GHB) all the time and his friends did, too," Peasley told The Desert Sun of Palm Springs.

He did not return a telephone call to the Associated Press seeking comment.

Both sides agree that on the night of Jan. 13, 1996, Bielat and at least 40 other people attended a party at Giant Rock, a huge boulder rising out of the sand 25 miles north of Joshua Tree that was made famous in the 1950s by UFO enthusiast George Van Tassel.

But they disagree about what happened at the rock.

Investigators allege Geborde, then 25, handed out plastic jugs of the drug, which he brewed out of engine degreaser, drain cleaner and water, to partygoers. Investigators suspect Geborde was the leading force in introducing the drug in Joshua Tree, a community of 8,600 people about 100 miles east of Los Angeles. Although he had allegedly warned people at previous parties before to take only two or three capfuls of the concoction, on this night Geborde said nothing, Simon said. Witnesses say Bielat chugged the drink and then passed out. Hours later, they say Bielat turned blue and his feet began to curl from the cold. That's when, according to investigators, Geborde packed up his music equipment and left.

"He made it. He knew it was dangerous. He gave it to Lucas Bielat and didn't warn him as he watched him chug it. ... When he was dying, Mr. Geborde left him there. That's implied malice," Simon said.

But other witnesses, according to transcripts from a preliminary hearing in April, say Geborde told people to be careful and that he had someone call 911.

"I remember him saying 'Don't drink too much,'" testified Crystal Clare, who also attended the party.

At the time, the autopsy was inconclusive because the crime lab lacked the equipment to test for GHB toxicity. Two years later, the Los Angeles coroner's office used a test it had developed to determine there was toxic level of GHB in Bielat's blood. On Oct. 1, 1998, Geborde was charged with second-degree murder.

Although nearly everybody agrees Bielat bears some responsibility for taking the drug, prosecutors and Bielat's family hold Geborde responsible for allegedly giving it to him.

"He was the adult," said Bielat's mother, Elli Robison. "I hope they get him off the street forever. ... He should serve a life sentence because I'm serving one without my son."

 
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ECSTASY LACED TO MEET CLUB DEMAND

BOSTON, (BOSTON GLOBE) -- September, 2000 -- Law enforcement authorities and antidrug activists are warning that new and dangerous additives are being mixed into one of the most popular drugs sold and used in the city's nightclubs.

Law enforcement officials say many makers of ecstasy, eager to cut costs and meet the demand for the euphoria-inducing drug among high school and college students, are lacing the pills with cheaper and more dangerous substances.

"You are becoming less and less likely to get what you think you're getting," said Mariellen Burns, a Boston Police Department spokeswoman.

Boston police are combating the popularity of the illegal drug by sending undercover officers into nightclubs to nab dealers. "This drug is often marketed specifically to people of that age" range, Burns said.

Of particular concern, authorities said, is the use of PMA, a chemical recently blamed for the death of an 18-year-old woman in Illinois.

When ingested, PMA causes sharp increases in body temperature. It also prevents blood from clotting and causes internal bleeding.

"You essentially bleed to death from the inside," said Emily Romano of the New England chapter of DanceSafe, a national group that promotes health and safety in nightclubs.

While no hard data are available, anecdotal evidence from police and antidrug groups suggests that ecstasy pills laced with a variety of additives are infiltrating dance clubs in Boston in growing numbers.

Besides PMA, other common additives include amphetamines, Valium, and even caffeine.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, ecstasy use increased 500 percent in the United States from 1993 to 1998. During that period, emergency room visits nationwide resulting from the use of ecstasy skyrocketed, from 68 to 1,100. Massachusetts officials said the number of samples of ecstasy pills that arrived at the state's drug analysis lab rose from 20 in 1997 to 342 last year.

In recent weeks, Romano said she has spoken to several young people who have taken what they believed to be pure ecstasy and experienced symptoms of much more harmful substitutes.

"I hear these kids talking about really terrible hallucinations and convulsions, which are not things you experience with ecstasy," Romano said. "There has been a definite scare, especially because of deaths and injuries that have happened in other parts of country."

Chris, a 20-year-old college student living in Boston, says he used to use ecstasy every weekend, but a bad experience scared him off the drug permanently. Last November at a party, he took a pill that turned out to be mostly ketamine, an anesthetic used in animal tranquilizers.

Although Chris swallowed only one pill, his friends crushed and snorted several. Like most varieties of ecstasy, the pills Chris and his friends took were stamped with a logo, in this case a green triangle.

"I just felt really bad, but they started seeing all kinds of crazy things and seriously thought they were dying," Chris said. "They were messed up for a long time, and they couldn't really sleep for like three days. That pretty much ended it for me."

Danny, a 19-year-old who lives in Miami, said, "With ecstasy, you never know what's in it, but it seems now like more and more people are ending up with bad pills." Like others interviewed for this report who said they used ecstasy, Danny spoke only on the condition that his last name not be used.

Ecstasy pills typically cost less than $1 to make but sell for between $20 and $40.

According to DanceSafe, which encourages ecstasy users to have their pills tested and posts the lab results on its Web site, green-triangle stamped pills from New York, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles have been found to contain DXM, another common additive that is found in many over-the-counter cough suppressants.

Aja, a 20-year-old from St. Louis studying at a Boston college who has been using ecstasy for almost three years, has experienced vomiting, convulsions, and uncontrollable jaw clenching after unknowingly taking ecstasy pills that contained DXM and methamphetamines.

DanceSafe, which operates testing tables inside some West Coast nightclubs, has launched a local campaign urging clubgoers to purchase kits to test ecstasy pills. While the pills can often be bought inside clubs, users often take them at home before heading out for the night. The kits cost about $25 and are available online.

Ecstasy users build a tolerance for the drug very quickly, and must often take several pills over the course of the night to maintain their high. Romano is encouraging users to take only one pill, to minimize the effects of potentially contaminated drugs.

Burns, however, said there is no such thing as responsible ecstasy use. The drug, she said, is easy to conceal, and in the darkness of a nightclub or party, anything could be passed off as ecstasy.

"These people have no idea what they are doing," Burns said. "Anyone who thinks they are safe is incredibly naive, because there are no safe ways to do these drugs."

Though ecstasy has not been proven to be physically addictive, Burns said many users become addicted to "the state of mind and the escapism."

Aja, who says she has cut back her use to every other weekend, went through a period in which she used the drug three times each week, sometimes taking as many as 15 pills a night.

"It's definitely a waste of brain cells and money, too, to be taking so many," she said. Aja has since purchased a testing kit, but admits that she doesn't always use it. Danny also tries to test most of his pills and buys them from dealers he trusts. Chris said he generally only took pills that he had seen other friends try without suffering severe side effects.

 
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Club Drug "PMA" Hits Florida

Variant of the Club Drug Ecstasy Has Killed at Least Six People in Florida Since July, Raising Victims' Temperatures So High That the Central Nervous System ``Burns Out,'' State Police Said on Friday.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) issued a statewide warning that no tests could reliably determine the presence of the highly toxic additives in pills sold as the illegal stimulant ecstasy, or MDMA.

