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Georgia Drug Threat Assessment
April 2003

Other Dangerous Drugs

Other dangerous drugs (ODDs) pose an increasing threat to Georgia. This category of drugs includes the stimulant MDMA; the hallucinogens LSD and ketamine; the depressant GHB and its analogs; and diverted pharmaceuticals such as hydrocodone (Vicodin), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), oxycodone (OxyContin), and benzodiazepines such as alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium). Among ODDs, OxyContin and MDMA represent the primary threat. Many of these ODDs are abused by middle-class suburban teenagers and young adults. MDMA is increasingly available and abused in Georgia, particularly in the suburbs of Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Macon, and Savannah. Caucasian local independent dealers are the primary wholesale and retail distributors of MDMA, LSD, ketamine, GHB and its analogs, and diverted pharmaceuticals in Georgia. MDMA, LSD, and ketamine, as well as GHB and its analogs generally are sold at raves, nightclubs, and private parties, and on high school and college campuses. Diverted pharmaceuticals generally are sold to acquaintances and established customers.

Raves and Club Drugs

Throughout the 1990s, high energy, all-night dances known as raves, which feature hard-pounding techno-music and flashing laser lights, increased in popularity among teenagers and young adults. Raves occur in most metropolitan areas of the country. They can be held at either permanent dance clubs or temporary "weekend event" sites set up in abandoned warehouses, open fields, empty buildings, or civic centers. Club drugs are a group of synthetic drugs often sold at raves and dance clubs. MDMA is one of the most popular club drugs. Rave managers often sell water, pacifiers, and glow sticks at rave parties. "Ravers" require water to offset dehydration caused by MDMA; use pacifiers to prevent the grinding of teeth, which is a common side effect of using MDMA; and wave glow sticks in front of their eyes because MDMA stimulates light perception.

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The increasing availability and abuse of MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine), particularly among teenagers and young adults, poses an increasing threat to Georgia particularly in the Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Macon, and Savannah suburbs. MDMA, also known as Adam, ecstasy, XTC, E, and X, is a synthetic stimulant and low level hallucinogen. MDMA was patented in 1914 in Germany where it was 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, abusers claim that the drug helps them be more "in touch" with others and "opens channels of communication." However, abuse of the drug can cause psychological problems similar to those associated with methamphetamine and cocaine abuse including confusion, depression, sleeplessness, anxiety, and paranoia. The physical effects can include muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, blurred vision, and increased heart rate and blood pressure. MDMA abuse can also cause a marked increase in body temperature leading to muscle breakdown, kidney failure, cardiovascular system failure, stroke, or seizure as reported in some fatal cases. Research suggests that MDMA abuse may result in long-term and sometimes permanent damage to parts of the brain that are critical to thought and memory.

Most of the MDMA consumed in Georgia is produced outside the United States, typically in laboratories in the Netherlands and Belgium. The MDMA usually is transported via package delivery services and couriers on commercial aircraft through distribution centers such as Los Angeles, Miami, and New York City. Local independent Caucasian distributors based in Georgia frequently travel to Miami to purchase MDMA and return to the area to sell wholesale quantities.

Transporters also use Hartsfield International Airport to smuggle MDMA into the United States. According to USCS, nearly 32 kilograms of MDMA were seized at Hartsfield International Airport in 2001. In February 2001 USCS officials at Hartsfield International Airport seized 1,600 tablets of MDMA concealed in balloons that had been swallowed by a courier traveling from the Netherlands. In August 2000 USCS officials at Hartsfield International Airport seized 11,250 MDMA tablets from a Spanish citizen arriving from Frankfurt, Germany; the tablets were concealed in a package strapped to the man's midsection. Caucasian local independent dealers in Georgia also receive MDMA shipments from wholesale MDMA distributors in California, Louisiana, and Texas via package delivery services.

Local independent dealers, usually Caucasians between the ages of 18 and 25, are the principal wholesale distributors of MDMA in Georgia. However, law enforcement officials in Macon indicate that African American local independent dealers are abusing and distributing MDMA in that city. These dealers usually purchase MDMA from interstate wholesale distributors in 100-tablet quantities for sale to local retail distributors.

