Alarm Over Young People Using Dangerous Drugs in Cuba / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 30 January 2018 — The intoxication of seven young Cubans who used a new drug proliferating on Cuban streets, has sounded the alarm at high government levels on the island.

The substance, identified as Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB), aroused concern because of its dangerousness.  It is taken in search of a euphoric effect accompanied by disinhibition and sexual stimulation. The cases were reported to the Institute of Legal Medicine of Havana, and have put on alert the State Council, the National Security Commission, the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) and the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP), according to the information obtained by Martí News.

Although so far no deaths have been reported due to the use of this new hallucinogenic in Cuba, it is known that its consumption can lead to coma and respiratory system affects, with a number of acute side effects, and even death.

The drug seems not to have appeared yet in Cuba’s interior provinces; all seven cases were reported in Havana.

In recent weeks, the official press has intensified warnings about the consequences of drug use among youth. On January 18, the official Cubadebate portal published the story of a mother concerned about her son’s addiction, and accompanied the text with the opinion of youth psychiatrist Idelys Clavero Ariz on the most effective way to combat addictions in society. However the cases of those affected by this new drug were not mentioned.

GHB, as the hallucinogenic is known, is a depressant of the central nervous system which, although many associate it with the drug Ecstasy, has nothing to do with MDMA or other substances similar to amphetamines, according to medical sources.

“The effects of this drug appear around 45 minutes after taking the dose,” a source linked to the investigation told Martí News.

“The chemical composition of this substance makes it difficult for it to be detected by security protocols followed by Customs officials; however, as it is used in the investigation of certain diseases, we are inclined to suspect that it was not imported into the country but that it was taken from one of the laboratories of BioCubaFarma or another laboratory of the Public Health system that uses it,” added the researcher, who asked not to be identified.

GHB is also known as Buche, Kiss or Super Viagra, is a colorless and odorless liquid. It is a type of synthetic drug that is metabolized very quickly and causes an intensified sense of well-being, extroversion, emotional warmth, empathy towards others and the willingness to talk about emotionally charged memories. It is consumed mixed with other substances such as alcohol or energy drinks, which complicates its detection by clinical analysis.

Some members of the Cuban Communist Party have suggested silence so as not to create alarm, while investigators and Ministry of the Interior officials are anxious to uncover the trail from import, trafficking and the consumption of this dangerous scourge.

The Ministry of Public Health works to save patients who arrive at any of its facilities and proposes to raise awareness among the population of the danger posed by this drug.

The government, for its part, issued a circular ordering that clinics, hospitals and other institutions of the Health System that receive people with the symptoms similar to those caused by the consumption of GHB, are obliged to report them urgently via a national phone number, disseminated among all MINSAP units in the country.