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Research Chemicals: Tryptamine and Phenethylamine Use Among High-Risk Youth

NCJ Number
Substance Use & Misuse Volume: 43 Issue: 3-4 Dated: 2008 Pages: 389-402
Bill Sanders; Stephen E. Lankenau; Jennifer Jackson Bloom; Dodi Hathazi
Date Published
14 pages
Based on indepth interviews with 42 youth recruited in public settings in Los Angeles, CA, during 2005 and 2006, this study examined the types, modes of administration, onset of use, and context of use of a variety of lesser known tryptamines and phenethylamines, 2 broad categories of psychoactive substances with a long history of licit and illicit use.
Most youth in the sample who had used a tryptamine and phenethylamine did so at music festivals with little prior knowledge about the drug they consumed. A few of the youth purchased the drugs on the Internet as "research chemicals," or obtained them from friends who made such purchases. Youth who obtained drugs in this way most often consumed them in private settings with some knowledge of what to expect from the drugs' effects. Regardless of the consumption context, all youth reported similar positive experiences and comparable negative side effects. The long-term negative health outcomes associated with using tryptamines and phenethylamines are unknown; however, cognitive impairment and neurological toxicity have been associated with more common tryptamines and phenethylamines, such as MDMA and LSD. The authors advise that greater regulation is needed to limit the availability of these drugs to professional therapeutic use. This study was part of a larger two-phase, three-city study (New York City, New Orleans, and Los Angeles) designed to examine health risks associated with injecting ketamine, a dissociative anesthetic commonly used in the dance/rave scene and among subgroups of young intravenous drug users (IDUs). Phase one consisted of a cross-sectional, ethnographic survey of young IDUs recruited in the three cities. Phase two consisted of a 2-year longitudinal study of young IDUs recruited in Los Angeles during Phase one. Data for the current study are based on interviews with respondents recruited in Los Angeles. 3 tables and 43 references