The deaths were attributed to tablets that in addition to the usual ecstasy ingredients also contained either PMA (paramethoxyamphetamine) or PMMA (paramethoxymethamphetamine).

Both are powerful stimulants that cause the user to sweat profusely and the body temperature to soar. PMA was blamed for three deaths in the Chicago area in May, Florida police said.

``PMA/PMMA burns out the central nervous system by raising the user's body temperature to nearly 108 degrees (42 C),'' Florida police Commissioner Tim Moore said in a news release.

A 19-year-old woman who died in August after taking the drug had a temperature of 104 degrees (40 C) five hours after she died, the medical examiner said.

Ecstasy is popular at music and dance parties known as ''raves.''

 
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Judge says pot-smoking trooper can't be fired

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) 08/10/00 -- A circuit court judge Wednesday upheld the reinstatement of an Illinois State Police sergeant who had used marijuana.

The decision by Sangamon County Circuit Judge Thomas Appleton was a blow for the State Police policy of "zero tolerance."

The department tried to fire Master Sgt. Mark Atchison of Pawnee, but, in October of last year the State Police Merit Board ordered him reinstated.

Appleton concluded that the Merit Board — which hires, disciplines and fires state troopers — was not out of line in softening Atchison's penalty.

"If the Legislature had intended the director to be the sole arbiter of discipline, it would not have vested the board with that authority," the judge wrote.

Merit Board Chairman Richard Joutras of Chicago defended the decision to let Atchison keep his job, saying it does not mean the board is soft on drug use.

"The board certainly does not want anyone in the public or the agency to think that this condones the use of illegal drugs or the abuse of alcohol," Joutras said. "There is no precedent here."

The Merit Board suspended Atchison for 180 days, banned him from flying and ordered him to undergo continuing random drug tests and drug counseling.

State police officials said they are considering an appeal of the judge's ruling.

"We still believe that an officer who uses drugs should not remain an Illinois State Police officer," police spokesman Capt. Dave Sanders said.

Atchison, a pilot who was with the department 16 years when he was suspended, was at a family party in February 1999 when he came upon relatives smoking pot. Atchison later testified that, for "some stupid reason," he took the joint and puffed twice. Three days later, he failed a random drug test.

Although Sanders said the State Police always have sought to fire employees caught using drugs, Joutras said the policy is not definitive, allowing "discipline up to and including discharge."

Sanders said the agency is reviewing whether to clarify or strengthen the policy.

Atchison, who makes $66,700, has been on paid leave since his hiatus ended in November. He will return to work soon after getting updated training, Sanders said.

Reached at his home, Atchison said the board did what it is supposed to do. He said he did not know what job he might be offered.

 
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Max Factor Heir Used GHB In Rapes

VENTURA, Calif. (AP) -- An heir to the Max Factor cosmetics fortune was charged with 40 sex, drug and weapons counts for allegedly slipping date-rape drugs to three women, sexually assaulting and videotaping them.

A judge on Wednesday ordered Andrew Stuart Luster, 36, held on $10 million bail after a third woman came forward and prosecutors added 19 new counts to the 21 he already faced. Previously, bail had been set at $1 million.

''There is no question Mr. Luster is a clear and present danger to women,'' Superior Court Judge Art Gutierrez said. ''I am satisfied the defendant is a threat.''

He remained jailed Thursday.

Prosecutors have said that Luster, a great-grandson of makeup company founder Max Factor, videotaped his victims.

Among the items seized during a search of his home last week were photographs and homemade videos, plus 13 guns, including an illegal AK-47 assault rifle, several small bottles of an unknown liquid, and cocaine, authorities said.

Some of the videotapes show explicit sex and involve women who appear to be unconscious or semiconscious, sheriff's spokesman Eric Nishimoto said Thursday.

''We believe the defendant presents a very serious and credible threat,'' Deputy District Attorney Becky Day said Wednesday in court.

Day had ask the judge to have Luster held without bail, arguing that he poses a flight risk because of his family's assets. She produced a copy of a financial statement indicating that Luster has $8 million in a stock portfolio.

Defense attorney Joel Isaacson said Luster does not have access to the portfolio and earns less than $70,000 a year handling his own investments.

Luster, the father of two, has no criminal record and has lived in Ventura County for 15 years.

Though no formal plea has been entered, Luster's attorney said he ''absolutely denies the charges'' and claims sex he has had over the years with women was consensual.

Luster was arrested last week after a Santa Barbara woman claimed she slipped her a date-rape drug after she met him at a bar. The woman said she was sexually assaulted July 15 at Luster's home. Two other women came forward since then, the most recent a 27-year-old former girlfriend who said she was assaulted in 1996 or 1997.

 
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Study: Marijuana Promotes Tumor Growth

6/21/00 -- A team of researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center found that the major component of marijuana can promote tumor growth, according to a June 20 press release from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

In experiments on mice, researchers found that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major psychoactive component of marijuana, promotes tumor growth by impairing the body's immune system. The researchers found that THC limits immune response by increasing the availability of two forms of cytokine, a potent, tumor-specific, immunity suppresser.

Furthermore, researchers determined that smoking marijuana is more of a cancer risk than smoking tobacco because the tar portion of marijuana smoke contains higher concentrations of carcinogenic hydrocarbons.

"What we already know about marijuana smoke, coupled with our new finding that THC may encourage tumor growth, suggests that regular use of marijuana may increase the risk of respiratory tract cancer, and further studies will be needed to evaluate this possibility," said Dr. Steven M. Dubinett, head of the research team.

The study is published in the July 2000 issue of the Journal of Immunology.

 
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Crashed Train Operator Fails Drug Test

NEW YORK (AP) -- The operator of a train that derailed earlier in the week tested positive for cocaine, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transit Authority said Friday.

MTA spokesman Al O'Leary said it was not yet clear what role the operator's drug use might have played in the accident, which injured some 66 people riding the B train in Brooklyn late Tuesday evening.

The investigation into the accident was ongoing and no potential cause has been eliminated, O'Leary said.

The train operator, who drives the train, had tested negative for drugs on 10 prior occasions dating back to 1991, according to the MTA.

The operator has been suspended and notified that the MTA will seek dismissal.

The train's conductor, who opens and closes doors and makes station announcements, tested negative for drug use.

Officials have said the derailment may have been caused by problems with a switching mechanism that failed as the train changed tracks.

The subway was leaving a station in Brooklyn when the wheels of the third car skipped off the track, sending riders sprawling when the brakes automatically engaged.

The derailment caused the train's first three cars to become separated from the rest of the eight-car train.

 
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GHB Drug rape draws 57-month Fed. sentence

CARBONDALE, IL (Chicago Sun-Times) June 25, 2000 -- The young woman, a college freshman, was raped twice by a man who drugged her with GHB, a hallucinogen.

They faced each other in federal court on Friday. His voice quivering, his face beet red, 24-year-old John Keith Dilg admitted to sexually assaulting the freshman at Southern Illinois University.

