Mike: †Hey what's up? I'm Mike, and I'm here with Erika Christensen from the movie ďTrafficĒ.
Erika: Hey, thanks for having meÖSo you may know them as E, X, K, GHB, acid, speed. They're called the club drugs. But people are taking them at home now, you know, hang out with your friends, maybe at school, and you may think they're harmless fun but when the high wears off, reality sets in.
Mike: You know, youíre absolutely right. I remember an experience I had with a couple of friends, and we tried it and the high wasn't as good as the turn around. Like the next day, extreme low and it just wasn't worth it.
Erika: You may think you're never gonna do something, like you're "aw, nah dude, I'm not gonna do cocaine", but like then youíre high on E, someone offers you something and it's like "okay whatever", you know
Erika: You know, in ďTrafficĒ I played a drug addict, so when the cameras stopped rolling, I could just walk away from it and be fine. But we talked to some kids in rehab who didn't have that choice of just walking away from it. Even after it stopped being fun.
Michelle: When I first started using drugs, I was about fourteen years old. And I think, you know, I first tried weed and stuff like that and then it progressed into ecstasy and acid.
Jim: And I started off smoking weed, and eventually it was like, you know, I was still getting high from it, but it was just like alright, it was familiar. I wanted something new.
James: When I first starting doing drugs, I was around fourteen going on fifteen, around there. I'd just moved into a new town, and I wanted to fit in. And that was the way I could fit in that town, was by doing drugs.
Michelle: What got me started was basically like, the curiosity and this drive to fit in because I just began high school
James:† And then it just went from like, from once a month to the weekends. Then from the weekends to every day a week, and it just got like, way out of hand, just, everything got carried away, and I couldnít stop. And Iíd actually tell myself that I could stop whenever I wanted, so it would still seem alright with me.
Jim: Iíve taken pretty much all of the club drugs there are. I donít think Iíve ever seen a club. The closest I came to a club is like, I donít know, someone gave me one of those little advertisement cards, you know.
James: Theyíre still at clubs, but I mean theyíre just everywhere else, at school, in yeah, at your house, you do Ďem or whatever.
Michelle: ÖYou know, taking ecstasy in Spanish class and stuff like that.
Ashley: I did E for the first time when I was twelve because my friendís older brother was doing it, and I wanted to be cool and fit in, so I did E.
Justin: I started to do ecstasy, mes, mescaline, cocaine, heroin.
Rebecca: †My boyfriend was like ohh, you know, this is ecstasy and I want you to do it with me, or whatever, so I was like, I was scared at the time cuz I really didn't know, know what I'm sayin, I thought that I would never try it.
Ralph: And I always told myself nah, I'm never gonna do ecstasy, never, you know, and now I learned, never to say never cause it can happen. Ecstasyís a real serious drug.
Meghan: Once you came down from your high, well, at least for my high, I was the most miserable person in the world I just wanted to curl up in a corner and die.
Doctor Alan Leshner, Director of NIDA: When you take ecstasy, what happens is it, of course, rushes to your brain and then it stimulates two types of activity. One, it causes a release of seratonin, and the other, it causes a release of dopamine, and the euphoria, the high, is actually a combination of those two chemical systems in the brain spiking. And then over time the levels of those brain chemicals actually decrease and can go lower than they had been before you take the drug.
Michelle: I'd just sit in my room for like hours, and I wouldnít leave my room until I was, you know, ready to get up and go get high again. Basically, like I just, like Iíd get depressed and like Iíd get high to cover that up, and it was just like a vicious cycle .
Jim: I got thrown into a pretty bad depression when I tried to go clean, and it didnít happen. And I got thrown all out of whack, and I tried to kill myself. I remember I was just like really, really like kinda felt like this isnít working, and the kind of little baby "I donít wanna be here anymore" type of mentality. And I winded up pouring gas all over myself and lighting it and burnt 30% of my body.†
Doctor Leshner: Modern neuro-imaging techniques are allowing us to look into the brain of living, breathing, awake individuals. What you see on this chart is the brain of a normal individual. And then an E user, three weeks after the last time that person used E, and what this image shows is very straight forward.† So bright is more, dull is less, bright is good, dull is bad, and what weíre measuring here is the ability to use seratonin in the brain. Seratonin is involved in the normal control of mood, of cognitive function of memory, of the experience of pain and sleep. And so if you think about it, if you disrupt your normal seratonin functioning, youíre disrupting many aspects of an individualís core life functioning, their personality, their ability to do well in school, this is a serious change in brain function.††††
Ralph: Through ecstasy I messed up, messed up on a lot of stuff. You know, I used to be on a high school football team, I stopped going to practice.
