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New Hampshire Drug Threat Assessment
Other Dangerous Drugs
The other dangerous drugs (ODD) category includes club drugs, hallucinogens, and illegally diverted pharmaceuticals. According to law enforcement sources, young adults are the principal abusers of other dangerous drugs in New Hampshire. MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine), primarily abused at all-night parties known as raves, is the most frequently abused and widely available drug in this category. Raves are reported with increasingly greater frequency throughout areas of southern New Hampshire. Ketamine, legitimately used as an animal tranquilizer, is frequently stolen from veterinary offices throughout New Hampshire. LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), after a decline in popularity, is making a comeback, due in part to the popularity of certain music groups whose groupies are distributing LSD at concerts. Typically, independent dealers, primarily Caucasians, are the primary distributors of club drugs and hallucinogens in the state.
Figure 4. New Hampshire rave locations.
Source: DEA, State Threat Assessment-New Hampshire, October 1999.
MDMA, also called Adam, ecstasy, XTC, E, or X, is a synthetic, psychoactive drug with amphetamine-like and hallucinogenic properties. MDMA was patented in Germany in 1914 and was sometimes given to psychiatric patients to assist in psychotherapy. This practice was never approved by the American Psychological Association or the Food and Drug Administration. Sometimes called the "hug drug," users claim that MDMA makes them feel good. However, use of the drug may cause psychological difficulties similar to those associated with methamphetamine and cocaine abuse, including confusion, depression, sleep problems, anxiety, and paranoia. The physical effects include muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, blurred vision, and increased heart rate and blood pressure.
MDMA taken in high doses can be extremely dangerous. It can cause a marked increase in body temperature leading to muscle breakdown and kidney and cardiovascular system failure. MDMA use may lead to heart attacks, strokes, and seizures, as reported in some fatal cases at raves. Recent research links MDMA to long term, possibly permanent damage to parts of the brain that are critical to thought and memory. There is also evidence that individuals who develop a rash after using MDMA may risk severe liver damage or other serious side effects.
Users abuse MDMA for its combination of stimulant and hallucinogenic effects.
According to DEA estimates, about 80 percent of the MDMA consumed worldwide is produced in laboratories in the Netherlands and Belgium. However, authorities have seized MDMA laboratories in various other European countries and, to a much lesser extent, in the United States. Israeli and Russian organized crime syndicates control a significant share of the European MDMA market, and, at present, the Israeli syndicates are the primary source for U.S. distribution groups.
MDMA distribution crosses national, state, and local boundaries. Transporters ship huge amounts of MDMA pills into the United States by air, concealed in couriers' luggage and express mail packages. Wholesale level distributors repackage the pills into bundles for distribution to midlevel traffickers. The bundles of pills are then reduced further and distributed to young people who sell individual pills in clubs or on college campuses.
The availability of MDMA in user quantities is increasing within New Hampshire, and the New Hampshire State Police has reported a surge especially popular among college students, who generally abuse it at raves. Users often mix or store the drug with small multicolored candies to camouflage the tablets during door inspections at rave parties. Law enforcement officials report rave parties in Dover, Manchester, Nashua, and Portsmouth and respondents to the NDIC National Drug Threat Survey 2000 revealed an increase in rave crowds in southern New Hampshire. MDMA available in the seacoast area is obtained from sources of supply in New York, New York.
Ketamine, also called Cat Valiums, K, Special K, and Vitamin K, is commercially sold as Ketalar. It is an injectable anesthetic that has been approved for both human and animal use. Ketamine is produced in liquid, powder, or pill form. Ketamine in its liquid form can be injected intramuscularly or intravenously, but it can also be made into a pill or powder by evaporating the liquid. Ketamine, in its powder form, can be mistaken for cocaine or methamphetamine and is often snorted or smoked with marijuana or tobacco products.
At high 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. Short term use of ketamine causes hallucinations; its major effect is disassociation, which includes out-of-body and near-death experiences. Ketamine gained popularity among abusers in the 1980s when it was discovered that large doses caused reactions similar to those experienced with PCP (phencyclidine). Ketamine abusers in the United States and the United Kingdom have reported incidents similar to bad LSD trips. While under the influence of ketamine, they may believe they can fly or may attempt to exit moving vehicles.
