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  1. Alfa
    TRENDY PARTYGOERS QUAFF DATE-RAPE DRUG


    VANCOUVER -- Favoured by predators as a date-rape drug, GHB has found a niche among party-goers looking for a cheap, fast way to loosen their inhibitions and charge their libido.


    The potent liquid is the house-party drug of the moment among young club-goers in Vancouver.


    "Here's a drink that's similar to alcohol but it has some unique advantages," RCMP Constable Scott Rintoul said. "It doesn't cause hangovers. It's inexpensive. It has no calories," so it appeals to young women concerned about their weight.


    "The downside is you can pass out and die," the drug-awareness officer said. And women can be assaulted.


    Users have found that there's a fine line between a GHB-induced high and a coma. In Britain, it's been dubbed "coma in a bottle" after a rash of near-deaths among young night clubbers who collapsed on dance floors after ingesting too much.


    "If you consume a very small amount, you can experience the same amount of euphoria as four or five drinks," said Constable Anne Drennan, a spokeswoman for the Vancouver Police. "The problem is, it's very difficult to know how much is too much."


    A Vancouver father of a three-year-old girl got a lesson last weekend on how dangerously potent the drug is when his daughter took a sip from his water bottle.


    The water was laced with GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) left over from a party the night before.


    Small amounts of GHB can also heighten sexual experiences, leading to the nickname "great hormones at bedtime." But one swig too much can lead to respiratory problems, coma and even death.


    The officer said people use the drug at raves to find a more "relaxed"


    high rather the round-the-clock stimulation induced by crystal methamphetamine or ecstasy.


    Known as a "dissociative," GHB makes users feel that they are outside their bodies. One woman who has used it as an aphrodisiac said the drug enhances sensations.


    "It felt like my sensations were expanding but my emotions were dulled," said the woman, who asked that her name be withheld.


    Constable Rintoul said he recently arrested a young man at a rave who was carrying two tablets of ecstasy and a small vial of GHB. "He said he got a nice little buzz from combining the two."


    But others complain that GHB's effects come too fast and too hard.


    Inexperienced users may feel severely inebriated in no time, Constable Rintoul said.


    GBH is commonly sold in vials or small bottles for about $10 to $20. A typical dose is the equivalent of about two teaspoons (9.8 millilitres), which can induce euphoric feelings that last up to six hours. First developed as an anesthetic, GHB is a fast-acting central nervous system depressant.


    It was once sold in health food stores as a performance-enhancing drug for body builders. As a sexual aid, it can enhance male erectile capacity and heighten sensitivity.


    But the drug becomes dangerous when an inexperienced user takes too much, or if it is combined with alcohol. Four teaspoons of GHB can induce a coma, hence, its more sinister use as a date-rape drug.


    The drug was outlawed in Canada and the United States in the 1990s.


    GHB is cheap because it is synthetic and can be manufactured easily.


    Recipes are available on the Internet and its legal ingredients include industrial solvents.

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