Pubdate: Tue, 7 Dec 1999
Source: USA Today (US)
Copyright: 1999 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
Contact:  1000 Wilson Blvd., Arlington VA 22229
Fax: (703) 247-3108
Author: Robert Davis, USA TODAY


Federal drug researchers are mounting an Internet offensive to combat what
they say is misleading Web data on "club drugs."

Club drugs - Ecstasy, GHB and ketamine - are often considered harmless by
young partyers using them at dance clubs and all-night parties called raves.

Internet sites have cropped up that show drugs on the tip of a woman's
tongue, detail how to make the drugs at home or suggest dosage levels.

GHB, gamma hydroxybutrate, is linked to sexual assaults. It's booming on
the Web. "This is the Internet drug," says Jim Hall of the Miami Coalition
for a Safe and Drug-Free Community. Some Web sites promote "safe use."

"There is no such thing,'' says Kevin Sabet, a University of California,
Berkeley, student who is trying to warn other college students of the
risks. "There is no peer review of this information. It's just out there on
the Internet."

Alarmed by 34 deaths and a rising number of emergency room visits related
to these drugs, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has launched
its own site at to publish some of the scientific
research on the effects of the drugs. Scientists worry that the drugs give
users the wrong impression. Because the effects of some of the club drugs
wear off with less discomfort than an intoxicating amount of alcohol, users
feel they've done no harm to their bodies.

"They don't wake up feeling like they've been hit with a sledgehammer,"
says Alan Leshner, NIDA's director.

But using advanced scanning techniques in human test subjects who have
taken club drugs, scientists have found alarming damage to the brain's
serotonin pathway. Serotonin is thought to play a key role in mood and
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