The unidentified young woman, known in court as Jane Doe, listened as prosecutors described the rapes. Dilg has not been charged with rape, but his confessions helped send him away for 57 months--nearly 5 years--on drug charges. He is the first person prosecuted federally in Chicago for manufacturing massive quantities of GHB.

"This is the reason why we believe these crimes were so egregious," said Barbara Wells, a federal prosecutor.

Dilg manufactured more than 240 gallons of GHB in his parents' home in Elk Grove Village and his apartment in Carbondale, where he attended SIU from 1997 to 1998. He was selling the drug for $200 to $300 a gallon, authorities said.

One teaspoon of GHB can put a person under. Known in clubs and on the street as Liquid X, Liquid G or G-Riffic, gamma hydroxy butyrate can cause unconsciousness, seizures, hallucinations or death.

Federal Judge Elaine Bucklo sentenced Dilg to 57 months in prison for conspiracy, operating an unregistered drug-manufacturing facility and dispensing a mislabeled drug.

Bulko approved an increased sentence after Dilg admitted raping the same woman twice. Without that admission, Dilg would have received a maximum of 2 years.

Dilg would have faced a harsher sentence of up to 135 months in prison now that GHB is classified as a controlled substance, similar to cocaine or heroin, Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Levine said.

Dilg still could face sexual assault charges under state law.

Jane Doe listened closely as prosecutors recounted the details of the rapes. She sniffled and dabbed tears away, her shoulders at times shaking.

She didn't know him, the prosecutor said. She didn't even know his name. But one night during her first semester in college, she went with some friends to Dilg's apartment.

Dilg slipped a dose of GHB into her cocktail, just a teaspoon, but it could have killed her. Dilg knew that, prosecutors said, because she was "comatose" and placed on a ventilator in October 1996 after overdosing on GHB.

The woman woke up the next morning on Dilg's couch, embarrassed that she had passed out in the apartment of an upperclassman.

She had no idea Dilg carried her into his basement bedroom and raped her. She had no idea he dressed her again and put her on the couch. She had no idea because GHB, which knocked her out, causes amnesia.

When she ran into Dilg again on another night, she apologized for inconveniencing him.

He was nice, she told prosecutors, so when he invited her again to his apartment, she went unsuspectingly.

After smoking marijuana together, Dilg gave her another drink laced with GHB. As she was sipping on her cocktail, prosecutors said, he told her, "It's a shame you don't remember what happened last time because we had great sex." He also told her that her drink was laced with GHB.

She fought to stay conscious. She told him it wasn't right to drug people.

But he raped her again while she was unconscious.

She woke up the next morning in his bedroom. Her clothes were tangled up with his on the bedroom floor. She gingerly tried to get dressed without waking him up.

Humiliated as she was, she told the police in Carbondale what happened. That was in October 1997, prosecutors said.

In court, Dilg read softly from a statement. "The first thing I want to do is apologize to the person I hurt," said Dilg. "I have pleaded guilty because I know in my heart what I've done is wrong and I take responsibility for my actions."

 
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Surge in Campus Alcohol Arrests

June 4, 2000 (AP) -- Alcohol-related arrests on college campuses surged 24.3 percent in 1998, the largest jump in seven years, according to a survey by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Law enforcement officials and crime experts attributed the increase to more heavy drinking among college students coupled with better reporting and tougher enforcement.

"Alcohol abuse is the No. 1 problem on every college campus in this country, and I don't care how big they are or how small they are," said police Capt. Dale Burke of the University of Wisconsin.

The university's 39,700-student Madison campus reported the most liquor law violations - 792 - of any of the 481 four-year institutions surveyed.

The report, released Sunday, showed an 11 percent increase in college campus arrests for drug violations and an 11.3 percent increase in arrests for forcible sex offenses, as well as smaller increases in arrests for weapons violations, assault, arson and hate crimes.

Doug Tuttle, a policy scientist and past public safety director at the University of Delaware, warned against reading too much into the statistics. He noted that while the numbers are required to be published in some form under federal law, the Department of Education will not begin uniform reporting until this fall.

Liquor law arrests, for example, are supposed to include citations. But in the past, some universities reported only instances in which a person was taken into custody, Tuttle said. Now that more schools understand the definition, the number of reported arrests may rise, he said.

Tuttle also pointed to increased enforcement as a possible explanation for the jump.

"I think more institutions are seeing the courts as a way of dealing with these problems," he said.

But other experts noted that while enforcement is up, so are reports of hard-core drinking by college students.

A survey released this year by the Harvard School of Public Health found 22.7 percent of the college student population reported frequent binge drinking in 1999, up from 19.8 percent in 1993 and 20.9 percent in 1997. The survey included 14,000 students at 119 colleges.

A frequent binge drinker was defined as a man who drank at least five drinks in a row, or a woman who drank four, at least three or more times in the two weeks before the survey.

Henry Wechsler, a social psychologist and Harvard researcher who led the study, said that until the past decade, alcohol abuse was the "little secret" of colleges.

"Colleges do have traditions where drinking is part of their culture, and that needs to be changed," Wechsler said.

Capt. Tony Kleibecker of the Michigan State University Police and Burke of the University of Wisconsin said many alcohol arrests come after football games or special events such as concerts.

Michigan State, with 42,600 students, ranked second in the survey in 1998 alcohol arrests with 655, and first in weapons violations with 49. Thirty of the weapons arrests were misdemeanors involving small knives or clubs, Kleibecker said.

According to the survey, the University of California at Berkeley was second in weapons violations with 34 on a campus of 30,300 students, followed by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with 26 on its 16,500-student campus, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with 23 on its 12,530-student campus.

Berkeley also led the survey's list in drug arrests with 280, followed by Rutgers University at New Brunswick with 138 on a campus of 34,420; North Carolina at Greensboro with 132; and the University of Arizona with 123 a campus of 33,740.

Lt. Adan Tejada of the UC Berkeley police force said the numbers reflect the fact that Berkeley is in the middle of a city and a block away from People's Park, the famously freewheeling area that has long attracted drug users.

"The vast majority of these things are happening south of campus," Tejada said. "We're not talking about central campus incidents."

The survey found 20 murders and one manslaughter case reported in 1998, compared with 18 murders and two manslaughter cases in 1997.

Reports of robbery, burglary and motor vehicle theft declined from 1997 to 1998.

After the University of Wisconsin at Madison and Michigan State University, the schools listed in the survey with the highest numbers of alcohol arrests in 1998 were the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with 606 on a campus of 45,400; Western Michigan University with 405 on a campus of 26,130; and Berkeley with 382.

Alcohol often plays a role in the other crimes, particularly sex offenses, said Nancy Schulte, coordinator of drug education services at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

As a result, she said, colleges are beefing up alcohol and drug awareness programs. They need to be asking themselves, "How am I vulnerable?" she said.

 
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3RD DEATH TIED TO LOOK-ALIKE DRUG

ECSTASY SUBSTITUTE "PMA" FOUND IN VICTIM'S HOME

Chicago Tribune June 1, 2000, -- As state lawmakers moved to toughen penalties for sellers of Ecstasy and other club drugs, police and prosecutors disclosed Wednesday that the recent death of a 20-year-old Lisle man may be tied to the same Ecstasy look-alike substance that killed an 18-year-old Naperville woman and a McHenry teen last month.

