It is estimated that 94.1 million of the age 12 or older has used an illicit drug at least once in their lifetimes, one of those drugs being Ecstasy. Ecstasy was invented in 1914 as a prescription drug, used to reduce appetite and introduced in 1981 to teens in America, who started using it as a recreational drug. It is estimated that one and a half million E’s are taken every weekend (mostly in teen dance clubs) and although Ecstasy is commonly considered to be a ‘safe drug’, very few reports of bad trips, and only about 50 Ecstasy related deaths last year (which is very slim in comparison to other drug related deaths), it is speculated that the number of deaths caused by the use of Ecstasy is on a rise and will be at an all time high by the end of the year.
Ecstasy (MDMA) is a semi-synthetic drug (used as an appetite suppressant) patented by Merck Pharmaceutical Company in 1914, abandoned for 60 years, and reintroduced by Psychiatrists and Psychotherapists in the late 1970s and early 1980s to facilitate psychotherapy in the United States. The use of Ecstasy was completely legal in the United States until 1985, when it was added to the banned list because it was becoming the drug of choice for American youths (Ecstasy was also placed as a Schedule I drug by the DEA in 1985… meaning 1 .that the drug has a high potential for abuse, 2.the drug has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the US, and 3.that there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug under medical supervision), however, it was about the same time that the drug became illegal that its popularity skyrocketed and spread to dance clubs and the dance culture. Now, due to the effect that the drug has on the body, it seems as if Ecstasy and dance clubs go hand in hand. After the initial consumption of the pill it takes about twenty minutes to an hour to feel the effects which tend to last for three to six hours. People who use E’s at “raves” consider the drug to be a mood elevator that produces feelings of empathy, openness and well-being.. .making it easier to communicate, dance, and feel close to others.
Like any other drug, ecstasy is used by different people for a variety of different reasons and because the drug has such a wide range of effects, it can add excitement and fulfillment to almost any activity. Some of the most common activities that ecstasy users engage in and reasons why people take MDMA are as follows:
1.) Raves. One of the most common settings for the use of Ecstasy is at a rave (a type of dance club). Raves that are on MDMA are usually able to dance for long periods of times, which is the main reason for attending a rave, and because most Ravers are using MDMA, it creates a sense of acceptance and equality. The use of Ecstasy at raves/dance clubs is the greatest cause of death because Ecstasy affects the body temperature control and dancing for long periods of time in a hot atmosphere increases the risk of users overheating and dehydrating (losing too much body fluid) which can be fatal.
2.) Self-psychotherapy. Ecstasy is also used by people who wish to spend the ‘experience’ or the high thinking about their personal problems. MDMA is known by many psychotherapists as a very effective way to for people to deal with personal issues and ‘open up’ and effectively discuss their personal issues with others.
3.) As a replacement for speed. Because Ecstasy is amphetamine, it is also used as a replacement for speed, which is usually used for typical activities that require concentration, motivation, and energy. Some of these activities include, but are not limited to, doing homework, studying, playing video games, dieting, writing, and driving long distances.
4.) The Effect that it has on your senses. MDMA has the ability to make sensual activates very enjoyable and pleasing. When on MDMA, everyday activities, such as touching, hugging, kissing, sexual activity, eating, drinking, and etc, become intensely pleasurable and unusually fun and enjoyable.
Like any other drug in the United States, illicit or licit, MDMA has its share of physical, mental, and emotional side effects. Some side effects include impaired coordination and sense of reality, loss of appetite, dehydration, dilated pupils, tightening of the jaw, brief nausea, sweating, dry mouth/throat, and a rise in heart rate. Ecstasy is also said to inhibit or restrain an orgasm and prevent an erection in some men. However, most women feel more in control of their sexuality and find that the drug helps induce an orgasm. Some women have also found that MDMA can cause their periods to become irregular or to stop completely, while other women have found that it causes theirs to become heavier and last for longer periods of time. A mental/ emotional effect that Ecstasy has on the body is that it can cause the user to feel depressed or moody during the days following the use, which also causing addiction because it’s a way of tricking the person into thinking that they have to use the drug in order to feel ‘normal’. Users have also reported that they experience flashbacks (short vivid re-experiences of part of a previous experience on a drug) after the heavily use of Ecstasy over a long period of time.
Although we know the history of Ecstasy and the effects it has on your body, we don’t know exactly what it is composed of when being illegally sold/distributed (which is common for any drug sold illegally in the United States)? Ecstasy is chemically made from MDMA, which consists of oxygen, carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen. However most Ecstasy, that is sold/distributed on the street, contains little or no MDMA and due to the increased demand for the drug, the purity has decreased and Ecstasy is now laced with other amphetamines or hallucinogens such as speed, LSD, caffeine, ephedrine, ketamine, rat poison, baking soda, and many over the counter or prescribed pain killers. No matter what is in Ecstasy, it generally comes in the form of a small white pill (it kind of resembles aspirin) with different types of pictures printed on the front and back of them.