Michelle: I was a cheerleader when I first went into high school my first year and then like my second year I was barely in school.
Driving/ Accidents /Unprotected sex
John: The way you think on ecstasy is that youíre safe from anything. So, you can look at any person and youíre like no, this personís like, nothingís going to happen to me, even if I have sex with this person. And youíre not going to be cautious at all, youíre not aware at all.
Ashley:† And youíre feeling good, so youíll do whatever you want, do whatever makes you happy for the moment. And the next day you sit down and you think about it and youíre like, oh my God, I had unprotected sex with this guy, you know. I donít know how many girls heís ever been with, what if I got something. And I was in that situation, I went and I got tested, and HIV tested, and everything because you can really do things you wouldnít normally do when you were sober and thinking straight.
Michelle: A friend was drinking and I think he took valiums or something like that. Some type of pill; I donít even think he knew what it was. And he was driving home with his friend and they, he lost control of his car, and he hit a tree, and he died. And he was about eighteen years old. And now the kid that was the passenger, whatever, heís like paralyzed and stuff like that. How many times I got into a car with people that were drunk, or on ecstasy, or on acid, or any kind of drug, or just smoked weed like. How many times I got into peopleís cars and like and something could have happened. Iím very grateful for it.
Ralph: One thing I fear is from smoking weed and doing ecstasy, you can face memory loss. Like I try to think of my friendís numbers, phone numbers and some girlís numbers in my neighborhood. I canít even remember them.
Doctor Leshner: Weíve heard people talk about ecstasy causing holes in the brain and of course thatís a bit of an exaggeration, but there is a core truth to that. We know that many people report that theyíve had some memory loss, and now scientific studies have documented that, actually, repeated ecstasy use leads to an interference with normal memory processes, and actually broader thought processes as well.
Ashley: We were just going over simple math problems, like problems, like addition and division and multiplication. It was just real hard to remember, and I kinda had to re-learn everything I learned like when I was in elementary school cuz a lot of the stuff I forgot.
Miami Cop: Here in south Florida, we have seen over the last few years such a rapid increase in drug overdose as a direct result of club drugs, via taking the club drugs individually or mixing and combining the club drugs. I canít tell you how many times Iíve been walking in a rave club, and Iíve seen kids on the floor going into convulsions or suffering from serious dehydration, or having mild heart attacks. In these clubs, in homes.† Most of the kids think, you know I take a tablet, itís a small little pill, how is this going to hurt me?
Ralph: Like, one time, I popped two in a night. And I was scared after I popped the second one. You know, my heart started beating real hard. I started sweating.
Doctor Leshner: One of the things that people donít think about with E is that it is a stimulant.† It does in fact cause racing of the heart, it causes a dramatic rise in blood pressure, itís been said to cause strokes in some people.
Michelle: You know, I know people right now, only like sixteen years old, and like they shake from it. Like, they donít stop shaking .
Doctor Leshner: It also has the effect of raising the body temperature. Thatís why you hear reports of people having convulsions one. Whatís actually happening is that their body temperature has gone so high, often in raves or other hot places, they actually have the convulsions associated with a fever. You have no way to know if you that person who has that terrible reaction.
Ralph: You keep telling yourself, "it's not gonna happen, it's not gonna happen", that's when it does.
Radio dispatcher : Post 53 respond at 45 Mansfield Avenue, 17 female possible overdose.
Will: Man53 responding to 321 Cleveland Road.
Trish: Post 53 is a group of highschoolers from 14 to 18 who provide 100 percent volunteer ambulance service, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We respond to anything from a motor vehicle accident on the highway to elderly emergency to a sports injury or drug overdose.
Will: The thrill of driving an ambulance at seventeen years old is just amazing. I consider it a job even though it is volunteer. I really enjoy helping people.
