DEA LAUNCHES WEB SITE TO CURB TEEN DRUG USE
Irma Perez popped ecstasy at a sleepover in California.
The 14-year-old girl got a headache, severe stomach pain, shortness of breath, loss of bladder control and vomited repeatedly.
Instead of calling for help, her friends gave her marijuana, thinking it was medicine and would calm her.
Irma slipped into a coma and died five days later in April 2004. Her brain swelled from a lack of oxygen, authorities said. Five people were convicted in connection with her death.
Federal drug officials hope the story hits teenagers hard enough to deter them from using illegal drugs.
It's part of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Web site -- justthinktwice.com -- launched last week for teens.
"There is no more powerful message for teens than seeing the impact that drugs had on another young life," said DEA Administrator Karen Tandy.
The site includes information on prescription drug abuse, the societal costs of drug use, drug overdoses, the effects of drugs and federal penalties for drug convictions.
Irma's sister, Imelda Perez, is on a crusade to teach teens about the dangers of drugs and travels the country telling her story. The DEA site, she said, "shows young people how their actions have consequences."
DEA agents say the site is needed because teens are getting conflicting information on drugs.
"The site does not inundate the user with DEA messages, rather the facts come straight from leading physicians, scientists and legal experts," said Jeffrey Sweetin, special agent in charge of the DEA in the Rocky Mountain region.
Arthur Dean, chairman and CEO of Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, said the Web page is "a wonderful educational tool."
"This site accurately portrays the real dangers of drugs to our kids and to American society at large," Dean said.