Sources close to the investigation into the possible overdose Saturday of Jason Burnett, said pills have been recovered matching the description of those blamed for the deaths of Sara Aeschlimann May 14 and Steve Lorenz, 17, a week earlier. The pills, known on the street as "Double-stack White Mitsubishi," are often sold as Ecstasy, but actually contain paramethoxymethamphetamine, or PMA, a much more dangerous and potent hallucinogen.

The white pills are stamped with three diamonds in the pattern of the corporate logo of the Mitsubishi company. Joe Ruggiero, supervisor of the narcotics unit in the DuPage County state's attorney's office, said pills recovered from Burnett's home in the 1900 block of Maple Avenue carry the "Mitsubishi" stamp, and have tested positive for PMA.

"They do contain PMA, and they have the exact same stamp," Ruggiero said. "That's pretty unique."

Paramedics responded to the home of one of Burnett's friends Saturday afternoon in the 1000 block of Rolling Drive, and found Burnett unresponsive. He was transported to Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, but was pronounced dead shortly after 2:30 p.m.

Authorities said further testing will confirm whether Burnett died after ingesting too much PMA. An autopsy performed over the weekend was inconclusive.

Lisle police have indicated they are investigating the matter as a drug-related incident. They don't expect the results of toxicological testing for at least two weeks.

House Republican Leader Lee Daniels (R-Elmhurst) and state Rep. Tom Cross (R-Oswego), along with DuPage County State's Atty. Joseph Birkett, met at Daniels' Elmhurst offices Wednesday to announce a push toward tougher penalties for dealing in Ecstasy and PMA.

Local law enforcement has grown increasingly concerned as Ecstasy tablets, which contain the active ingredient methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), and its club-drug cousins have flooded the Chicago region in recent months.

Birkett has been among those calling for tougher laws to help stem the tide. Just a few years ago Ecstasy cases were rare in DuPage, he said, but that is no longer true.

"Now [Ecstasy is the focus of] a substantial portion of our daily work," Birkett said. "Right now, we have more than 30 cases pending that deal with the delivery and possession of Ecstasy."

Local authorities have said dealers, who face little threat of facing serious jail time, are supplying the drug. It currently takes the sale of more than 200 grams of MDMA or PMA--an amount equal to roughly 900 pills--to push a case to Class X felony status, a classification that earns an automatic prison sentence of 6 years.

The Daniels and Cross proposal would bring the Class X amount of Ecstasy or PMA down to 15 doses, roughly the same standard now in place for the sale of LSD.

Also proposed Wednesday was a lowering of the amount of Ecstasy or PMA that needs to be sold before a dealer could be charged with drug-induced homicide. The current amount is 50 grams, a standard that would be lowered to any amount that leads to a fatality.

Birkett said he and Ruggiero had looked at making such a proposal as early as April, but the recent deaths have led to a much stronger push. Those involved in the Aeschlimann investigation have said the limits now in place could leave a dealer accused of selling the pills that killed the girl facing only distribution charges, a probationable offense.

Daniels said that is not good enough.

"These dealers are getting rich by encouraging our kids to buy Ecstasy," he said.

Also announced Wednesday is a proposal that would let law enforcement stay ahead of the curve when it comes to new variations of club drugs that hit the streets. Birkett said savvy makers of illicit drugs often change their formulas to avoid prosecution under specific laws.

The proposed legislation would allow the Illinois Department of Public Health to quickly place new versions of drugs into the Class X range without special dispensation from the General Assembly. The mechanics of that plan remain in development, lawmakers said.

Daniels said he expects bipartisan support for the new measures, and said he will put together summer meetings on the plans to allow the legislature to act swiftly once the fall session begins.

Representatives of the U.S. Customs Service have reported that the flow of Ecstasy into the Chicago area through O'Hare International Airport has grown exponentially since late last year. More than 150,000 tablets have been recovered in seizures at the airport during the past six months, authorities said, most of the drugs manufactured in secret European labs.

In 1997, the service seized 400,000 MDMA pills nationwide, a figure that already has topped 5.5 million during the first several months of 2000.

In the wake of the local deaths, law enforcement officials are scrambling to spread the word about the danger.

Naperville Police Sgt. Ray McGury said his department will hold an open meeting for law enforcement representatives Thursday morning where information on Ecstasy and PMA would be shared. McGury said word that the Burnett death may be linked to PMA would raise the sense of urgency at the meeting even higher.

"Apparently, we're looking at a huge batch of this stuff that has come into the area," McGury said.

The Chicago office of the Drug Enforcement Administration has organized a meeting on Ecstasy Thursday as well. Mike Hillebrand of the office said the organization will host police, area school officials and others for a presentation from expert sources on the drug.

Drug experts have said the hallucinogen PMA mirrors Ecstasy's stimulant qualities, but is much stronger.

The drug has been known to quickly raise body temperature and push the heart rates of users into dangerous territory. The substance is especially dangerous when the person taking it thinks the substance is Ecstasy, experts said. A typical dose of Ecstasy can be lethal when the tablets actually contain PMA.

 
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Drug Smugglers Hide Stash in Girl's Corpse

DUBAI (Reuters) Wednesday May 10, 2000 8:01 AM ET - Drug smugglers stuffed their stash in the corpse of a young girl whom they had apparently killed, in a foiled attempt to bring narcotics into the Gulf Arab region, a senior UAE policeman was quoted Tuesday as saying.

The Gulf News quoted Abdul Rahman Naser al-Fardan, head of the police drug squad in Sharjah, one of the seven emirates in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, as saying a woman carrying the dead girl was arrested on arrival at the unnamed Gulf state.

An airport official became suspicious when he tried to play with the apparently sleeping child, Fardan said. He said the girl had been kidnapped and murdered so that the smugglers could fill her body with codeine, an addictive painkiller not freely available in the Gulf.

The Gulf lies along traditional drug smuggling routes from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Europe. Officials say drug traffickers use the region's long coastlines as a transit point.

 
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Saudi executes man for drug smuggling

DUBAI, (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia on Monday executed a Pakistani man convicted of smuggling heroin into the kingdom, bringing to at least 11 the number of people put to death in the conservative country this month.

An Interior Ministry statement, carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, said the Pakistani man was executed in the capital Riyadh after he was found guilty of smuggling charges.

The ministry repeated warnings that drug smugglers would meet similar punishment. The kingdom applies strict Islamic sharia laws, executing murderers, rapists and drug smugglers often by public beheading.

Monday's execution brought to 37 the number of people reported put to death so far this year.

Last year, at least 99 people were executed in Saudi Arabia, which has recently been attacked by the international human rights group Amnesty International for its rights record.

 
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German survives car crash, record alcohol level

KARLSRUHE, Germany, (Reuters) - German police arrested a motorist early on Saturday with a blood-alcohol content of 4.46 percent after he drove his car into a motorway crash barrier.

Police said the alcohol reading was the highest ever registered by the authorities in the southern German town of Karlsruhe. The legal limit is 0.5 percent.

