Intoxicants May Change, but Song Remains Same 

Intoxicants May Change, but Song Remains Same 
Posted by FoM on January 11, 2000 at 12:07:10 PT
By Richard Roeper, Sun -Times Columnist
Source: Chicago Sun -Times
Over the last few weeks, these seemingly unrelated events have unfolded in the Chicago area:A young man from Elgin disappeared at 2 a.m. on New Year's Day, after a night of partying with his buddies.A series of veterinary clinics in the north suburbs were burglarized by thieves, who took tranquilizers and anesthetics.A Southwest Side man was busted by police officers, who found more than 100 gallons of a thick, clear liquid in his home on Kostner Avenue.
The principals in these stories don't know each other--have probably never even crossed paths--but there is a common theme running through these dramas:The unrelenting desire of young adults to get hammered. It's a trait that breaks through the barriers of race, gender, locale and monetary status--a trait that has been consistent throughout the centuries, and will undoubtedly still be running strong a thousand years from now.Have you ever tried a Long Island iced tea? Its genteel name belies its potent ingredients: Two parts each of gin and rum, one part vodka, one part Triple sec, sour mix, a tiny splash of Coke, ice.Brian Welzien's friends and family say he's not much of a drinker, but on New Year's Eve, he reportedly downed several Long Island iced teas at Irish Eyes Pub in Lincoln Park. The 21-year-old Welzien was so ripped he passed out for a bit on the short ride home and then got sick in the car after it had arrived at the Ambassador East.Two of Welzien's buddies went into the hotel, but the security cameras don't show Welzien entering. He staggered off somewhere, and as of this writing, has yet to be heard from. Whatever happened to him, it might have been quite different had he been in stronger command of himself.Meanwhile, in the break-ins at about 10 veterinary clinics up north, a cat anesthetic known as ketamine hydrochloride seems to be particularly popular with the burglars. No doubt that's because keta-hydro works as a hallucinogen for humans, according to police and to Internet discussion groups.As for the bust on the Southwest Side, the guy who lives there was allegedly involved in the manufacturing of GHB, aka gamma hydroxybutyrate, G-riffic, Grievous Bodily Harm, Liquid G, Liquid X, Scoop, Soap, et al.You know a drug is popular when it has that many pseudonyms.Since I first wrote about GHB as an alarming fad among teens and young adults some three years ago, it has become more popular, mainly because it's cheap to manufacture and the ingredients are easily obtained. Spend five or 10 bucks on a shot or two of GHB, and you're soaring for the night.Chicago police have been diligently getting the word out about GHB and nitrous oxide and Ecstasy, following a number of busts of late night/early morning rave parties in houses, clubs and abandoned warehouses. One such story concerned a crowded party that was broken up at 10 o'clock--on a Sunday morning.If you're expecting all this anecdotal evidence to serve as a transition into a finger-shaking rant about "kids today," you'll have to turn to another columnist or another newspaper. Sure, it's sad and in some cases fatally tragic that so many teenagers and twentysomethings spend so much time and energy getting high, regardless of how terrific or bleak their lives may be--but they're not partying any more aggressively than their parents' generation.The drinks and drugs of choice in 2000 are different than the mind-altering vehicles of 1980, but the refrain remains the same: Starting at a very young age, millions of people will do just about anything to get messed up. I remember a time when stores were restricting sales of model airplane glue because the hippies had figured out you could sniff it and blow your mind, man.Talk all you want about addictive personalities and societal pressures, but it's always been this way, hasn't it? The primitive genius who discovered fire was probably only the second most popular creature in his cave town, behind the individual who figured out that if you chewed on that particular root, you'd get all happy and stupid.I know: Some people go their whole lives without getting wasted. They find peace through God or family or some inner mechanism.For the rest of us, though, maybe life is just too big, too frightening, too stressful, too boring, too . . . something to digest in a completely sober arc. By the time we're 15 or 16, we join the never-ending parade of people who need to escape.Usually the escape is temporary and it harms no one else; sometimes the paradegoers keep on marching, right out of our lives and into the abyss. But that reality is a lot easier to comprehend when you're 40 than when you're 20.Richard Roeper (rroeper appears Tuesdays at 8:10 a.m. and Wednesdays at 8:30 a.m. on WFLD-Channel 32's "Fox Thing in the Morning."Published: January 10, 2000Copyright 2000, Digital Chicago Inc. 
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