Play Safe –  

August 13, 2020 – Standing among throngs of concertgoers at a Brooklyn music venue last year, Palamar spotted the bulky man with the contorted face nearby. He was struggling to remain conscious.

“I’ve noticed that when people are meant to pass out and they keep forcing it, they make these very strange, primitive faces,” Palamar, an epidemiologist and associate professor of population health at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine, told NBC News. “They look like they are in such euphoria it’s almost painful.”

Within minutes, the man succumbed, apparently to the suppressive effects of the drug, and collapsed to the floor. Security staff raced over and carried him away.

 The ordeal reminded Palamar of New York’s sweaty nightclubs at the turn of the millennium, the same venues that had sparked his interest in studying drug use. Back then, overdoses, particularly on GHB, were so common that some clubs hired private ambulances to avoid 911 calls and police scrutiny. One club allegedly hid unconscious patrons in a back room without medical assistance.



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