The 40-year-old motorist, who suffered only slight injuries, was said to be ``completely inebriated'' but managed to apologise to the police for his ``stupidity.''

They still took away his licence, though.

 
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Meth Fumes Sicken 20 on Passenger Flight

DES MOINES, Iowa May 7, 2000 (AP) -- Methamphetamine fumes coming from a piece of luggage aboard a commercial plane sickened 20 passengers Friday evening, officials said.

The crew of United Airlines Flight 1190, traveling from Denver to Des Moines, reported a strange odor from a garment bag stuffed into an overhead compartment, said Scott Williams, Des Moines International Airport operations manager.

The odor grew stronger as the 90-minute flight wore on, United spokeswoman Wendy Parson said.

''The flight crew kind of narrowed the smell down to something in one of the overhead bins and ... removed a bag from the overhead bin and put it in the back,'' Parson said.

The crew alerted local authorities after the plane made its scheduled landing, she said.

About 20 passengers complained of nausea, but none needed to go to a hospital, said Linda Frangenberg, a spokeswoman for the Des Moines Fire Department.

The bag held ''methamphetamine oil,'' containing ether and other chemicals, Frangenberg said.

Passengers were questioned by law enforcement authorities, Parson said. Investigators weren't immediately sure who owned the bag.

 
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Ecstasy Flow Becoming Epidemic

NEW YORK April 3, 2000 AP –– A lawyer arriving from Paris is stopped at John F. Kennedy International Airport for a routine customs inspection. Discovered in the false bottom of his bag are 21,000 ecstasy pills.

An Israeli is overheard on a wiretap arranging illicit deliveries of ecstasy to Manhattan hotels. Investigators seize 300,000 pills worth $7.5 million and make 32 arrests.

A young ultra-Orthodox Jew, about to be sentenced in Brooklyn, laments accepting a free flight to Belgium in exchange for returning with luggage laden with a designer drug – again, ecstasy.

Authorities cite these recent cases and others as proof that New York City has become the epicenter of a national boom in illegal imports of ecstasy, the synthetic "psychedelic amphetamine" also known as MDMA, or simply "E."

Seizures of the innocent-looking tablets – some are embossed with smiley faces, shamrocks or Playboy bunny ears – have multiplied like rabbits. U.S. Customs reports it confiscated 3.5 million pills throughout the country in fiscal 1999, compared to 750,000 in 1998; the total has already reached 4 million this year.

In the New York City area alone, the totals were 1.3 million pills in 1999, up from 48,400 in 1998.

Agents have discovered ecstasy stashed in airmailed packages, and in imported cars and antique furniture. But mainly, it's smuggled in luggage carried by couriers from Europe, where pills are produced for less than a dollar for sale in a youthful and expanding U.S. market for up to $40 a piece, authorities said.

Using undercover officers and cooperating suspects, authorities have learned that the New York imports serve a vast Northeast market. Federal officials, who asked not to be identified, said New York appeared to be the largest American gateway for ecstasy based on number of pills seized.

Other major entry points include Miami and Orlando. Memphis – a hub for international air deliveries – is the main supplier for California.

The multimillion dollar profit potential has attracted an eclectic collection of traffickers working in varied locales, as evidenced by the Feb. 24 arrest of notorious mob turncoat Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano for his alleged role in an ecstasy ring in Phoenix, and the seizure of 30,000 pills carried by an air traveler to Cincinnati three weeks later.

Authorities say Israeli and Russian organized crime groups – and even some members of Brooklyn's conservative Jewish communities – are hooked on dealing ecstasy.

Joel Gluck, 19, was one of several young Hasidic men recruited by an Amsterdam-based ring which believed their traditional black hats, dark suits and sidecurls would deflect suspicion. They were given the trips to Europe and cash in exchange for smuggling back millions of pills.

Federal officials have responded to the ecstasy explosion with a flurry of enforcement measures and war-on-drugs rhetoric reminiscent of the crack cocaine scare of a decade ago.

"Only with a concerted global law enforcement offensive can we conquer this threat," the acting head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Donnie Marshall, declared last month after authorities shut down an East Coast ring selling 100,000 pills a week.

Customs Commissioner Raymond Kelly has used the agency's Web site, www.customs.gov, to warn parents that ecstasy abuse – once confined to urban dance parties known as "raves" – has become a "full-fledged epidemic" spreading into suburbia and other sheltered communities.

The commissioner and others also have repeatedly cited medical evidence that ecstasy causes severe dehydration, dizziness and headaches or, with prolonged use, depression, memory loss and even permanent brain damage.

"There's a notion that ecstasy makes you feel good, that there's no downside," Kelly said in an interview. "But there's plenty of horror stories."

The DEA classifies ecstasy in the same category as LSD and heroin. As with those drugs, federal defendants face stiff penalties. For instance, the suppliers in the Hasidic courier case face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Those sentencing guidelines, critics charge, are too harsh.

"There's a drastic difference between ecstasy and crack cocaine or heroin, but the guidelines don't appreciate that difference," said Joseph Tacopina, a defense attorney representing a real estate owner in another federal ecstasy conspiracy case.

Pro-ecstasy Web sites argue the drug bears no real resemblance to hard-core narcotics. They note both the absence of widespread gunplay, turf wars, overdoses and physical addiction associated with the cocaine and heroin trade, and ecstasy's history of use by some therapists to enhance psychotherapy.

One student at Bard College, a small liberal arts school north of New York City, says ecstasy is readily available through a network of fellow students.

"It's been the one drug where there's been the steadiest supply this semester," the student, who asked that his name not be used, said in an interview.

He said he takes a $25 "hit" of ecstasy before going to small weekend dance parties. The drug, he added, is considered on par with marijuana and alcohol.

"It's like it's not a big deal around here," he said.

 
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Police aim lens at harsh reality of addiction

VANCOUVER (Reuters) March 14, 2000 -- Policeman Al Arsenault carries a camera along with his gun as he patrols Vancouver's grim Downtown Eastside, collecting stark images of junkies huddled in alleys trapped in the throes of drug sickness.

Television viewers in the United States this week got to view the harsh reality of drug addiction in one of Canada's poorest neighborhoods as seen by Arsenault and fellow members of the ``Odd Squad'' and as told by the addicts themselves.

``Through a Blue Lens,'' a documentary about the Vancouver police effort to chronicle life on the streets, has already struck a chord in Canada, where it debuted in December on national television. It was being shown in the United States this week on cable network HBO/Cinemax.

The Odd Squad traces its roots to Arsenault's plan to create an anti-drug slide show for school children from the hundreds of disturbing pictures he had taken of the harsh realities of life for addicts. Arsenault, 45, a 20-year veteran of the force, showed the slides to six colleagues in 1998.

They took up the idea with a vengeance and eventually scraped up enough money to buy a video camera. The group, who eventually named themselves the Odd Squad Productions Society, attracted the attention of local filmmaker Veronica Mannix, who filmed the officers as they videotaped and interacted with a group of six drug addicts.

``It's the addicts telling the story,'' Odd Squad member Constable Dave Kolb said of ``Through a Blue Lens.''

