Samantha Reid knew there was something weird about the Mountain Dew.
"She said it tasted gross and made me taste it," said Melanie, who had come with her friend to this small party.
But "Sammy", as her friends know her, drank it anyway. If she'd put it down, dumped it out, followed her instincts, she'd be alive today.
Someone had spiked Sammy's soda with GHB.
Sammy died at the age of 15. She was a freshman at Carlson High School, twenty minutes south of Detroit.
Four men have been convicted in her death; three are still in their teens.
"We thought if we put a little into the drinks, maybe they'll liven up a bit," Joshua Cole, 19, said in his statement.
On March 15, jurors found Joshua, Daniel Brayman, 18, and Nicholas Holtschlag, 18, guilty of involuntary manslaughter and two poisoning charges. The fourth defendant, Erick Limmer, 26, was found guilty of one count each of being an accessory to manslaughter after the fact, poisoning, and possession of GHB.
And on March 30, Joshua received the stiffest sentence of seven to 15 years. Nicholas received five years and nine months to 15 years, and Daniel, was given a 5- to 15-year sentence. Erick was sentenced to three to five years.
The men's conviction is the nation's first successful prosecution stemming from a death caused by GHB, an odorless, colorless liquid gaining popularity as a party drug.
Sammy's death also resulted in the 'Hillory J. Farias and Samantha Reid Date-Rape Drug Prohibition Act of 2000' signed by President Clinton last month.
GHB is now considered a "Schedule I substance" like heroin or LSD-- which means that if you are caught with it, you can spend a year in prison and pay a fine of $1000. If you provide the drug to someone else, you could spend up to 20 years behind bars. And if someone dies or is seriously injured because you supplied the drug-- you could get the death penalty.
GHB and another drug-- Rohypnol-- are called "date rape drugs" because men have used them to make women black out and lose their defenses.
When they're slipped
into a drink they dissolve. They are colorless and odorless. They may
even be tasteless.
Within twenty minutes of swallowing the drink you experience a "high" but you are also weakened. You may eventually become unconscious. And the drugs may produce complete or partial amnesia (loss of memory).
Passing out while on GHB or Rohypnol is sometimes called carpeting out, scooping out, or throwing down.
These drugs are not just used by guys who want to take advantage of women. There are teens of both sexes who think it's fun to spike someone's drink just to see what happens.
And many teens are
taking the stuff themselves-thinking that a small dose might be safe
and worth a try. You may have heard that GHB is natural, a sleep aid,
or a hang-over free high.
GHB has been associated with sexual assault in cities throughout the country.
GHB, short for gamma- hydroxybutyrate, costs from $5 to $20 a capful and looks just like water. It can be mistaken for water because it is usually found in a small (30ml) clear plastic bottle, a water bottle, an eyedrop bottle, even Gatorade bottles, which contain several doses. One quick taste, and you'll know it's not water. One "dose" is about a teaspoon but this depends on the concentration.
More and more often these days it's available as a white powder.
At first, GHB makes the victim feel good -- more talkative or aggressive-- but eventually sleepy. GHB can also cause memory loss.
When combined with alcohol or other drugs-especially methamphetamine or "speed"-- the consequences can be life-threatening
This is really gross stuff. It's usually made in "street labs"-- in bathtubs or kitchen sinks-- from solvents like floor stripper, drain cleaner and caustic soda (a chemical used in cleaning materials).
It's especially dangerous because there's a narrow margin between a dose that messes with your brain and one that could kill you.
Rohypnol, or "Roofies," is also classified as a "date-rape drug." It cost about $5 and looks like an aspirin tablet.
Users can appear extremely intoxicated, with slurred speech, no coordination, swaying, and blood-shot eyes ...with no odor of alcohol.
And, you can get
hooked on it. The drug can produce physical and psychological dependence.
But the dangers don't stop there. Besides the worries of unprotected
sex, Rohypnol, particularly when mixed with alcohol or other drugs-especially
depressants-can be lethal.
Rohypnol is not approved for use in the United States and its manufacture, distribution and importation is banned. Rohypnol is sold as a prescription drug in other countries making it easy for smugglers to buy it and bring it in to the U.S. Possession of Rohypnol is punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of $30,000.
Selling and buying the drugs on the Internet is also illegal. Two men accused of promoting the sale and manufacture of GHB are expected to make Michigan the first state to prosecute people accused of selling GHB on the Internet.
If convicted, they could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
Roofies take effect within twenty to thirty minutes, GHB is even faster-about fifteen minutes. GHB has a salty taste-someone may try to trick you by calling it an "energy" drink. Sometimes these drugs leave a residue in the glass or cause excessive foam.
If you feel intoxicated when drinking a nonalcoholic beverage or only one alcoholic drink you may have been "dosed".
Here's advice from the Rape Treatment Center, Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center: If one of your friends appears very drunk, gets sick after drinking a beverage, seems to have difficulty breathing or is behaving in an uncharacteristic way, take steps to ensure your friend's safety. If necessary call 911 for emergency medical assistance.
If you've been dosed you need to get to a safe place, ask a trusted friend to stay with you, call the police and go to a hospital as soon as possible.
Request that the hospital take a urine sample and test for drugs in a crime lab. Preserve as much physical evidence as possible. Save any other potential evidence such as the glass that held your drink.
If you wake up very "hung over" and experience memory loss and you feel like someone had sex with you but you can't remember, do not shower, bathe, or throw away the clothing you were wearing, call a rape crisis center for information and support.
If you have to drink, take care of yourself and your friends: don't drink beverages that you did not open yourself, don't drink from a container that's being passed around and don't leave a drink unattended while talking, dancing, using the restroom or making a phone call.
"I didn't think friends would do that to somebody," Melanie said at the trial.
Has she since changed her mind, the lawyer asked?
"Yeah," Melanie said quietly.
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