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Safety First!


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According to the 1999 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, conducted by the federal government, more than 20 percent to 21 percent of people ages 18 to 20 used an illicit drug within just the last 30 days. While we don't condone the use of illegal substances, we understand that at some point in your college experience, you will likely be offered an opportunity to experiment. Rather than jumping into a situation blind, educate yourself and know what you're getting into before you make any decision.

Ecstasy (MDMA)

A.K.A.: X, XTC, Molly, E

What it looks like: Normally comes in pill form, often stamped with whimsical designs.

The High: Like it sounds -- a feeling of emotional and physical well-being, seemingly heightened senses. A two-hour-long warm fuzzy.

What it's doing to your body: Ecstasy is very dangerous for two reasons -- One, it raises your internal body temperature. Without proper hydration, you will boil your own organs. Two, X depletes your brain's levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that controls depression and helps coordinate movement. Lack of serotonin has been shown to cause brain damage. To be safe, think WATER, WATER, WATER. Physicians say that drinking at least 500 ml (about 17 ounces) of water per hour will keep you hydrated, but if you're dancing, drink more -- but sip. Chugging can give you cramps. If you stop sweating, feel nauseous, get dizzy or suddenly just feel weird, you may have heatstroke, the No. 1 killer of X users. SIT DOWN and chill for a while.


A.K.A: K, Ket, Special K

What it looks like: It's a prescription liquid that comes in small bottles, but is normally cooked into a white powder for snorting.

The High: In small doses, the downer creates a dreamy high. In higher doses, the drug can cause you to go into a K-Hole, a trip state often described as a near-death experience, in which it is hard to move.

What it's doing to your body: Ket is used as a human anesthetic, so too much can depress the body's systems, and in effect, relax you to death.

Speed (methamphetamine)

A.K.A.: Crank, Crystal, Meth, Snow, Tweak, Rails and about a million other names

What it looks like: yellowish to white grainy powder, sometimes in rock form, like crack

The High: Speed is one of the harshest uppers, kicking your ass into a wide-eyed state of AWAKE. At first you're motivated and talkative, with no need for food or sleep, but the longer you amp the more you feel burnt and crappy, until you can't function. At this point, even hard-core addicts crash and sleep for days at a time.

What it's doing to your body: Because speed is so cheap and available, you never know what's in it. Be prepared to snort, inject or smoke anything from baking powder to Comet. Speed elevates your heart rate to unnatural levels. It kills not only by depletion of dopamine, another neurotransmitter, and slow deterioration of the central nervous system, but also by hypertension and coronary collapse.

Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas)

A.K.A.: whippets

What it looks like: a gas, sold in small canisters used for whipped cream or, more often, in balloons.

The High: A quick floaty, dreamy state, usually with major loss of motor skills. Stay seated or you could get hurt.

What it's doing to your body: Nitrous can impede the flow of oxygen to the brain, making you goofy but also causing severe brain damage, seizures and catatonic states. It can also make your extremities permanently numb.

GHB or GBL (gamma hydroxybutyrate)

A.K.A.: Liquid X, Georgia Home Boy, Soap, Easy Lay

What it looks like: an odorless, colorless, slightly salty liquid, usually sold in sports bottles.

The High: GBH, and Rohypnol, are commonly known as "date-rape drugs." They can make you horny, enhance intoxication and, often, knock you out into a very deep slow-wave sleep.

What it's doing to your body: GBH is very dose-sensitve. The effects depend on weight, physical condition, how much food in the stomach, etc. ALWAYS err on the side of caution or you will poison yourself. Can cause nausea, cramps, dizziness and respiratory distress.

A few tips that apply to everything:

Water is key. Even if you're not in the mood, a glass of water or better, Gatorade, might be what saves you later.

Carry hard candy with you, or something salty. That little bit of nourishment can keep you level and stave off a hangover.

Don't mix drugs. You could be creating a poison cocktail. And as a rule of thumb, pills and alcohol never mix, nor do booze and downers. It's asking for trouble.

Don't trip alone. Tell your friends what you're on in case something happens to you.

Don't ever drive while high. It's just that simple.

Don't ever hesitate to call 911. You might be underage, you might be on an illegal drug, but if you are in danger, saving yourself is more important than staying out of trouble.

Remember, all of these drugs are illegal, and being convicted of posses- sion can carry long prison sentences.

If you think you or someone you know may have a drug or alcohol abuse problem, call the McMaster Center at 578-3150.

We've mentioned only a few of the bazillion substances out there. Do yourself a favor and check out these Web sites for more information on these and other drugs.


Scientific American Explore! online edition at www.sciam.org

Koch Crime Institute at www.kci.org





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