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Rave Culture and Club Drug Awareness

According to information received from local law enforcement agencies, other military services, and our own units, there are alarming indications of increasing popularity and use of some very dangerous substances known collectively as designer drugs or “Club Drugs.” These terms refer to drugs being used by young adults at all-night dance parties such as “Raves” or “Trances,” dance clubs, and bars. MDMA (Ecstasy), Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate, Rohypnol, Ketamine, Methamphetamine, and LSD are some of the club or party drugs gaining popularity. Research conducted by various agencies and supported by the National Institute of Drug Abuse has shown that use of club drugs can cause serious health problems and, in some cases, even death. Used in combination with alcohol, these drugs can be even more dangerous. Thus, we are issuing this ALCOAST to aid commanding officers and officers-in-charge in identifying and responding to this threat to the health and safety of their personnel.

Some of the facts about these club drugs are:

Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA): MDMA slang or street names include Ecstasy, XTC, X, Adam, Clarity and Lovers Speed. MDMA was developed and patented in the early 1900s as a chemical precursor in the synthesis of pharmaceuticals. Chemically, MDMA is similar to the stimulant Amphetamine and the Hallucinogen Mescaline. MDMA can produce both stimulant and psychedelic effects.

Methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) and Methylenedioxyethylamphetamine (MDEA) are drugs chemically similar to MDMA. MDMA is taken orally, usually in a tablet or a capsule. MDMAs effects last approximately 3 to 6 hours, though confusion, depression, sleep problems, anxiety, and paranoia have been reported to occur even weeks after the drug is taken. MDMA can produce a significant increase in heart rate and blood pressure and a sense of alertness like that associated with Amphetamine use. The stimulant effects of MDMA, which enable users to dance for extended periods, may also lead to dehydration, hypertension, and heart or kidney failure. MDMA can be extremely dangerous in high doses. It can cause a marked increase in body temperature leading to the breakdown of muscle tissue and kidney and cardiovascular systems. MDMA use may also lead to heart attacks, strokes, and seizures in some users.

Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB): GHB slange or street names include Grievous Bodily Harm, G, Liquid Ecstasy and Georgia Home Boy. GHB can be produced in clear liquid, white powder, tablet, and capsule forms, and it is often used in combination with alcohol, making it even more dangerous. GHB has been increasingly involved in poisonings, overdoses, “Date Rapes,” and fatalities. Adolescents and young adults use the drug predominantly, often when they attend nightclubs and Raves. GHB is often manufactured in homes with recipes and ingredients found and purchased on the internet. GHB is usually abused either for its intoxicating/sedative/euphoriant properties or for its growth hormone-releasing effects, which can build muscles. Some individuals are synthesizing GHB in home laboratories. Ingredients in GHB, Gamma-Butyrolactone (GBL) and Butanediol, can also be converted by the body into GHB. These ingredients are found in a number of dietary supplements available in health food stores and gymnasiums to induce sleep, build muscles, and enhance sexual performance. GHB is a central nervous system depressant that can relax or sedate the body. At higher doses it can slow breathing and heart rate to dangerous levels. GHBs intoxicating effects begin 10 to 20 minutes after the drug is taken. The effects typically last up to 4 hours, depending on the dosage. At increased doses, the sedative effects may result in sleep and eventual coma or death. An overdose of GHB can occur rather quickly, and the signs are similar to those of other sedatives: drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, headache, loss of consciousness, loss of reflexes, impaired breathing, and ultimately death.

Ketamine: Ketamine slang or street names include Special K, K, Vitamin K and Cat Valiums. Ketamine is an injectable anesthetic that has been approved for both human and animal use in medical settings since 1970. About 90 percent of the Ketamine legally sold today is intended for veterinary use. Ketamine gained popularity for abuse in the 1980s, when it was realized that large doses cause reactions similar to those associated with the use of phencyclidine (PCP), such as dreamlike states and hallucinations. At higher doses, Ketamine can cause delirium, amnesia, impaired motor function, high blood pressure, depression, and potentially fatal respiratory problems. Low-dose intoxication from Ketamine results in impaired attention, learning ability, and memory loss. Ketamine is produced in liquid form or as a white powder that is often snorted or smoked with marijuana or tobacco products.

Rohypnol: Rohypnol slang or street names include Roofies, Rophies, Roche and Forget-Me Pill. Rohypnol (Flunitrazepam) belongs to the class of drugs known as Benzodiazepines (such as Valium, Halcion, Xanax, and Versed). Rohypnol is tasteless and odorless, and it dissolves easily in carbonated beverages. The sedative and toxic effects of Rohypnol are aggravated by concurrent use of alcohol. Even without alcohol, a dose of Rohypnol as small as 1 mg can impair a victim for 8 to 12 hours. Rohypnol is usually taken orally, although there are reports that it can be ground up and snorted. The drug can cause profound “Anterograde Amnesia” that is, individuals may not remember events they experienced while under the effects of the drug. This may be why one of the street names for Rohypnol is “The Forget-Me Pill” and it has been reportedly used in sexual assaults. Other adverse effects associated with Rohypnol include decreased blood pressure, drowsiness, visual disturbances, dizziness, confusion, gastrointestinal disturbances, and urinary retention.