Trish: If you already called 911, and your friend has overdosed on a drug, it important to return to your friend immediately in case they've gone unconscious.† If they're still unconscious, you want to make sure they're in an upright position so that when they vomit they won't choke on their own vomit. Also if they've gone unconscious, it's important to lay them on their side in what's called the recovery position so that the vomit would drain from their mouth. And also just monitor then to make sure that they have and open airway and their breathing the whole time until the ambulance arrives. If you're at a party with your friend and your worried calling 911 because your afraid that your friend might get in trouble because they had too much to drink or a few too many drugs. It's better to call 911 if they need to go to the hospital because you have to think of the long term effects. There might not be death involved but any sort of brain damage or permanent injury could occur. Your friend would appreciate it if you save their lives rather than then getting in trouble for a couple of weeks.
Michelle: Iíve had some bad combinations of um, you know, being drunk, smoking weed and on acid, or like being drunk, smoking weed and on ecstasy. Just anything with like another drug is like really bad, like it just, like it has different effects on you. So you know, you never know what could happen to you.
Doctor Leshner: GHB is a very frightening drug because, first of all, it combines with alcohol, cause it works on the same brain chemical systems, and in addition to that it can easily lead to coma, and in fact thatís what itís doing. Itís shutting down your brain. Initially, it sedates you and then it sedates you some more, and then whoops, youíre out!
Meghan: Just being on K makes you feel like youíre drunk, and then being drunk on top of it makes you feel like youíre just in another world because, itís scary.
Jim: The K-hole. Youíre pretty much like, like your kind of comatose. You donít want to do anything, donít wanna talk.
Doctor Leshner: Ketamine is actually a veterinary anesthetic. Itís an anesthetic used to treat animals for surgery. So combining alcohol and ketamine produces a tremendously dangerous combination of two ways of shutting down your brain, in effect.
Jim: I think the biggest misconception about ecstasy would be yeah itís real, how do you know? It could be cut with anything. Ranging from Ajax, to rat poisoning, you have no idea whatís in this thing youíre about to take.
Ashley: The drugs that you buy get passed down from like so many people, and everybody cuts it.
John: I had this one kid selling fake ecstasy for me and then I felt real bad for him because the kid gets jumped because of me, gets robbed, and got his whole rib from here to here got cut open.
Justin: Some people will buy the pure MDMA, like the pure ecstasy, and theyíll cut it up, and theyíll get a pill press, and theyíll mix up what they want to mix up. With, like, speed, anything. Then, like to catch attention, people will put little stamps on it like a clover in the middle of it or something.
Justin, John, and Group: Mitsubishi, 007, diamonds, Nikes, Supermans, Yís, smiley faces on them, lucky charms, white doves. There are a whole bunch of different brands.
Miami Cop: The manufacturers are going great lengths to manufacture tablets with logos that appeal to the American youth, and it's effective.
Justin: You know. Itís sort of like shoe ads or cigarette ads.
Ashley: You know, if someone showed me a bunch of E pills, and asked me which one I would want to take, I would take the one you know, that everyone talks about the most.
Michelle: So it became, youíd do anything to just get this money to do all these things.
Meghan: I used to steal money from my parents. I would sell anything I could get my hands on.
Jim: I was the type of person that you donít wanna leave alone in your house. I used to have parents like weíd leave and theyíd be like, ďWhat did you takeĒ. Like Iíve actually had them pat me down, like yeah.
Legal, Cop, DA
Miami cop: Where thereís drugs, youíre going to find undercover cops. Weíre everywhere in this city, and in every city where Iíve ever worked.
Ralph: A lot of cops are trained to know how you act, know how you walk, when you have drugs, when youíre high, how you are when youíre high, you know, and when you least expect youíre gonna get caught, bam, a cop will roll up on you.
Justin: Iím walking down the street, and this guy, heís drinking a forty. And thereís this other guy thatís standing on the side of him. And I go up to the guy on the side of the guy drinking a forty because he says heís got dope. And I bought it from him, and three seconds later that same guy that was drinking the forty came up and tackled me on the ground. He was an undercover cop. I had no idea.
