May 28, 2004

“Exposing the Rave” Campaign Aimed at Parents, Youth, Professionals, and the GLBT Community

Students will be taking more than their dates, family, and friends to prom and graduation. Some will be accompanied by Ecstasy, Methamphetamine, GHB, Ketamine, Rohypnol, and LSD.

“Unfortunately some students will be celebrating with these so called club drugs,” said Tracy Gamble, from the San Diego County Club Drug Task Force. “They’ll be using these substances without really knowing what they are putting into their bodies.”

They don’t know that Ecstasy can cause hyperthermia, loss of coordination, dizziness, fainting, depression, confusion, and sleep disorders. They are unaware that GHB causes drowsiness, nausea/vomiting, loss of consciousness, seizures, coma, and even death.

They should know that methamphetamine causes aggression, violence, psychotic behavior, memory loss and cardiac and neurological damage; that Ketamine, when smoked or snorted causes vomiting, convulsions, paranoia, and aggressive/violent behavior.

They should be aware that Rohypnol is considered a date rape drug that causes extreme anxiety, tension, numbness, tingling of the extremities, loss of identity, hallucinations, delirium, convulsions, shock, and cardiovascular collapse. They should be educated with the fact that LSD generates altered states of perception, causes nausea/chronic mental disorders and increases body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure.

That’s why Gamble, law enforcement representatives, medical and prevention experts, and community residents gathered in front of the emergency entrance of Scripps-Mercy Hospital in Hillcrest to warn about the deadly consequences club drugs are having in our communities.

“Designer drugs are not just harmful to your body. They can also lead to other crimes like sexual assault,” said District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis. Dumanis added that her office has assigned special prosecutors to deal with crimes related to club drugs.

“Our office is committed to working closely with the DEA and the Narcotics Task Force in prosecuting these cases. We are also an active participant in the Club Drug Task Force,” she said.

Ecstasy, Methamphetamine, GHB, Ketamine, Rohypnol, and LSD can produce a range of unwanted harmful effects, including death. And when used in combination with each other, these substances can be even more harmful.

In 2002, 89 people in San Diego died as a result of using club drugs. Furthermore, a total of 717 more ended up in emergency rooms in hospitals throughout San Diego County.

Public health officials are convinced the popularity of club drugs is due to the fact that that the dangers of these drugs are not fully appreciated, much like in the ‘70s and ‘80s with cocaine. By the time the full dangers of cocaine were known, it was too late. People experienced serious problems with the drug. The issue is especially severe in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community, who are considered the heaviest user group of club drugs.

Armed with a board full of club drug paraphernalia and plenty of brochures on the dangers of these drugs, Wheeler and her South Bay counterpart, Xavier Martínez, go to high schools, community and recovery centers “exposing the truth” about these deadly substances.

“Parents are always interested in finding more about the paraphernalia and what the items are used for,” said Wheeler, whose efforts, combined with other prevention campaigns seem to be having positive results.

According to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, Ecstasy use, for example, declined from 11 to 9 percent in 2003. The 2003 Monitoring the Future Study also revealed that LSD used dropped 43 percent (from 6.6 % to 3.7%).

This downward trend, prevention experts say, is due to the fact that when perception of risk goes up, consumption goes down.

For additional information on club drugs and the “Exposing the Rave” campaign, visit www.midcitycan.org or call (619) 283-9624.

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