Chesterton Tribune

Kids learning about the latest drugs on the Internet

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Kids may not be able to find Europe on the map, tell you who their congressman is, or distinguish between the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. But in one area of their young lives they’re demonstrating rare industry and ingenuity.

In their choice, pursuit, and ingestion of drugs.

The old standbys still have a niche in the market, of course: marijuana, cocaine, and—as the overdose death March 3 of a former Chesterton High School student reveals only too grimly—heroin.

Yet kids today are experimenting with drugs which few parents have ever heard of. Homemade drugs, designer drugs, prescription drugs, even perfectly legal over-the-counter drugs.

As Paul Ulrich, an agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, told his colleagues in the Community Action Drug Coalition at its monthly meeting Wednesday, it’s difficult to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the latest fads in the drug subculture.

Difficult, unless you spend hours surfing the Internet, where the kids themselves have created websites devoted to the next great high. These sites feature tips on where to obtain a particular drug and how to ingest it, information on the duration of its effect and the likelihood of side effects, first-hand blow-by-blow accounts of good trips and bad ones, and even answers to FAQs.

Thus, in one website reviewed by the Chesterton Tribune, a kid describes his first use of Coricidin HBP Cough & Cold tablets, an over-the-counter medication dubbed “Triple C” and capable in large doses of producing an hallucinogenic effect similar to that caused by LSD:

I read up a little bit on . . . Coricidin pills to find out what I was getting myself into. The sites I went to advised me to take only 8 of the special non-acetaminophen tablets. So I did just that. . . . Lolling my head from side to side to the beat of non-existing music was very relaxing. I stood up and walked around a bit. I felt like a chicken, my walking was very abnormal. I collapsed on the couch and just talked to myself, trying to make sense out of my words.

In a different website, on the other hand, a “somewhat experienced Coricidin user” expresses these concerns about his heavy use:

1. Extreme Depression, I think it was extreme because of other **** going on and it just magnifies it.

2. Extreme Paranoia, I think this is some what normal but it was pretty serious . . . . I thought my mom and dad were trying to make me crazy . . . . I thought my neighbors were watching me (still don’t know if that ones false haha) . . . .

3. In silence I usually hear music very clearly even if I’m off the drug its somewhat faint though (I think its normal to hear music clearly on the drug).

Coricidin—which contains dextromethorphan, an ingredient related to morphine—has proved so popular a drug that Bob Taylor, coordinator of the Porter County Drug Task Force, is asking pharmacists to pull it from their shelves and sell it behind the counter at a customer’s request only. Many have done so, he said, while those who haven’t are likely to see their stock of Coricidin plundered by shoplifters.

The Smorgasbord

Kids who prefer other highs, meanwhile, have plenty of choices:

•Ritalin. A stimulant commonly prescribed in the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Ritalin in large doses produces a range of effects, from euphoria and agitation to hallucinations and paranoia. Kids have taken to breaking into schools to get at the supplies of Ritalin stored in nurses’ offices, said Ulrich. “It’s a black market drug on the street now.”

•Ecstasy. A stimulant and hallucinogen extremely popular in the rave subculture—frenzied dancing, psychedelic light shows, lousy music—3,4-methylenedioxymeth-amphetamine or MDMA has a variety of side effects beyond the desired ones of euphoria and relaxation, including nausea, tremors, anxiety, and seizures. “We’re gaining ground on traditional drug use,” noted Ulrich, “but Ecstasy is taking off.”

•GHB/GBH. An anaesthetic also popular in the club scene, gammahydroxybutrate or “grievous bodily harm” slows the heartbeat and lowers blood pressure. It also induces vomiting, dizziness, and drowsiness.

•BZP and TFMPP. Neither benzylpiperazine nor triflouromethylphenylpiperazine is listed under the Controlled Substances Act, each is currently legal, and both are being sold as Ecstasy. BZP and TFMPP are manufactured legally in India and may be purchased over the Internet from bulk chemical supply stores in the U.S.

•OxyContin. A time-released form of the opium derivative oxycodone—the same active ingredient in Percodan and Percocet—OxyContin has become the loot of choice of well-organized burglary rings which target pharmacies, said Alex Rodriguez, another agent with DEA.

•Rohypnol. The brand name of the tranquilizer flunitrazepam and known as Roofies on the street, Rohypnol is the latest date-rape drug. Slipped into the drink of an unsuspecting woman, it produces amnesia, muscle relaxation, and sedation lasting a couple of hours.

Those not content to buy their favorite drug or steal it can also make it, and in August 2001 the Porter County Drug Task Force busted a methamphetamine lab in Portage, the first such lab confirmed in the county. Although the recipe is easily available on the Internet, the manufacture of methamphetamine is a dangerous business since it utilizes a number of flammable, explosive, and other hazardous “precursor materials”: lye, paint thinner, and anhydrous ammonia among them.

But, Rodriguez said, because the purchase of such items in quantity may attract the notice of an alert clerk in a hardware store, methamphetamine cooks have taken to sending addicts in their place to steal the precursor materials. “Most of these kids are shoplifters.”

Most of these kids are also pretty clever. In the cat-and-mouse game which law enforcement plays with drug traffickers and their customers, police are usually a step or two behind, especially on the East and West coasts where the latest fads usually hit first. “If you watch the flow of drugs,” Taylor told the Tribune today, “they get to the Midwest later. But we’ve still got to play catch-up.”

The Internet has made catch-up all the more difficult. Websites devoted to drugs are no more illegal than those devoted to pornography or bomb-making, Taylor said, and they spread the word about the next thing in highs rapidly, efficiently, and anonymously.


Posted 3/8/2002