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Parents urged to beware of LSD in disguise

Published Oct. 4, 2005

(ran SE edition)

The warning to parents isn't new or groundbreaking, but it still is considered relevant: Beware of people trying to sell drugs to your kids.

A flier distributed in the emergency room at All Children's Hospital warns parents to beware of LSD disguised as tattoos and cartoon characters aimed at their kids.

The acid could be in the form of a small piece of paper with a blue star or brightly colored tabs resembling postage stamps and adorned with popular cartoon characters, such as Beavis and Butt-head, Bart Simpson, Superman or Mickey Mouse or images of clowns or butterflies.

In bold letters, the flier warns:


It might sound like an urban legend, but an increasing number of adolescents have ended up in area emergency rooms from overdoses of LSD, said Dr. Alison Anderson, director of emergency services at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg. The flier has been distributed for months, Anderson said, making parents aware of what's out there.

"We'll keep it out there as long as we need to," she said. "Prevention is the best way to help solve this problem."

Symptoms caused by the drug, which became popular in the 1960s, include hallucinations, severe vomiting, mood swings, uncontrolled laughter and fever. Experts agree that, by itself, LSD is generally not a killer, but it can be lethal if mixed with strychnine or the drug PCP.

Although the warning fliers are distributed at least once a year, parents still need to be told the dangers of LSD, the use of which has increased in recent years among bay area teens, said Nancy Hamilton, director of services for women, children and adolescents at Operation PAR.

"It's still not one of the top drugs of choice, but (the increase) gives cause for alarm," she said.

A survey conducted last year by Operation PAR, the Juvenile Welfare Board and the Pinellas County schools showed that LSD use among Pinellas high school seniors has more than doubled since 1992, from almost 5 percent to more than 10 percent. The survey also showed that Pinellas teens from the eighth grade on have a higher overall percentage of LSD use than teens nationwide.

Lt. Michael Platt of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office's narcotics division says the reasons for the drug's resurgence are that it's cheap, easy to make and distribute, and not as lethal as its counterpart of 30 years ago. Platt said the drug is sold in schools, arcades, nightclubs and "wherever else you find kids," for as little as $5 a hit.

Early intervention is the best way to combat drug use, Hamilton said.

The first time a parent suspects or confirms drug use, she said, "all hell ought to break loose. By the time you try to correct behavior in the 10th, 11th and 12th grades, it's already too late."