Drug bust footage
Miami cop: I think itís important that we donít discriminate. If youíre a kid, if youíre an adult, weíre going to treat you the same. Many of the youth believe that there are no penalties for simply possessing club drugs. Ecstasy, GHB, ketamine, the entire gambit of club drugs, and thatís false.
Jeannine Pirro, Westchester County D.A.: Ecstasy, ketamine are in the same class as heroin and cocaine. That means that if youíre sixteen years of age, your name gets in the paper, you get arrested, you get a criminal record, youíre fingerprinted, you are mugged. Your photograph is part of a criminal history sheet in New York State. Young people canít assume that maybe because itís their first offense theyíre going to get away with it.
Ashley: My boyfriend put me in a lot of risks getting trouble with the cops, because I was fifteen and he was eighteen, and you know whenever we were in the car and the cops pulled us over, he would always give me all the drugs and the paraphernalia. And I would like stick it in my bra or stick it down my pants.
Pirro: if the police find that you are driving while you are intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, they are going to inventory that car to impound it, and whateverís in that car, youíre going to be charged to presuming to have possesssion of.
Ralph: Reality strikes you in your face, and before you know it, youíre behind bars.
Ralph: Here I am with guys, you know twenty, thirty years old in the cell, in the precinct, waiting to go to court, and Iím waiting for my mom because I held some ecstasy for some kid.
Pirro: If you are charged with a misdemeanor, that means if you are charged with the possession of one tablet, you face up to a year in prison. But in the spectrum of things, you can face a thousand dollar fine, you can face three years of probation, you can face community service, a permanent criminal record. You may be forced to go into a rehab program.†
As the number of pills go up, as I said with twelve, you face up to seven years as a felony.
Justin: Since Iíve been sixteen, Iíve been locked up on three separate occasions. And altogether Iíve spent almost ten months in jail.
Ashley: I was in shackles and cuffs, when I came in.
Justin: The cells is horrible.
Ashley: The walls are just made up of concrete bricks. And it's real cold in there.
Justin: There are bugs are all over the place, the toilets got no toilet seat on them, they're dirty.
Ashley: The bed are so uncomfortable, they're like thin little pleather mattresses and pleather pillows.
Justin: The showers are cold all the time.
Ashley:† I had to sleep with the light on cuz they make 15 minute checks.
Justin: Youíre in your cell 22 hours a day, you come out for two hours if youíre lucky.
Ashley : You have to walk in line with your head down you can't talk with anybody
Justin: You got to fight for your blankets, your underwear, your shirts, your socks, you got to fight for everything, there's savages in there.
Justin: Itís horrible. Itís like the worst thing anybody can go through. I never want to go back to jail again.
Pirro: There is no guarantee that if you are prosecuted for the possession of these drugs that your record will be sealed.† In fact, the presumption is that it will not be sealed. Trying to get into college and explaining why you have a record, an arrest and a conviction for drug possession is going to be very difficult for a young person.
Ralph: I never thought I was addicted to E, until I noticed, started to notice, how much money I was draining from my pocket my family's pocket. Where it started taking me, how it affected my body.
Doctor Leshner: There has been a lot of discussion about whether E is addicting and, of course, from a scientific point of view that is actually a very difficult question. We do know that an increasing number of people are coming into treatment settings saying, ďI canít get control over my E use.Ē† Now, clinically, that is the definition of addicting.††
Meghan: I just thought I was going to try it. You know, see what everyoneís raving about. And, I like fell in love with it basically. But I never thought that it would be to the point where I had to have it because I just didnít think I was one of those people that I saw on TV, you know.† Would do anything for money just to get drugs, I thought I had to be thirty to be a drug addict.
Michelle: I thought I was different. Then all of a sudden, things get out of hand and it hits you, you know, and you wake up in like a hospital, you wake up in a rehab, and you donít know, you search for answers. And like, why did I do this. And where was the point that it started getting like, out of hand.
Doctor Leshner: Thereís tremendous individual differences in how vulnerable people are to becoming addicted. Some people become addicted very, very rapidly, other people become addicted more slowly.
Ashley: Itís so easy to just do it, and to just increase how much drugs you do. And itís just, you donít really notice it, and you kinda like deny because you donít want yourself to know that you have a problem.
