By KEVIN NEVERS
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
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.
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
•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.