The idea of new designer drugs surfacing on Duke's campus may be a dizzying concept for most students, because 2C users at Duke said their community keeps a low profile.
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But Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta sent an e-mail to undergraduates Jan. 21 that mentioned the presence of "C2" drugs in the Duke community.
Tom Szigethy, associate dean and director of the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Center, said he had notified Moneta of the drugs' presence, noting that the psychedelic drug family Moneta meant to refer to is actually called 2C. Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek said 2C drugs first became a concern during Winter Break.
A Residence Coordinator was first notified of their existence on campus, Szigethy said. He noted that they are attractive to students because their recent creation leaves them free of legal penalties. Szigethy emphasized, however, that the drugs' negative ramifications are grave.
"The purpose of higher education is to educate the brain to higher capacity. What these drugs do is the exact opposite," Szigethy said.
He said use of 2C drugs cause the brain to become reliant on a substance to attain certain moods, ultimately stunting its growth. Szigethy noted that the drugs' purity makes them particularly dangerous, but the main threat to users is that the drugs' creator and contents are usually unknown, because dealers are financially motivated.
Although 2C drugs have not been studied extensively, there are documented cases of alterations in reality perception that persist after the period of intoxication, said Jeff Kulley, coordinator of Clinical Services and liaison for Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services for Counseling and Psychological Services.
Kulley noted that the drugs are perceived as safe because much of the information that is publicly available on 2C drugs comes from their proponents-who include little information on the drugs' risks.
David, a student whose name has been changed to protect his identity and who has used 2C-I and 2C-E, said no one he knows has experienced long-term psychological side effects from the drugs.
He said although the "trip" itself is at times unpleasant, lasting between six and eight hours, 2C drugs have helped him resolve personality problems. He noted that people using 2C drugs usually report having breakthroughs in the way they see themselves and the world.
"You know it's just a chemical you have taken a few hours earlier, but it presents itself as a great transubstantiation, a spiritual experience," David said. "My personal theory is that it stimulates the brain's natural neuroplastic capacities."
David said the 2C experience was impossible to generalize, but his was one where "form and content became indistinguishable." He added that users of 2C drugs study them rigorously because dosages must be calculated carefully.
Andrew, another student whose name has been changed to protect his identity, said 2C drugs gave him the revelation that his everyday worries and struggles were unimportant to his overall happiness and connectedness with the world.
"I would in no way say that it was something people should use frequently, or that it is something people would want to use frequently," Andrew said.
David said 2C drugs are used by a discrete subculture within the Duke community.
"You're not going to come across it," he said. "It may, in the future, spread beyond its consumer base and be used by other groups. But right now, it's not another ecstasy epidemic."
Moneta said campus policy on 2C drugs has yet to be decided, but added that Szigethy will advise him on the issue.
A single alert of the drug's presence does not signify any trend at Duke, Moneta said. But he noted that 2C drugs are appearing on campuses across the country.
"I thought this would be a good time to get ahead of the problem," Moneta said. "I wanted [that paragraph of the e-mail] to be a casual heads-up for those who may come across this in the future. I wanted students to understand that [2C drugs] are not safe."
By: Chrissy DiNicola
Issue date: 2/2/09 Section: News
Last update: 2/2/09 at 5:06 AM EST
The Duke Chronicle Online
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