Regardless of what Ecstasy looks like, you cannot determine its contents without running a test on it. Ecstasy testing kits are portable and discreet testing kits which are quick, easy to use, relatively simple, and inexpensive products which allow people to test unknown pills to help determine their contents. Because the quality of street ecstasy is notoriously poor, having the ability to at least narrow down the possible contents can help reduce the risks associated with the use of street ecstasy. They are important because they can test if a pill contains Ecstasy /MDMA, or if it contains potentially harmful substances (like some of the drugs mentioned above) that are used to lace the pill. Ecstasy testing kits cost around thirty dollars and consist of enough solution for 150 tests (which comes in a child-safe bottle), comes with a scraper, a color reaction chart and lots of information. In order for users to test their pills, they have to scrape off a small piece of the pill and add it to a drop of the solution (Marquis Reagent). The bottle is designed to be held upside down for 5 seconds to get the amount of solution needed for the pill to be accurately tested and to reduce the waste of any of the liquid. A chemical reaction will happen between the liquid reagent and some of the more common chemicals found in ecstasy pills. This reaction may cause the liquid to turn a variety of colors depending on what is in the powder. This color change generally happens within a period of 10-15 seconds after combining the powder and liquid. If the pill contains an Amphetamine, Speed, or Methamphetamine – the liquid will turn yellow/bright orange, if it contains MDMA, MDEA, MBSB or MDA, DXM, or Opiates – the liquid will turn dark purple/ black, if it contains 2C-B, DOM, or DOB – the liquid will turn green/ bright yellow, and if there is no color change, the pill does not contain any noticeable quantities of MDMA/ Ecstasy, MDE, MDA, 2C-B, DOM, DOB, DXM, Methamphetamine, or Amphetamine. There are also chemicals which do not cause a reaction with the testing kits, therefore, just because the pill tests positive for an Ecstasy/MDMA-like substance does not mean that the pill is pure and or safe. The only way to be 100 percent sure that you are safe from harm is to not use drugs at all or to seek professional help, guidance, and counseling for your drug abuse problem.
People who consume more than one drug at a time are called poly-drug users and consuming more than one drug at the same time is known as ‘mixing’. Mixing drugs appeal to some users because one drug might ‘soften’ the side effects of another or the misconception that they’ll get the high/effect from both of the drugs at the same time, making the experience more radical and enjoyable. However, mixing drugs together increases the dangers of drug taking and can result in unpredictable effects and even death because of your body’s reaction to the mixing of the different drugs. For example, taking Ecstasy and Amphetamine is dangerous because they both increase the heart beat which places strain on the heart (the likelihood of dehydration and overheating is also in. creased). Using Ecstasy and LSD can turn a bad trip into a disastrous trip and the comedown from the high difficult and dangerous. Ecstasy, as well as, Alcohol has a tendency to de-hydrate the body, so if the two drugs are mixed while dancing at a club or in a hot unventilated area, the dangers of dehydration and death are greater. Mixing an illicit drug like Ecstasy with a medicine can alter the effects of both the licit and illicit drugs causing dangerous and potentially harmful and sever results.
Tolerance is defined as changes in the body that decrease response to a drug even though the dose remains the same. Although tolerance levels increase when people use Ecstasy regularly, meaning that they would need to use a higher dosage of the drug in order to achieve their high, there is no known risk of addiction and no withdrawal symptoms. According to researchers conducted at Johns Hopkins Medical Institution, heavy Ecstasy users may be risking brain damage that remains after the effects of the drug have worn off. One study that was conducted with rats and nonhuman primates showed that a single dose of MDMA (only slightly larger than the size of Ecstasy pills) significantly damaged brain cells called neurons that produce serotonin. Serotonin is a major neurotransmitter in the brain that influences a person’s mood, appetite, sleep, and other important functions of the body. Experts are concerned that long term use of Ecstasy may increase the risk of severe depression and other mental illnesses later on in life. However, the question still remains whether the neuronal changes seen in animals from MDMA exposure occur in human beings who use the drug regularly.
Although it is illegal to use/abuse illicit and licit drugs in the United States, it still does not change the number of people who do use/abuse drugs. I personally believe that the use of a drug increases when the drug is banned because I Relieve that people (especially teenagers) use drugs to show their disrespect for authority. People have used and will continue to use/abuse illicit and licit drugs, despite our government’s efforts to try and restrict drug abuse and use. However education and knowledge equips ‘at risk’ teens and potential drug users with the information needed to make an educated decision, to use or not use, based on their knowledge of the drug and the effects it has on the body.
Ecstasy is a Class A drug, meaning that it is illegal to possess, give away, or sell it. Passing/sharing drugs among and with your friends is considered supplying and allowing your house or property to be used for drug misuse is also illegal which is punishable by seven years of imprisonment (for users), life imprisonment (for the distribution, selling, and or supplying), a costly fine, or all of the above.
Like I mentioned above, I believe that education plays a large part in the war against drugs. If people are not properly educated about the different drugs in our society, the chances that they might experiment with drugs are greater. I also believe that the majority of money recovered in drug bust should to educating the youth on the different drugs that exist in our society.