Doctor Leshner: Whatís happening in addiction is that your brain is, of course, being changed by the drugs, and what weíve learned is that the areas of the brain that are changed are those responsible for your normal motivations. So what the drug is actually doing is hijacking your brainís motivational systems.† And drug comes to be the top priority.†
Rebecca: I was always interested in being a lawyer, and then once I started doing drugs, forget it. I lost interest in that. I didnít want to be a lawyer no more.
James: Back then I didnít care at all about school, to tell you the truth. Be like time to go to school, and in my head is what Iím thinking is, time to do drugs.
Jim: Like all of us said the same thing. Iím never gonna wind up in rehab.
James: For me there was no way I could stop by myself.
Jim: One of the hardest realizations I had was the fact that I had to ask for help no matter how much I didnít want to.
Ashley: After I was in juvie for two weeks, I went back to court and the judge mandated me to residential treatment and that's when I came here.
Ralph: I'm with people with the same problems. This person actually knows the exact feeling I felt, knows everything I went through, you know it really feels good to let out your feelings.
Ashley: It not only helped me with my drug use, but it helped me with a lot of things getting my life on track. I was way behind in school work and now I'm all caught up.
Justin: This place has helped me a lot because now I know that if I went on the road I was on Iím not going to go anywhere, Iím going to end up hitting a brick wall and either ending up six feet beneath the ground or in jail for life doing something really stupid.
John: Now that I realize when I go home I got to face reality, and I gotta get money without selling drugs. I have to support, I have to help my mother pay the bills, I have to get food on the table.
Justin: I can go home and I still do anything I want. I can do anything be a lawyer, DEA agent. Whatever I want to be, you know. Thatís what keeps me going because when I go home I want to get a nice job, get a nice house, family, you know, get a car. Just do things I never got to before when I was on drugs. Like have fun without the drugs because you can have fun without drugs. And this place has proved it to me.
Michelle: All this stuff, it was fun at the moment but it really wasnít worth all the things I put myself through.
Jim: Everyday itís like, wow, Iíve been clean this long, longest in my life and I can actually say that everyday I like how it sounds.
Meghan: It teaches you how to be you and not worry about what other people think about you and not try to fit in. If youíre going to fit in, you're gonna fit in, and if youíre not then youíre you.
Michelle: I wish I did listen to like my friends you know, that I wasn't getting high with but like you know, my parents and stuff like that you know, the people that really cared about me who are still here and like you know the people that I used to get high with you know, there not here.
James: Iím a lot happier overall. A lot more alive, aware. Everything is real to me now. Itís just not something that I made up by using drugs. Itís not just a dream, a big drug world. Now like when things are fun, theyíre really fun. Theyíre the real thing.
Jim: I have to say it'd be like walking around with a blindfold on because you have no idea what youíre getting yourself into. You open a door, you donít know where youíre going, you donít what youíre doing. You really have no idea what youíre getting yourself into. Like you have no idea if you're ever gonna come back out of the room you just walked into because you have no idea where you are. Thatís like the best way I can put it because thatís what happened to me.
Erika Christensen: You know in life we're faced with difficult decisions all the time. Before you take that pill that someone offers you, you have to think of about the consequences.
Mike: The simple fact are you don't know what you're getting, you don't know how your body would react to the certain drugs, or a combination for that matter.† So don't think cuz someone testes your pill or there is a familiar logo that your safe. Cuz real ecstacy is just as harmful as laced pills.
Erika: I just say "no thanks" and then you know, I get up on the dance floor and I'm just as crazy as everybody else and no one knows that I'm not on something and I havin' a great time dancing. You know, you love your friends and you trust your friends and you want to be like your friends, but you really got to think for yourself.† Getting off drugs can be really hard especially if you try it alone. So if you or any of your friends are having a problem with drugs and you need help don't be afraid to ask for it. You can call this free hotline. The number is 1-800-999-9999. The nine line. It's open 24/7 and all the calls are confidential. Also if you have any questions about drugs you can call this number. It's 1-800-662-help.† That also open 24/7 and all the calls are private. So nobody is gonna know who you are. So if your not happy, if your having trouble in school are with your family or whatever you can get help. Because drugs are not the answer to any of those problems. Theyíre only gonna hide your problems for a little while and then make a bunch more.
End of Show