The star of the show is Nicola, called ``Nikki'' by the officers, who jokes and flirts with them when she is lucid -- and not asking for money.

A child of a wealthy family, she was injected with cocaine by an adult acquaintance when she was 15. ``It was a joke, it was a game,'' she says of her introduction to the highly addictive drug.

About 25 years and a couple of hundred thousand nightmares later, she is found by the police cameras living in alleys, sheltering from the rain under an overturned shopping cart and desperately hustling to feed her dragon.

``I swear to God if anybody ever (injected) my kid now I'd probably have their fingers broken once a week,'' she tells the officers.

In another scene, Carlee, 29, is caught on film in her small, dingy Downtown Eastside apartment after her boyfriend, John, has shot himself in the face. They had argued over his plans to commit an armed robbery.

Carlee's journey to life's depths began in a good home in a Vancouver suburb. Now she is an HIV-infected prostitute, addicted to cocaine and wondering through her drug haze how she will get to the hospital to see John.

``It's been a tough grind on the street,'' she tells Arsenault as he questions her.

Occasionally, there is a bit of unintentional gallows humor to lighten the documentary's mood. The Odd Squad films a paramedic crew reviving an overdose victim who, after being brought back to life, sits up and pulls the breathing tube out of his mouth and looks at it with a stunned expression.

``How the hell'd that get in there?'' an off-camera voice in the alley asks on the man's behalf.

Odd Squad members said they realize that the cure to drug abuse problems is largely out of their hands and they see their mandate as as prevention -- especially preventing children from joining the area's drug scene.

``There has been a huge influx of youth into the downtown Eastside in recent years,'' Kolb said. ``We started seeing a lot of 12-year-olds and even some younger than that experimenting with drugs or involved in the drug culture.''

Odd Squad officers admit the Blue Lens film project has also changed the way they look at the role of police in general and the Downtown Eastside in particular.

``I've turned into a bit of a softie in dealing with some of these people,'' said Toby Hinton. ``Now I understand that there's a hell of a lot more to policing. If you want to police a neighborhood you want to take ownership of it. You want to become part of the solution.''

The Odd Squad hopes eventually to have two different versions of ``Through a Blue Lens'' for use in school anti-drug programs in Canada and the United States.

 

 

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Pot smokers tend to become dropouts

NEW YORK, March 10, 2000 (Reuters Health) -- Teens who smoke marijuana may be more than twice as likely to drop out of high school than their nonsmoking peers, results of a recent study suggest.

The study, in a recent issue of Health Economics, found that students who have smoked marijuana at least once are about 2.3 times more likely to quit school. The decision to drop out was also found to be influenced by the age of the student and the use of other substances such as alcohol, cigarettes and drugs such as cocaine, hallucinogens, or sedatives.

``The results suggest that marijuana initiation is positively related to dropping out of high school,'' write Jeremy W. Bray and colleagues at the Research Triangle Institute in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

The findings confirm the results of previous research linking substance use to lower educational attainment. The study included more than 1,300 teenagers, aged 16 to 18, who attended public school in the southeastern US.

The survey showed that 41% of 16-year-old students, 46% of 17-year-old students, and 49% of 18-year-old students had smoked marijuana at least once.

These rates were 62%, 65% and 67% for cigarette use and 76%, 79% and 82% for alcohol use, respectively. Forty percent of teens had used other drugs by the age of 16 and more than 44% had tried other drugs by the age of 18, researchers found.

The investigators found that dropout rates were higher for students who had tried any of the substances than among students who had not tried marijuana, alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs, ''and in many cases it is more than double the rates of students who have not initiated substance use.''

However, the authors note that their study did not include a nationally representative sample of students and defined substance initiation as any use of the substance, including one-time experimentation, rather than regular use.

Still, the study may be used by policy makers and researchers seeking to understand the causes of dropping out and the changes that teenagers undergo toward the end of their high school years.

``Such a broader appreciation will be necessary if research is to inform policy makers not just about the extent of high school dropout, but also about effective ways to prevent this problem,'' Bray and colleagues conclude.

According to the report, marijuana use among US teens aged 12 to 17 rose to 9.4% in 1997 from 4.4% in 1990.

 

 

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Study: Marijuana Raises Heart Risks

SAN DIEGO, CA (AP) March 3, 2000 --  Boomers pushing into their 50s probably should add another item to their list of things to worry about: The effect of marijuana on their hearts.

A study released Thursday documents for the first time that smoking pot increases the risk of a heart attack.

The chance of keeling over from a single joint is tiny, just as no one dies from one cigarette. But the cumulative effect on large numbers of 1960s children taking their pot habit into middle age could be significant.

``With baby boomers aging, more people in (their) 40s and 50s are smoking marijuana than in prior generations,'' said Dr. Murray Mittleman of the Harvard School of Public Health and Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. ``The risk of coronary artery disease increases with age. Whether this will emerge as a public health problem remains to be seen.''

Mittleman presented the data at a conference in San Diego of the American Heart Association.

The study found that the risk of a heart attack is five times higher than usual in the hour after smoking a joint.

To put this into perspective, many things can trigger a heart attack, including just climbing out of bed in the morning. The researchers said that for someone in good shape, marijuana is about twice as risky as exercising or having sex.

The researchers questioned 3,882 heart attack victims - men and women - at 62 locations across the country about their habits and found that 124 were marijuana users. While pot was uncommon among the elderly heart patients, 13 percent of those under age 50 said they smoke it.

Among those questioned, 37 had their heart attacks within a day of using marijuana, including nine within an hour afterward.

The researchers calculated that someone's risk of a heart attack is five times higher during the hour after using marijuana. After an hour, the risk falls to twice normal. It soon returns to the usual level.

Whether a fivefold increase is a worry depends on whether someone has other risk factors, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. The increased risk is probably insignificant for a 20-year-old, whose chance of a heart attack is vanishingly small anyway.

``With baby boomers aging, more people in 40s and 50s are smoking marijuana than in prior generations,'' Mittleman said. ``The risk of coronary artery disease increases with age. Whether this will emerge as a public health problem remains to be seen.''

In any case, the risk of a heart attack from any single session of marijuana smoking is likely to be low. Mittleman said that for an otherwise healthy 50-year-old man, it is about 10 in 1 million.

Marijuana typically makes the heart speed up by about 40 beats a minute. Whether this is how it contributes to heart attacks is unclear. Mittleman noted that while marijuana doesn't contain nicotine, the smoke is otherwise similar to cigarette smoke.

In general, the marijuana smokers in the study were more likely than other heart attack victims to be overweight and sedentary, but they were less apt to have diabetes, high blood pressure or badly clogged arteries.

``My advice on marijuana is, `Don't,''' said Dr. Lynn Smaha of Sayre, Pa., president of the heart association. ``If they have heart disease, I'd tell patients they are playing a dangerous game if they smoke marijuana.''

Mittleman said the possibility of triggering a heart attack should be considered when deciding whether to smoke marijuana for medicinal purposes, such as to relieve the nausea of chemotherapy.

