Ecstasy: Danger for Teens

Ecstasy has been around in one form or another since it was developed by a well known pharmaceutical company during the early years of the twentieth century. The drug, known as MDMA, resurfaced during the 1950s when the U.S. Army implemented it in psychological warfare. In the 1960s, it was used by psychotherapists who valued the drug for its ability to remove patients' inhibitions.
By the 70s, the drug was sold legally as "Ecstasy," and soon found its way into the party scene. Its popularity grew by leaps and bounds. Safety concerns and a high potential for abuse prompted the federal government in the US to ban the drug in 1985. There is no recognized medical use for the drug.
Today, Ecstasy is still a popular drug. It is used primarily by teens and college students, often at parties known as "raves."

Ecstasy is known by a number of innocent-sounding names, including XTC, Molly, California Sunrise, Scooby Snacks, Clarity, Essence, Beans or Disco Biscuits. Unfortunately, there is nothing innocent about this dangerous synthetic drug. For example:

  • Drugs sold as Ecstasy actually contain little or none of the original substance – MDMA. They may contain caffeine, aspirin or dangerous illegal drugs such as heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine or LSD. Liquid Ecstasy is often manufactured with toxic materials found in drain cleaner and solvents.
  • Although Ecstasy is sometimes smoked, sorted or injected, it is usually taken in tablet form. The innocuous-looking tablets are manufactured in attractive pastel colors, and they are usually stamped with designs such as hearts, butterflies or stars.
  • A national survey revealed that more than 90 percent of people who use Ecstasy, will eventually move on to other drugs such as meth, heroin, cocaine or marijuana.
  • Teens often underestimate the dangers of the drug and fail to take the risks seriously. However, the formulation of the drug varies from batch to batch, so the strength and resulting “highs” are completely unpredictable.
  • Teens may use Ecstasy because it alleviates normal teen angst about being different or not fitting in. The drug creates feelings of heightened self-confidence and relaxation.
  • Often, teens use the drug solely for the high, which includes LSD-like experiences with altered perceptions of color and sound. In higher doses, the drug often brings about hallucinations terrifying enough to cause severe depression, anxiety, paranoia and psychotic behavior.
  • Heightened sexual experience is another reason for using Ecstasy. Unfortunately, the drug leads to loss of inhibitions, poor judgment and ultimately, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies and sexual assault.
  • Teens generally use Ecstasy in hot environments where body heat is increased by dancing. This can lead to severe dehydration that can damage the heart, liver and kidneys.
  • Teens who are under the influence of Ecstasy often drink more alcohol than they normally would. This is extremely dangerous, as users become extremely intoxicated but still wide awake and alert, which enables them to drink still more alcohol.
  • Many users experience long-lasting effects such as memory problems and depression. Experts aren’t yet sure if these brain changes are permanent or temporary.
  • Other side effects of Ecstasy use included blurred vision, fainting, chills, insomnia, elevated blood pressure and muscle pain and stiffness.

If you are concerned that somebody you care about may be using Ecstasy, watch for signs such as sleep difficulties, skipping school or work, moodiness and irritability, attention problems, teeth grinding or rapid eye movement.

Long-term Ecstasy users may be dependent on the drug and should not stop suddenly. If you are concerned about your use of Ecstasy, consult a physician or treatment center that can help you stop safely. Ecstasy users who have difficulty stopping and staying stopped may need rehab or counseling with experienced addiction professionals.

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