Retail level MDMA distributors typically are middle- and upper-class Caucasian high school or college students. They usually distribute the drug at clubs and private parties and on high school and college campuses. At the retail level MDMA sold for $15 to $35 per tablet in Georgia in 2002, according to the DEA Atlanta Division.

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The distribution and abuse of LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) pose a low threat to Georgia due to the drug's limited availability and comparatively low rate of abuse. LSD, also known as acid, boomers, and yellow sunshine, is a hallucinogen that induces abnormalities in sensory perceptions. The effects of LSD are unpredictable depending upon the amount taken, the environment in which it is abused, and the abuser's personality, mood, and expectations. The physical effects include dilated pupils, sweating, loss of appetite, nausea, numbness, weakness, insomnia, dry mouth, tremors, and increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Such effects can last up to 12 hours. Two long-term disorders associated with LSD are persistent psychosis and hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (flashbacks).

LSD typically is taken orally and is available in powdered and liquid forms, in tablets or capsules, and on small candies and pieces of blotter paper. Most abusers are high school and college age individuals. Treatment providers in Atlanta indicate an increase in the number of LSD abusers among adolescents and teens. Some abusers hide liquid LSD in breath mint vials or eyedrop bottles. Law enforcement officials in DeKalb County report that LSD sometimes is distributed in small gelatin squares in their area. The squares are formed by mixing the LSD with food coloring and gelatin then spreading the solution on a beveled plastic sheet (similar to the design and type of plastic used as a cover on fluorescent lights).

Most LSD available in the state is produced in northern California and transported to Georgia using package delivery services. Local independent Caucasian dealers, primarily college and high school students, are the principal wholesale and retail distributors of LSD in the state. In 2001 the Atlanta High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) reported that LSD sold for approximately $1,000 for a 1,000-dosage-unit sheet, and a single dosage unit or "hit" sold for $4 to $10 in 2001. LSD can be purchased at gyms, dance clubs, nightclubs, raves, private parties, high school and college campuses, and over the Internet. Law enforcement officials in Atlanta report that LSD is available in some clubs that cater to teens and young adults.



The threat associated with the abuse and distribution of ketamine is low in Georgia. Ketamine, also known as K, special K, vitamin K, and cat valium, is an injectable anesthetic that is approved for both human and animal use. Ketamine is sold commercially and is produced in liquid, powdered, and tablet forms. The liquid form is injected intramuscularly. Liquid ketamine is sometimes converted to powdered ketamine and placed in capsules. In its powdered form ketamine resembles cocaine or methamphetamine and often is snorted or smoked with marijuana or tobacco products.

Low-dose intoxication from ketamine may result in impaired attention, learning ability, and memory; dissociation, which includes out-of-body and near-death experiences; and hallucinations. High doses of ketamine can cause delirium, amnesia, impaired motor function, high blood pressure, depression, and potentially fatal respiratory problems. Ketamine abusers in the United States and the United Kingdom have reported incidents similar to bad LSD trips. Some abusers try to fly or jump from moving vehicles.

Local independent dealers based in Georgia and Florida supply most of the ketamine available in Georgia. Some distributors and abusers break into veterinary clinics to steal the drug. Local independent Caucasian dealers are the principal wholesale and retail distributors of the drug in Georgia. Young adults, primarily Caucasians, are the principal abusers of ketamine in Georgia. Retail distributors sell ketamine at raves and other social venues or to known associates. In 2001 ketamine sold for $20 per 50 milligrams in Georgia.

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GHB and Analogs

The threat posed by GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) and its analogs--GBL, BD, GVL, and GHV--is low but increasing in Georgia. GHB, also known as liquid MDMA, scoop, grievous bodily harm, and Georgia homeboy, is a depressant that occurs naturally in the body and is necessary for full functioning of the brain and central nervous system. GHB analogs are drugs that possess chemical structures that closely resemble GHB. Users of GHB and its analogs may experience insomnia, anxiety, tremors, and sweating. Abuse of GHB and its analogs also may cause drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, loss of consciousness, impaired breathing, and death. These drugs increasingly are cited in poisonings, overdoses, sexual assaults, and fatalities in Georgia and nationwide. Using GHB or its analogs in combination with methamphetamine increases the risk of seizures.

