Club Drugs: Ecstasy
In developing prevention efforts that target young people, prevention managers must design strategies to counter the increasing use and widespread availability of the club drug Ecstasy. Known as “the party drug,” Ecstasy is both a stimulant and a hallucinogen, and its effects are potentially life-threatening.
Because it is inexpensive and easily accessible, Ecstasy is gaining in popularity. As reported in the Monitoring the Future Study (National Institute on Drug Abuse NIDA 1999), 3.6 percent of 12th graders, 3.3 percent of 10th graders, and 1.8 percent of 8th graders said they had used the drug in 1998. From 1991 through 1998, use by college students increased from 0.9 percent to 2.4 percent and by adults, from 0.8 percent to 2.1 percent (NIDA, Facts About MDMA, 2000).
What Is Ecstasy?
Ecstasy is the street name for methylene-dioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), a chemical substance that combines methamphetamines with hallucinogenic properties. It is also known as X-TC, Adam, Clarity, and Lover’s Speed.
Like all club drugs, Ecstasy is a combination of other illicit drugs. Because many different recipes are used to make Ecstasy, the risk of death and permanent brain damage are heightened when some substances are combined. It is available in tablet, capsule, or powder form; some manufacturers of the drug package it in capsules or generic tablets to imitate prescription drugs. The average cost is between $7 and $30 per pill.
Among the variations of the drug is a new substance, Herbal Ecstasy, that is composed of ephedrine (ma huang) or pseudoephedrine and caffeine from the kola nut. Sold in tablet form, this drug may cause permanent brain damage and death (NIDA, Club Drugs: Just the Facts, 2000).
What Side Effects Are Produced by Ecstasy?
Ecstasy’s effects can last up to 24 hours. The drug produces immediate side effects, and somesuch as confusion, depression, sleep problems, anxiety, and paranoiacan occur weeks after it is taken (NIDA, Community Drug Alert Bulletin on Club Drugs, 2000).
Because Ecstasy alters serotonin levels in the brain, researchers have found that chronic use can lead to long-term or permanent damage to those parts of the brain critical to thought, memory, and pleasure (NIDA, Facts About MDMA, 2000).
Psychological effects are confusion, depression, sleep problems, severe anxiety and paranoia, euphoria, enhanced mental and emotional clarity, hallucinations, sensations of lightness and floating, depression, paranoid thinking, and violent, irrational behavior.
Physical effects are muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, faintness, chills/sweating, dehydration, hypertension, loss of control over voluntary body movements, tremors, reduced appetite, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke, seizure, and malignant hyperthermia (increase in body temperature).
Club Drugs: Ecstasy