Sunday, June 04, 2006

New street drug alarms authorities

The Detroit News Online

Police, doctors know little about potentially dangerous mix that sent four teens to the hospital.

Troy - A potentially dangerous designer street drug that sent four teens to the hospital last week has alarmed police, doctors and parents in Metro Detroit because so little information is available about it.

Called DOC for the abbreviation of its lengthy chemical name, the drug is a combination of amphetamine and a hallucinogen similar to LSD. Its toxicity is unknown, but symptoms including nausea, chest pains and restricted blood flow have been reported by some users. It is an extremely potent psychoactive drug, and experts say the risk of overdose is great if unknown or extreme doses are taken.

One of the four teens hospitalized after a Troy house party was found by police naked, dazed and running into walls.

"We want to get out ahead of it to tell the public about it," said Oakland County Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard. "It's relatively new to our narcotics enforcement group and we've had some overdoses on it already. We're always concerned when there's a new drug out there, especially when we don't know what it is."

The hospitalized teens were at a party on Malvern Street in Troy on May 24. Police say they each took the drug after it had been soaked on small pieces of paper by a teen who had ordered the supplies to mix the drugs from the Internet. All were released after being hospitalized.

The Sheriff's Department is awaiting toxicology reports on the drug from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to determine whether charges are warranted.

Because so little information is available about DOC, or 4-Chloro-2,3-Dimethoxyamphetamine, health care providers fear they may not know how to treat those who end up in emergency rooms.

"The danger is that treatment could be delayed or less than optimal because a doctor may not be able to determine what the person has taken," said Mark Lutz, a drug information specialist at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak. "Some doctors might use supportive measures only -- just treating symptoms rather than using a specific plan of action."

Lutz said there's a greater risk in taking DOC than in better-known designer street drugs.

"There's not a lot of information out there on how to treat it," he said. "We don't have enough information on whether a toxicology screen would tell what substance has been ingested."

For parents, DOC is just another thing to fear on a long list.

"I almost feel somewhat naive," said Sheryl Lederman of West Bloomfield. "I think my oldest daughter is aware of street drugs, but I don't know if she knows about this. Wow. I don't even know what to think. We as parents think we have kids who are good and wouldn't do anything like this. It's terrible."

Phillip Dietrich, 17, of Beverly Hills has heard of the drug, but agreed little is known about it.

"It's called a research chemical, like ecstasy and LSD," said the 17-year-old Birmingham Seaholm graduate as he was winding down inside Xhedos Cafe in Ferndale. "But it hasn't been researched as much as those drugs, so we don't really know what it does. I heard it's like really strong acid."

Dietrich said he doesn't know any kids currently using the drug.

Oakland County Undersheriff Mike McCabe said the investigation is continuing. "We'll send our findings to the prosecutor's office and they'll determine the charges."

By Shawn D. Lewis


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