GHB and its analogs are available in Georgia primarily at social venues such as bars, nightclubs, raves, and on high school and college campuses. GHB analogs also are available at some disreputable health food stores, gyms, and via the Internet. Young adults, usually Caucasians, are the principal distributors and abusers of the drugs. According to the DEA Atlanta Division, liquid GHB sold for $500 to $1,000 per gallon and for $15 to $20 per dosage unit in 2001. A capful, typically the size of the cap from a small water bottle, is the most common dosage unit at the retail level.

GHB Analogs

Analog Chemical/Alternative Name
furanone di-hydro
1,4 butanediol
tetramethylene glycol
butylene glycol

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Diverted Pharmaceuticals

Diverted pharmaceuticals frequently are abused in Georgia. Oxycodone, primarily OxyContin, was the most commonly diverted pharmaceutical in Georgia in 2002. Hydrocodone (Vicodin), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), and benzodiazepines (Xanax and Valium) also were diverted, but to a lesser extent. Oxycodone is a synthetic opioid analgesic used for relieving moderate to severe pain. It is similar to hydrocodone but is more potent and has a greater abuse potential. Hydrocodone is an opioid analgesic used to relieve moderate to moderately severe pain. Hydromorphone is an opioid used to relieve pain by acting on specific areas of the spinal cord and brain that process pain signals from nerves throughout the body. Benzodiazepines are minor tranquilizers that reduce stress and anxiety, relax muscles, and induce sleep.

Pharmaceutical Diversion Methods

Pharmaceuticals are diverted by prescription drug abusers and dealers through various methods. Prescription drug abusers and dealers often divert pharmaceuticals through "doctor shopping," a practice by which individuals who may or may not have a legitimate ailment visit numerous physicians to obtain drugs in excess of what should legitimately be prescribed. Prescription drug abusers and dealers also steal drugs by robbing pharmacies or the homes of legitimate prescription holders. Dealers and abusers also may forge prescriptions by stealing blank prescription papers from physicians or altering the writing on prescriptions. Pharmacy employees also may divert drugs by intentionally filling fraudulent prescriptions or stealing pharmaceuticals directly from the shelves. Some unscrupulous physicians may also contribute to pharmaceutical diversion by prescribing unnecessary medications, sometimes for a fee or for sexual favors.

The diversion and abuse of oxycodone, primarily OxyContin, represent the most significant pharmaceutical drug threat to Georgia. According to the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency, abuse of OxyContin, also known as Oxys or OCs, is the fastest-growing drug threat to northern Georgia, and law enforcement officials in Macon indicate that OxyContin is the greatest prescription drug threat in their jurisdiction. Diverted OxyContin is becoming increasingly available in central and southern Georgia as well. Law enforcement officials and treatment providers report that OxyContin, once predominantly abused by lower-income, middle-age individuals, increasingly is being abused by middle-class individuals, and the average age of abusers is decreasing. OxyContin abusers crush the tablets to destroy the controlled-release properties, then snort or inject the drug. The resulting physiological effects are similar to those caused by heroin. A 20-milligram tablet of OxyContin sells for approximately $20.

Hydrocodone (Vicodin), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), and benzodiazepines (Xanax and Valium) also are diverted and abused in Georgia, but to a lesser extent than oxycodone. Law enforcement officials and treatment professionals in Georgia report that crack cocaine abusers occasionally abuse these prescription drugs to ameliorate the negative effects of crack cocaine. The Community Epidemiology Work Group reports that benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax are now being abused in crack houses in Atlanta.

Caucasian local independent dealers are the principal distributors of diverted pharmaceuticals in Georgia. Retail distributors often sell diverted pharmaceuticals to acquaintances and established customers. 


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