Academic journal article International Journal of Child and Adolescent Health

Date Rape Drugs

Academic journal article International Journal of Child and Adolescent Health

Date Rape Drugs

Article excerpt

Introduction

Hallucinogens are a broad category of drugs generally thought to alter the user's view of reality by affecting sensory perception, mood, and cognition. These drugs can be both natural and synthetic in origin. When individuals are under the influence of these substances, they can have visual and auditory hallucinations, and feel sensory stimuli that do not exist. The user can also experience extreme emotional lability. Different types of hallucinogens have been used throughout history in both ritualistic and religious activities. Initially, hallucinogens were naturally derived from plants, but in 1938 the first synthetic one, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), was synthesized by Swiss chemist, Albert Hofmann (1906-2008) (1,19)

Although the use of LSD has been declining in recent years, it is still the prototypical hallucinogenic drug and has been the most closely studied. Since its initial creation, numerous other synthetic hallucinogens have been produced. These drugs are sometimes created for medical use, such as for anesthesia, but many times they are used in an illicit nature. The synthetic and natural occurring hallucinogens are often used at clubs, raves, and parties, and thus are also referred to as "club drugs" (1,7,19). Because of their psychotropic properties, some of these drugs are used to facilitate date rape and are thus termed "date rape drugs". Many of these hallucinogenic drugs have been banned in the United States, because of the illicit nature in which they are being used. Yet, there are still some medications that are used in a very controlled manner within the medical community.

The classification of specific compounds into different categories (hallucinogens, club drugs, and date rape drugs) vary based on the source and there can be overlap between categories. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) (1), the specific drugs classified as hallucinogens include LSD, Peyote cactus (Mescaline), Psilocybin and Phencyclidine (PCP) (15). Salvia divinorun, 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine (MDMA) , ketamine, and methamphetamine are often added to this category as well. (16) The Club Drugs, according to NIDA, include γ-Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), flunatrizepam, ketamine, MDMA (Ecstasy), Methamphetamine and LSD (17,18). The drugs commonly described as date rape drugs are GHB, flunitrazepam, and ketamine, although others listed above have been implicated in cases of date rape, as well (17).

Hallucinogens

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)

LSD ("Blotter Acid", "Acid", "Dots", "Pane", "Zen", "Mellow Yellow", "Window Pane") was the first synthetic hallucinogen and was created initially for medical applications. Its hallucinogenic properties were accidently discovered later. Abuse was widespread in the 1960's but is currently declining. All LSD manufacturing in US is illegal, as it has no accepted medical use (2,15).

Initially, LSD is clear or white in appearance and is odorless. When the drug degrades, it discolors. LSD is initially produced in a crystalline form and can be taken orally as a pill or liquid. In liquid form, it is commonly added to blotter paper in different colors and shapes, with each shape representing its own dose. Color is often added to mask the purity and age of the drug. The typical recreational dose is 25-80 mcg, but can range up to 250 mcg as tolerance develops (19).

The exact mechanism of action is unknown for LSD, but it is believed to involve the interaction of numerous neurotransmitters including serotonin (5-HT), glutamate and dopamine. Its effects are most prominent in the cerebral cortex and locus ceruleus (10,19). The cerebral cortex is the area involved in mood, cognition and perception. The locus ceruleus receives sensory signals and is the "novelty detector" for external stimuli. LSD is considered one of the most potent mood and perception-altering drugs in existence. It can cause a heightened sensory input, time distortion, euphoria, synesthesia (blending of senses, such as hearing colors or seeing sounds), out of body experiences, visual illusions, and expansiveness. …

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