Chuck Thomas of the Washington-based Medical Marijuana Policy Group, which advocates legalizing pot for medical treatment, noted that many prescription drugs can also have dangerous side effects.

``If someone has such a bad heart that they can't run upstairs, they probably should not smoke marijuana, either,'' he said. ``But that decision should be left up to a doctor and not the criminal justice system.''

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Delta Airline Drug Testing Debacle

WASHINGTON, DC.  Feb. 28, 2000  /PRNewswire/ -- The Association of Flight Attendants, AFL-CIO, urged Delta Air Lines CEO Leo Mullin today to fix the airline's drug testing program which has resulted in the firing of flight attendants who did not test positive for drug use.

``We support the idea of a drug free workplace, but we also believe in fairness,'' said Patricia Friend, president of the Association of Flight Attendants. ``The results of recent tests call into question Delta's drug testing program. Delta should bring back all those who were fired while it makes the changes needed to restore the flight attendants faith in the integrity of the testing process.''

Recently, Delta fired a veteran flight attendant with a spotless work record and absolutely no history of drug use. Portland-based flight attendant Yasuko Ishikawa was terminated after submitting to a random drug test because her urine sample was judged ``not consistent with human urine.'' Delta refused to consider explanations for the unusual reading and denied Ishikawa the opportunity to retake the test. Drinking large quantities of water (as recommended by the airline), low body weight, and diet may have influenced Ishikawa's test results. Even though there was never any evidence of drugs in her system, Ishikawa's seven year career as a flight attendant came to an abrupt end.

In addition to Ishikawa, at least five and perhaps as many as 12 flight attendants have been fired for urine samples ``not consistent with human urine'' following the screening tests.

In her letter to Mullin, Friend said that she had also written Department of Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater to point out the flaws in the current testing regime.

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Cigarette craving can trigger addicts' drug urge

NEW YORK, Feb 23, 2000 (Reuters Health) -- New research linking cigarette smoking and drug abuse suggests that if drug users want to kick the habit, they may have to give up smoking, too.

In a study of 42 drug-dependent smokers who were not interested in giving up smoking, researchers from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that the smokers' cigarette cravings also triggered urges to use their illegal drug of choice. The findings are published in the February issue of the journal Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology.

``This study suggests it may be difficult to treat only one addiction at a time,'' said lead study author Dr. Stephen J. Heishman, a psychologist at NIDA, in an interview with Reuters Health.

Because ``the vast majority'' of drug users also smoke, Heishman said, professionals who treat drug addiction should be aware of the drug-smoking link. Experts, he noted, disagree about whether to treat only a drug abuser's primary addiction or to address all the user's addictions at once.

In the current study, Heishman and his colleagues had subjects listen to scripts that placed them in scenes with or without cues that urged them to smoke. Each script was written to provoke a positive, negative, or neutral mood. For example, the negative-mood script had listeners picture themselves sitting nervously in a waiting room, where across from them two people are smoking. ``As the time passes and your anxiety continues to build,'' the script reads, ``the desire to smoke grows stronger and stronger.''

Heishman's team found that all urge scripts, regardless of mood, boosted participants' cravings for not only cigarettes, but also their ``drug of choice.'' For more than half, that drug was cocaine, followed by marijuana (17%) and alcohol (11%). Five percent used primarily heroin.

In a second experiment, the NIDA researchers also found that participants' smoking and drug urges increased along with the intensity of the script imagery.

In a related study reported in the same journal, researchers from the Los Angeles Addiction Research Consortium found that compared with non-smokers and light smokers, heavy smokers were significantly more likely to be using heroin or cocaine despite receiving methadone. The study examined smoking habits among 32 opiate abusers being treated in a methadone-maintenance program. The findings suggest there are ``compelling reasons'' to include smoking cessation in methadone-maintenance treatment, according to Dominick L. Frosch and his colleagues.

``The benefits of smoking cessation,'' they write, ``may extend to other drug use.'' SOURCE: Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology 2000;8.

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Clinton signs ``date rape'' drug GHB law

WASHINGTON, Feb 18, 2000 (Reuters) -- President Bill Clinton signed a law on Friday banning the possession of ``date rape'' drug gamma-hydroxybutyrate, or GHB, which officials say has been used to sedate women before they are sexually assaulted.

The White House said in a statement that the law imposes severe penalties for possession of the drug, placing it in the same category as cocaine and heroine in the Controlled Substances Act.

According to Michigan Republican Sen. Spence Abraham, there have been more than 30 deaths and 3,500 overdoses in less than a decade from GHB use, including cases where young women were given the drug without their knowledge.

The law directs the Department of Health and Human Services to launch a national campaign to educate young people, police, rape victim counsellors and emergency room staff about the drug and signs that it may have been used on someone.

The White House said the legislation, however, would permit legitimate research into the use of the drug to treat people suffering from narcolepsy.
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COP GETS JOB BACK DESPITE DRUG TEST

(Chicago Tribune) February 10, 2000 -- For the first time since the Chicago Police Department started random drug-testing of officers nearly a decade ago as part of its zero-tolerance policy, an officer who failed a test has gotten his job back and returned to duty, department officials said.

Detective Thomas Ward tested positive for marijuana during a random drug test in June 1997. He said he had unintentionally smoked a cigar laced with marijuana.

But Supt. Terry Hillard rejected that explanation and recommended that Ward be fired. After a hearing, the Chicago Police Board agreed and voted in December 1998 to kick Ward off the force, saying he had violated three departmental rules, according to board documents.

Ward, then off the force, appealed the police board's decision in Cook County Circuit Court. In September, Judge Stephen Schiller ordered the board to reconsider its decision in light of Ward's 20-year career, which includes the Blue Star Award for valor and numerous commendations.

Then in December, the Police Board, in a split decision, reduced Ward's discipline and allowed him to return to active patrol. It said that his time off the force--roughly 19 months--would constitute a suspension.

Hillard and city attorneys plan to go back to Circuit Court to appeal the Police Board's decision and force Ward from the department, according to officials.

Hillard, like superintendents before him, has maintained a zero-tolerance policy that calls for dismissal of any officer using illegal drugs.

"The superintendent's position on this is pretty clear. We're held to a higher standard, and you can't have them doing this sort of thing," said police spokesman Pat Camden. "You've got people carrying guns. You can't have them getting high."

The police union, the Fraternal Order of Police, also works hard to distance itself from officers who test positive for illegal drugs. It refuses to pay for attorneys to defend the officers in such cases, said President William J. Nolan.

"If somebody is involved in that, then we don't get involved," he said. "If they're using drugs, then they should be off the job."

For the department, Ward's return to the force is viewed as a setback for the zero-tolerance police, particularly in battling drug use in the community.

Officers are screened for narcotics when they are hired, promoted, assigned to sensitive positions such as in the narcotics section, or when there is "probable cause," according to officials.

Since the random tests began in 1991, when then-Supt. LeRoy Martin initiated it, nearly 32,000 city officers have been tested, Camden said, with random selection done by a computer selecting Social Security numbers.