Methamphetamine: Methamphetamine slang or street names include Speed, Ice, Chalk, Meth, Crystal, Crank and Fire Glass. Methamphetamine is a toxic, addictive stimulant that affects many areas of the central nervous system. The drug is often made in clandestine laboratories from relatively inexpensive over-the-counter ingredients. It is being used by diverse groups, including young adults who attend Raves, in many regions of the country. Available in many forms, Methamphetamine can be smoked, snorted, injected, or orally ingested. Methamphetamine is a white, odorless, bitter-tasing crystalline powder that easily dissolves in beverages. Methamphetamine is not sold in the same way as many other illicit drugs. It is typically sold through networks, not on the street. Methamphetamine use is associated with serious health consequences, including memory loss, aggression, violence, psychotic behavior, and potential cardiac and neurological damage. Methamphetamine abusers typically display signs of agitation, excited speech, decreased appetite, and increased physical activity levels. Methamphetamine is neurotoxic. Methamphetamine use can contribute to higher rates of transmission of infectious diseases, especially Hepatitis and HIV/AIDS.

Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD): LSD slang or street names include Acid, Boomers an d Yellow Sunshines. LSD is a Hallucinogen. It induces abnormalities in sensory perceptions. The effects of LSD are unpredictable depending on the amount taken, on the surroundings in which the drug is used, and on the users personality, mood, and expectations. LSD is typically taken by mouth. It is sold in tablet, capsule, and liquid forms as well as in pieces of blotter paper that have absorbed the drug. Typically an LSD user feels the effects of the drug 30 to 90 minutes after taking it. The physical effects include dilated pupils, higher body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, sweating, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, dry mouth, and tremors. LSD users report numbness, weakness, or trembling, and nausea is common. There are two long-term disorders associated with LSD: persistent psychosis and Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (which used to be called “Flashbacks”).

Rave Paraphernalia consists of many common items such as:

Light sticks: These are used to enhance the visual experience while on drugs. The individuals see “Trails” of light.

Pacifiers: Rave drugs tend to cause the user to grind their teeth. The Pacifier prevents this.

Dust Mask and Vicks Vapo-Rub: These are combined to enhance the effects of the designer drugs. The Vicks is placed under the nose. The Mask is used to keep the Rub from dissipating.

Its important for Commands to realize that its users view club drugs as social and non-threatening. Young adults believe club drugs can harmlessly enhance their experience at dance parties and “Raves.” As shown in this ALCOAST, club drugs can have serious, if not deadly, side effects.

Although the Coast Guards drug testing data does not show a significant usage of club drugs, results of CGI investigations and evidence from the field provide reasonable cause for concern. The Coast Guard has a zero tolerance policy on the use of illegal drugs by its members. Also, as a law enforcement agency, the Coast Guard cannot condone a life-style that supports the use of illegal drugs. The Coast Guard maintains its high standards through our urinalysis program that uses state-of-the-art technology. This technology allows the Coast Guard to test for a variety of drugs including club drugs. Drug testing may be most effective when testing is conducted at times least expected, such as weekend mornings. Members testing positive for illegal drugs are subject to administrative and/or disciplinary actions. The use of illegal drugs violates Article 112A of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Drug users may be subject to punitive discharges, prison or both and the loss of military benefits and privileges.

Commanding Officers and Officers-In-Charge are encouraged to educate their personnel on the contents of this ALCOAST. Because of the rapid metabolite of club drugs, it is recommended that Commands consider conducting more frequent urinalysis sweeps and should note that conducting random urinalysis on weekends and Mondays will aid efforts to identify members that are using drugs. As a measure to curtail the illicit drug use and ensure random urinalysis efforts identifies individuals using illicit substances. It is imperative that stringent protocols governing random urinalysis are adhered to. All efforts to ensure members are not using masking agents or tampering with urine specimens should be taken.

For information or to schedule training concerning the dangers of drug usage and the “Rave” party phenomenon, contact your MLC Substance Abuse Prevention Teams at MLCLANT (757) 856-2205 or MLCPAC (707) 765-7324. For more information about the hazards of club drugs, visit the following: www.dea.gov, www.nida.nih.gov, www.health.org, www.drugfreeamerica.org, www.clubdrugs.org.red ribbon icon


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