Ketamine, legitimately used as an animal tranquilizer, was the drug most often diverted in a large number of veterinary office break-ins throughout New Hampshire. Nineteen states, including New Hampshire, now regulate ketamine. In August 1999, it became a Schedule III substance under the Federal Controlled Substances Act.
Ketamine is diverted from legitimate sources, with no reports of illegal production in New Hampshire. Veterinarians pay $7 for a vial of ketamine that converts into a gram of powder. Illicit drug wholesalers pay $30 to $45, and drug users pay $100 to $200 for an equivalent amount. Single ketamine doses (called bumps) of about 0.2 grams sell for $20 to $40. Ketamine is usually sold through networks of friends and associates; street sales are rare. Distributors now are obtaining larger amounts of ketamine from foreign countries through express mail services. On May 25, 2000, authorities seized approximately 1 kilogram of ketamine that was sent by express mail from China through Alaska to New Hampshire.
LSD, also known as acid, boomers, and yellow sunshines, is a hallucinogen that induces abnormalities in sensory perceptions. The effects of LSD are unpredictable; they depend on the amount taken, the environment in which it is used, and the user's personality, mood, and expectations. Users may feel the effects within 30 to 90 minutes. 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. Two long-term disorders associated with LSD are persistent psychosis and hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (flashbacks).
LSD is available in blotter form throughout New England; wholesale quantities occasionally are available. Distributors sell LSD on the streets in tablet, capsule, and liquid form. The drug, usually taken orally, is odorless, colorless, and tasteless.
LSD continues to grow in popularity. Although only sporadically available in the past, New Hampshire has seen an increase in availability of the drug. Federal authorities have initiated several investigations. In a 1999 Portsmouth Police Department investigation, DEA agents and members of the New Hampshire Drug Task Force purchased 900 dosage units of LSD and negotiated for a future purchase of 5,000 dosage units from a resident of Brentwood, New Hampshire. The current price for LSD ranges from $150 to $200 per 100 dosage units. Street dosage units cost $4.
LSD available in the state is produced in California and is transported primarily through express mail services. LSD, after a decline in popularity, is making a comeback due in part to the popularity of certain music groups. New Hampshire law enforcement reports an increase in availability during rock concerts. They believe rock groupies carry the drug into New Hampshire as they tour with certain bands.
DXM (dextromethorphan) is a cough suppressant that in high doses acts like ketamine, causing nausea, itchy skin, visual and auditory hallucinations, and loss of motor control. The drug does not produce energy, but, instead, relaxes users.
The Rochester Police Department seized a bag of white powdered DXM on October 4, 2000. Officers also found empty bottles of Robitussin, which contains DXM, at abandoned rave sites.
Diversion of pharmaceuticals involves the theft of controlled substances from registrants, indiscriminate prescribing and dispensing by practitioners and pharmacists, and general laxity in record keeping and drug security on the part of some registrants. In New Hampshire, combinations of narcotics and benzodiazepines are the most frequently diverted controlled substances. Diverted pharmaceuticals are moderately available in New Hampshire. In 1999, New Hampshire recorded 28 felony indictments, and 1 medical board referral, which resulted in a surrendered license, for illegal diversion of pharmaceuticals.
Table 4. Diverted Pharmaceutical Prices, New Hampshire, 1999
Source: DEA, State Threat Assessment-New Hampshire, October 1999.
While prescription pain relievers and tranquilizers are the preferred pharmaceuticals for adult abusers, Ritalin is quickly becoming the pharmaceutical of choice among high school and junior high school students in New Hampshire. Ritalin, a prescription drug used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder, has similar effects to speed when snorted. Authorities believe that students with legitimate prescriptions now are selling the drug for a substantial profit.
A recent overdose death in northern New Hampshire may be an indication that OxyContin is being diverted for illicit use. In this incident, authorities report that a nurse may be responsible for diverting the drug. Also, in Conway, New Hampshire, law enforcement reports an increasing OxyContin problem. In 2000, 14 young adults were arrested for attempting to obtain OxyContin with bogus prescriptions.
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