I Want a New Drug

Users call it G, Scoop, Goop, EZLay, Georgia Home Boy, or just plain old GHB. What's it like? Euphoric… and potentially deadly.

"Then I went into my room, and the other guy was there, and he started having sex with me. Each time I kept coming to, one of them was on top of me. It was traumatic, the most horrible thing…," she remembers.

Laura was first introduced to G through a friend who lauded it as a fat-burner. Laura claims she lost 20 pounds in three weeks after starting daily dosages. She also used it as a substitute for the painkillers she'd take for her migraines. "But then I liked it a little toooo much," she says. "It would make me feel euphoric, just really, really good. And I couldn't get it anywhere. It was really hard to find."

So she became resourceful and purchased a GHB kit on the Internet from somewhere in Canada. The $200 kit came with GHB's two essential and legal chemicals: gamma butryolactone, a commonly used solvent, and sodium hydroxide, also known as ordinary lye. Also lifted from the Internet was her recipe, which she still has jotted down in an old journal. She lights a Marlboro, hunches over, and reads the recipe out loud in a sing-songy voice.

"You have to have activated charcoal, a gallon of distilled water, white vinegar, a one-liter soda bottle, three metal spoons, and pH test strips. You know, with color chart?"

The pH strips are crucial and are used after combining the gamma butryolactone, lye, and distilled water in a glass dish. Home-mixers dip the strips into the mixture and then scrutinize the accompanying pH color chart, which ranges from 1 to 10. Venture too high on the scale, and the sodium hydroxide will dissolve skin, hair, clothing, paint, and even a few plastics.

"You have to get to pH 7. That's neutral. If it's not, don't touch it. Just throw it out. It could really burn your insides; it'll kill you," she warns.

Laura popped her chemical casserole into the oven at 180 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes, with a shot of vinegar thrown in afterward, until the pH strip tested at 7. Then she let it cool to room temperature, poured it into the soda bottle, and added some of the charcoal. The rest of the bottle she filled with water, shaking the brew every ten minutes for an hour and a half, then poured it through a coffee filter to sift out the gunk.

The final product was too unsavory and concentrated to swallow, so she'd dilute it with grape Kool-Aid. She says the gallon would last her about three weeks on average, and she'd take capfuls from the moment she awoke to right before she fell asleep. She also sold her goods to friends. A full 16-ounce water bottle went for $80, but she'd sell half and even quarter bottles for $10 an ounce. Each sale was accompanied by her handwritten caveats about potency, dosage, and avoiding booze. She never sold to anyone she didn't know and never without "instructions."

"I had seen what happened to some people, and I was afraid. I didn't want that to happen to any of my friends. I didn't want them hurting themselves or passing out in the car," she says. Her high times ended after using the drug for a brief six months.

Laura's recollection of her assaults is patchy. She remembers pushing the men off her, asking them to stop, saying that she didn't want to do this. She remembers waking up the next morning with knees so skinned and bloodied, she was forced to wrap them in bandages. She doesn't recall how they got that way, but she still has a small scar on each one. The experience terrified her, and she cut ties with the people with whom she dosed. And with GHB.

"That pretty much ended my going out to clubs all the time and to parties. After that night I poured it all out. I had half a gallon left, but I told myself never again," she says. "I never touched it again."This past February President Clinton signed the Hillory J. Farias and Samantha Reid Date-Rape Drug Prohibition Act of 2000. Farias was a 17-year-old teenager who died in her sleep in 1996 after someone allegedly slipped GHB into her Sprite at a Texas club. A 15-year-old from Michigan, Reid died in January 1999 after four males allegedly poisoned the ninth grader at a party.The act added GHB to other Schedule 1 substances, like MDMA (Ecstasy), heroin, LSD, and marijuana, all of which federal officials have deemed drugs with high abuse potential. The law still allows for ongoing research into GHB's potential as a treatment for narcolepsy. The act also made it a federal crime to possess, make, or sell GHB or GBL, with up to 20 years' incarceration waiting for infractors and life sentences for those linked to GHB deaths.

Still, the legislative deterrent is not enough. At least not in Florida, where the numbers of GHB-related date rapes, overdoses, and trips to the emergency room are steadily climbing. So much so that two years ago the state took its own stance and ranked GHB a controlled substance along with cocaine and amphetamines. While Florida's drug czar, Jim McDonough, puts the number of statewide deaths caused by the singular use of GHB at 8, he claims that, in more than 70 cases, GHB or other club drugs were found during autopsies over the last three years. McDonough says the figures are underreported. One reason could be that GHB is not easily detectable in routine toxicology screenings: Emergency rooms often miss the drug's presence because it leaves the body in approximately 12 hours.

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