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Internet a new drug source

Drug task force can't keep track of different ways teens get high

By Amy Hebert, Camera Staff Writer
May 5, 2004

Dozens of students at Fairview High School said Tuesday that a classmate's overdose on a mixture of legal and easily obtained drugs isn't surprising given the prevalence of over-the-counter experimentation.

"Kids are experimenting with a lot of things that weren't around when their parents were young," said Alex Martinko, a junior at the south Boulder school.

Martinko and other students said the teen who overdosed remained in a coma Tuesday but had been transferred to a Denver hospital. The teen's parents declined to comment, and Fairview principal Tammy Quist said she would not update the news media on his condition without their permission.

Quist e-mailed parents a warning last week about over-the-counter drug abuse, or Robotripping, saying a student was comatose after an April 23 overdose on a mixture of a common cough-syrup ingredient and the hallucinogenic chemical alpha-methyltryptamine, known as AMT.

But Brianna Morrow, who said she was good friends with the student, said the boy had taken cough syrup while using a legal AMT replacement — 5-Methoxy-alpha-methyltryptamine, known as 5-MeO-AMT — that he may have purchased off the Internet.

Order anything was advertising the drug Tuesday as "ultra pure," and "in-stock, ready for immediate shipment" at the "low price" of $73.90 for 500 milligrams.

"You can just order anything off of there basically," Brianna said of the site.

AMT was made illegal last year, but the more-powerful replacement quickly filled its shoes, according to the "Vaults of Erowid" Web site, which gives information on drugs and documents users' experiences.

The Web site warns that "some users and sellers confuse AMT and 5-MeO-AMT, resulting in dangerous and unpleasant overdoses." Users' reports of mixing 5-MeO-AMT with Dextromethorphan, the active ingredient in many cough suppressants, are titled "Bad Experience" and "A Trip to Hell."

Keeping up with drug trends is nearly impossible given the information and substances readily available on the Internet, said Lt. Steve Prentup, head of the Boulder County Drug Task Force. He said he had never heard of 5-MeO-AMT.

"The Internet has opened up a vast market, both legitimate and illegitimate sources," Prentup said. "People are dabbling, and you can't keep up with it."

He said anyone with a credit card can get "just about anything" online, including tips for abusing and mixing legal substances.

"It's no longer just ecstasy and GHB (a common date-rape and club drug) out there," he said. "It's new stuff, new combos, and the Internet makes it cafeteria style."

'Going to extremes'

As they waited for a ride after school Tuesday, Fairview students Anya Dyurgerova and Jessica Miller said they don't think students looking to get high will quit abusing over-the-counter drugs because of their classmate's overdose.

"Maybe they won't take as much as he did or the same combo, but they won't stop," Anya said.

The girls said students are fairly creative these days when it comes to using drugs without going through traditional, illegal sources.

"People are now going to extremes of finding anything they can get high off," Jessica said.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Amy Hebert at (303) 473-1329 or