by: Bob Magee

Mr. Richard Erwin Rood, (a.k.a. Ravishing Rick Rude), age 40, of Alpharetta (GA), a loving father and husband, was a member of Alpharetta First United Methodist Church died April 20, 1999. Survived by wife, Mrs. Michelle Rood, Alpharetta; daughter, Merissa Rood, Alpharetta; Richard Ryan Rood and Colton Rood, Alpharetta; mother and father, Richard C. Rood and Penny Rood, Larry and Sally Chiaferi, sisters, Sherry and Nancy Rood, Robbinsdale, MN; Cathy Carder, Las Vegas, NV; Marcy Wheeler, Las Vegas, NV; brother, Michael Rood, Minneapolis, MN; grandparents, Mrs. Ruby Wilson,and Mrs. Brenda Allred, Tampa, FL; sister-in-law, Bridget Brown, Tampa, FL; 10 nieces, 7 nephews.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, April 24, 2 p.m. in the Mansell Chapel of Roswell Funeral Home, Rev. David Tinsley, officiating. The family will receive friends Friday, April 23 from 6 until 9 p.m. Entombment Green Lawn Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please make contributions to: The American Cancer Society, 3545 Cruise Rd., Suite 102, Lawrenceville, GA 30044. Roswell Funeral Home, 950 Mansell Rd., 770-993-4811.

It never ends.

Dammit, it never ends.

How many times do I have to write columns like these?

Jay Youngblood. Rick McGraw. David (Von Erich) Adkisson. Mike Adkisson. Chris Adkisson. Kerry Adkisson. Buzz Sawyer. Eddie Gilbert. Art Barr. Brian Pillman. Louie Spicolli. Now we have to add the name of Rick Rude to the ever-lengthening list of those who've died from the effects of drug use.

Dave Meltzer's Wrestling Observer is reporting that that Liquid Ecstasy, also known as GHB, played a role in Rick Rude's death this past Tuesday. Meltzer is further reporting that there have been at least five instances in the last six weeks alone of current WCW and WWF superstars who have had some sort of overdose on Liquid Ecstasy, be it a minor or severe overdose.

Some information on Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB), the drug in question:

It is also known as the "date rape" drug. It can cause respiratory problems as well as nausea, amnesia, coma, and ultimately (and possibly) death if abused or even used casually.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, GHB was originally developed as an anesthetic, but was withdrawn due to unwanted side effects. The only legal use of GHB has been as an investigational treatment for the treatment of narcolepsy. In Europe, GHB has been used as an anaesthetic and experimentally to treat alcohol withdrawal. GHB is being marketed in England as an anti-aging medicine which allegedly increases the libido, decreases body fat, aids alcohol withdrawal, and induces sleep.

In the United States, GHB has been marketed illicitly to body builders as a growth hormone stimulant and as a replacement for L-tryptophan, a food supplement which reportedly induced sleep and was withdrawn in 1989 due to complications. The substance is currently circulating within the dance music scene (at raves and night clubs) as an alternative to Ecstasy or Amphetamine Sulphate (speed). GHB, which is easily home-brewed in basement chemistry labs, is often used in conjunction with alcohol.

GHB is usually available as an odorless, colorless, and nearly tasteless liquid. Sometimes the substance is available as a powder, or in a capsule. At small doses, GHB encourages a reduction of social inhibitions, similar to alcohol, and an increased libido. At higher doses, this euphoria gives way to feelings of sedation.

Reported symptoms include vomiting, drowsiness, dizziness, vertigo, and seizures. After excessive use, some users have experienced loss of consciousness, irregular and depressed respiration, tremors, or coma. As with most drugs of this type, side effects that exist with GHB are often much more severe when it is combined with other CNS depressants.

Along with its "recreational" usage, the effects of GHB may explain why wrestlers are actively using it, since usage as a growth hormone allows the person to speed up their metabolism and therefore burn fat. I

t has been reported that Rude was contemplating a return to the ring, and thus may have been looking for quick ways to redevelop his trademark physique. According to sources within WCW, Rude was also drinking heavily in recent weeks; including at the DirecTV Backstage Blast broadcast. While comment until autopsy results are made public is certainly speculation, it is possible the combination of GHB may have proven deadly to Rude.

It may also be the reason that WCW seems to be avoiding too much mention of Rude's death. The WWF mentioned him on its weekend shows. ECW mentioned him on it's TV shows. Several independent promotions acknowledged Rude this weekend before their shows. WCW?

The common practice these recent months within WCW seems to be: give the deceased 30 seconds of airtime, if that much, and continue the profit-making juggernaut full speed ahead; without stopping to consider the fact that sooner or later, one of these deaths will slow the juggernaut down.

Indeed, one of these deaths will slow the juggernaut down. Let's put it more directly: What will happen the night that a wrestler drops dead on on a Monday Night RAW? Drops dead on a NITRO? Drops dead on a WCW, WWF, or ECW PPV?

There will be no way to edit the footage. There will be no way to explain it away. There will be no sweeping it under the rug any longer. What will happen then?

Will WCW, the WWF, and ECW then make an effort to enact REAL drug testing? Legitimate drug testing? Not testing that gets conveniently leaked to "the boys", but REAL honest to God testing. Testing for the use of somas and other muscle relaxers... testing for painkillers... testing for cocaine... testing for Nu-Bain and other narcotics... testing for steroids and other growth-enhancing substances...testing for the many other drugs being used by wrestlers today on an all too frequent basis?

It will be too late by then.

Will WCW, the WWF, and ECW enact an employee assistance program to allow for drug/alcohol counseling of workers and office employees?

It will be too late by then.

When that night happens...when one of the major names of the business, say...Scott Steiner...or Terry Bollea...or Jerome Young... or Shane Douglas...or Axl Rotten....or Shawn Michaels... dies live on a major TV show or PPV; the business will be changed forever.

The mainstream advertisers will scramble away as fast as they legally can. The media will train their guns on the business. Government agencies will be breathing down the neck of the wrestling industry. The days when Phil Mushnick was the worst enemy wrestling had will be memories of the past.

It's up to the wrestling business, once and for all, to decide if it will get serious about drug abuse. It's time for them to decide if they give a damn about their employees. It's time for them to decide if they give a damn about themselves and their long-term futures.

It's time to decide if they will by their inaction, let another wrestler die.

Until next time....

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