Ecstasy – A Growing Menace

Ecstasy, one of several club drugs appearing on the “rave” or all-night party scene, is increasingly becoming the drug of choice among teens. Not only is the drug inexpensive, but teens do not associate a great deal of risk with this drug. However, this colorless, tasteless, and odorless drug that produces increased stamina and intoxicating highs is a silent but deadly menace. It can lead to long-lasting psychological and physical problems and it can even be lethal when used in excessive amounts.

Clinically referred to as 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), ecstasy is known by several street names including “Adam,” “X,” and “XTC.” Use of ecstasy has now spread to a wide range of settings and is no longer restricted to the club scene. In fact, more than 10 million people have tried MDMA at least once, according to the 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Ecstasy’s popularity is clearly linked to its reputation as a harmless party drug that lowers inhibitions, enhances sensations, and produces a relaxed, euphoric state. However, studies have shown that this sense of well-being comes at a great price. Ecstasy’s effects on the brain can include depression, anxiety, paranoia, and severe neurological problems when used over a long period of time. Physical effects can include muscle tension, nausea, blurred vision, kidney failure, and heart attack. Women are particularly threatened because of the high levels of female hormone estrogen, which prevents their bodies from coping with the water retention that occurs as Ecstasy is absorbed into the system. Because ecstasy is mostly created in illegal labs, it is often mixed with other more harmful drugs, which can and do lead to serious health problems.

While it is very hard to know if a friend or a child is using a club drug, there are some warning signs to look for:

  • Memory problems
  • Loss of coordination, dizziness, fainting
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Sleep problems
  • Chills or sweating
  • Slurred speech.

Data show that ecstasy can be addictive for some users. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse 43 percent of young adults and adolescents who reported ecstasy use met the accepted diagnostic criteria for dependence. Almost 60 percent of people who use ecstasy report withdrawal symptoms, including fatigue, loss of appetite, depressed feelings, and trouble concentrating.

To find out more about ecstasy or how to prevent youth drug abuse visit the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy’s The Anti-Drug Web site at

Source: SAMHSA’s National Clearinghouse