Viagra Helps Kids Party Hard-y

Sildenafil citrate, otherwise known as Viagra, isn't just for Grandpa Joe anymore. It seems the Bob Dole-endorsed love drug is now growing in popularity with beer-guzzling college students and rollin' ravers, all looking to party hard-y, all night long.

It's true. Thanks to the Internet, prescription-free access to the wonder drug that does wonders (increasing blood flow to the penis) is easy. All you need is a credit card and half-a-brain.

Most online pharmacies ask potential Viagra customers to complete a lengthy medical history questionnaire. Once filled out, it's reviewed by one of a number of on-call doctors, employed by the dot-com on the side to issue prescriptions -- this is what is called an online consultation.

The online form includes basic medical (Do you take any form of nitroglycerin?), personal (When were you born?), and highly personal questions (Please explain the specific reason for ordering Viagra.). So long as you lie, claiming to be a man over the age of 50 with erectile dysfunction, it's cake.

The pills are available in 100mg form, in bottles of 30, 60, and 90. For 90 pills, you'll pay anywhere between $825 and $990 -- the going rate in most pharmacies for uninsured patrons. But for street dealers, $990 is nothing -- selling pills at a modest rate of $20 apiece would result in an $810 profit. Dealer prices vary according to location. In New York, Viagra's going street rate is $25 a pill, a police source there says.

The origins of Viagra-as-a-recreational-drug began in England in 1998, where, within weeks of becoming available in that country, it was being sold illicitly in London nightclubs. Now, the Viagra-chompin' craze has crossed the pond, where it's an illegal staple in the club circuit. Viagra, known casually as "Poke" in some raver circles, is usually taken with ecstasy. Club-goers claim the combination creates an enhanced "sextasy" effect, whereas taking ecstasy alone usually quells libido, and, in general, makes it difficult for one to wake the clown.

Reports of use among ravers are startling, for one simple and often lethal reason. Many of them report combining Viagra with rush or poppers; vials of amyl nitrate or isobutyl nitrate -- basically, VCR head cleaning solution -- inhaled as an aphrodisiac. Both drugs dilate blood vessels, which can result in a dangerous drop in blood pressure, potentially causing heart attack or stroke.

Binge-drinking college students are also popping the little triangular impotence-pill-that-could to counter the limping effects of excessive beer consumption. Viagra provides at least four hours, occasionally as many as six, of rigidness, meaning the stunting effects of the alcohol will have little influence on arousal. In essence, one could take Viagra, drink, pass out, and still perform.

There's another reason why teens and college students are exploiting the little blue miracle pill, and it has everything to with performance. Physiologically, men, after climax, experience a refractory period that lasts anywhere from five to 10 minutes. It's during this phenomenon that the engorged penis becomes flaccid. On Viagra, men can maintain a solid erection through repeated sexual encounters. Theoretically, a man on Viagra, even after ejaculation, can just keep on at it.

There's only one problem, aside from the documented medical side effects associated with use of the stiffening agent among younger men (doctors warn that the unusual exertion of all-nighters could precipitate a fatal silent blockage in the heart vessels; urologist warn that prolonged arousal could lead to future psychogenic impotence); once you're up, it takes a while before you can come down.

"We condemn it," says Pfizer, Inc., spokesman Geoff Cook, of use among males not experiencing genuine erectile dysfunction. Cook says Pfizer vehemently objects to sale of the drug over the Internet, and advises anyone who would like to try the drug to seek medical advice prior to use.

Cook warns Viagra is a drug that treats millions of men daily for a very embarrassing problem -- it's not an aphrodisiac and does not improve sexual performance. Officer Johnson may stand at attention longer, but that doesn't mean he'll salute any better.

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