Positive test results have come back on 125 officers of various ranks, and the superintendent's office moved immediately to fire them, Camden said. None of those officers remains on the force. They either resigned in the face of departmental charges, or were fired, according to Camden, and Ward's case is not expected to affect their status.

The department also has tested nearly 11,000 more officers when they were moved to new positions. Ninety-nine officers had positive tests, and none of those officers is still with the department, Camden said.

The number of officers testing positive for drugs has declined over the years, which the department considers proof that its tough policy is effective. Officers are told of the zero-tolerance rule before they start work.

At the start of the random-testing program, 1.5 percent of the tests were positive. The overall figure now is .39 percent, according to Camden.

"There has been a very small number of officers coming back with positive tests," he said. "Our people know they'll get caught."

Angela Thomas, a Law Department attorney, said that city lawyers representing the superintendent would take the Ward case back to Circuit Court first and, if the city loses there, on to the Illinois Appellate Court.

"We plan to continue to fight this case," she said.

Thomas suggested that the Police Board might have misunderstood Schiller's ruling, taking his order to consider Ward's work history in determining his punishment as a directive to reduce his punishment.

Ward joined the department in 1980, according to police records. He was awarded the department's Blue Star Award for a New Year's Eve 1987 incident on the West Side in which he was shot and seriously wounded when he and a partner answered a call for a domestic disturbance.

Ward has received seven department commendations and 90 honorable mentions, according to Camden.

Ward could not be reached for comment. According to the department, he has been assigned to the Calumet Area detective headquarters on the South Side, but officials there said he had been assigned to Belmont Area detective headquarters on the North Side.

Ward's attorney, Tamara Cummings, declined to comment on the case because it still is in litigation.
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Nicotine as addictive as heroin

LONDON, Feb 8, 2000 (Reuters) -- Nicotine is a powerful addictive substance on a par with heroin and cocaine and should be controlled like a drug or medicine, British doctors said on Tuesday.

In a hard-hitting report prepared by international experts, the Royal College of Physicians said cigarettes are nicotine delivery products and said nicotine addiction should be recognised as a major medical and social problem.

``It is time for nicotine to become a major health priority in Britain,'' Sir George Alberti, the president of the college, said in the report.

``Recognition of this central role of nicotine addiction is important because it has major implications for the way that smoking is managed by doctors and other health professionals, and for the way in which harmful nicotine delivery products such as cigarettes should be regulated and controlled in society.''

The tobacco industry disputed the report's findings.

The Tobacco Manufacturers' Association, which represents leading tobacco firms, said it overstated the danger of smoking.

``We do not believe that this product is as addictive as the report would suggest. Unlike hard drugs, people do give it up every day and people do not have to fund their habit by beating up old ladies,'' spokesman John Carlisle said.

The report said the way tar and nicotine are measured in cigarettes is misleading. Brands described as 'light' and 'mild' should be banned unless they are proven to have a reduced health risk, it said.

Warning labels on tobacco products should make it clear how addictive cigarettes are, the report said, adding that nicotine replacement therapy, which helps smokers quit, should be available on the government-funded National Health Service.

``At a time when smoking still causes one in every five deaths in Britain, measures designed to achieve further reductions in smoking are clearly important and, if successful, will realise substantial public health benefits,'' Alberti added.

The anti-smoking group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) called the report a ``devastating critique'' of low-tar cigarettes and the measures used to entice people to smoke.

``The Royal College has sounded the death-knell for low-tar cigarettes and the comforting but wrong idea that these are somehow less dangerous,'' Clive Bates, the director of ASH, said.

``You couldn't have a more withering and detailed critique of the methodologies underpinning the regulation of the harm caused by cigarettes,'' he added.
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Cocaine damages bone in nose, eye socket

NEW YORK, NY. Dec 29, 1999  (Reuters Health) -- Inhaling cocaine for many years can result in obstruction of the tear ducts, which may eventually lead to serious eye infections and destruction of the bone supporting the eye, according to Florida researchers.

Doctors have long known that inhaling cocaine injures nasal passages. However, a report in this month's Archives of Ophthalmology is the first to show that long-term inhalation of cocaine causes a condition known as acquired nasolacrimal duct obstruction (NLDO). If untreated, such blockages of the tear duct system can lead to serious eye infections and eventually the breakdown of nasal cartilage and bone, as well as breakdown of bone in the eye sockets.

``There are many causes of this type of obstruction of the tear ducts,'' Dr. David Tse, an ophthalmologist and co-author of the study, told Reuters Health. ``But to my knowledge, cocaine abuse has never been identified as a cause before, and to get a clue you need to look into the nose.'' The researchers reviewed 6 years of medical records at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami. They found five women and two men who had come to the institute because of tearing of the eyes and, in some cases, severe pain and swelling around an eye.

Each of the patients initially denied cocaine use, but after an examination revealed damage to the nasal passages, they admitted to inhaling cocaine over periods ranging from 5 to 20 years. The patients had chronic inflammation with scarring that obstructed the tear ducts, and some had extensive destruction of bone in the sinuses and eye socket. Three of the patients had orbital cellulitis, a serious eye infection. The patients were treated with antibiotics and sometimes surgery to repair the damage. In one case, surgeons had to use a flap of tissue from the patient's forehead to protect the eye from the air in the nasal cavity.
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10 Truckers Arrested in Drug Sting

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Dec. 22, 1999 -- Ten truck drivers were arrested on drug charges and their rigs were confiscated Tuesday after officers posed as drug dealers selling crack cocaine, police said.

``This is not only a drug issue but a public safety issue,'' police Capt. David Testa said. ``We're worried about these people driving around in their big rigs high on crack.''

After receiving complaints from residents and businesses that truck drivers were coming into the area to buy drugs, Testa said officers posed as truckers - with trucks donated from local trucking companies - and purchased drugs from six known drug dealers, who were then arrested.

Police then posed as drug dealers and sold crack cocaine to 10 truckers, who were subsequently arrested and charged with attempting to buy a controlled substance, Testa said. The sting took place in the area of South Philadelphia where many trucking companies and food distribution centers are located, he said.
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Company Launches Drug War Attack

December 17, 1999

ENKA, N.C.( ABC News Wire) -- Officials at a western North Carolina factory decided to hire a private security firm to investigate its employees for alleged drug activity. Rick Roberson, Vice President of Colbond in Enka, says the company hired a private firm after some employees said illegal drug activity was going on in the plant. A four month investigation followed that cost the company 50-thousand dollars. Police have arrested four workers and charged them with dealing marijuana , cocaine and other drugs to co-workers. Roberson says he's proud of the employees that spoke up. The company is planning to make changes in its drug testing policy.

 
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Plant Workers Accused Of Drug Sales

December 17, 1999

COLUMBUS, IN (ABC News Wire) -- Some workers at two Columbus-based plants are accused of buying and selling drugs on the job. Arvin is a top producer of auto parts and Cosco is a major manufacturer of infant merchandise. In a year-long sting, company management observed several employees buying and selling significant amounts of marijuana and cocaine. Columbus police were able to identify 20 people who either bought or sold drugs. They also confiscated more than six pounds of marijuana, four thousand dollars worth of cocaine and a handgun.

 
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