Guest column<br><br>Ecstasy: the “hug drug”; first line of defense is the parents<br>

What is MDMA?

MDMA (3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, also known as ecstasy) is a synthetic, illegal drug that causes both hallucinogenic and stimulant effects. The drug was developed in Germany in the early twentieth century as an appetite suppressant, but today’s users consume the drug for its hallucinogenic effects, which they claim heightens their senses and makes them feel less inhibited. Users also consume MDMA for its stimulant properties which enables them to dance for hours at all night parties and nightclubs.

What does it look like?

MDMA generally is sold in tablet form and is taken orally. MDMA tablets are available in various colors and shapes and generally are imprinted with a logo. Popular logos include smiley faces, clover leaves, cartoon characters and symbols associated with commercial brands such as Mitsubishi, Nike and Mercedes.

Who uses it?

Most MDMA users are teenagers or young adults. More than 10 percent of high school seniors have tried MDMA at least once, and more than two percent have used the drug in the last month, according to the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future Survey. MDMA users typically come from middle and upper class households. MDMA is inexpensive. The average retail price of an MDMA tablet is between $20 and $30, making it attractive and accessible to younger users.

MDMA is called a club drug because it is often is used at techno parties and nightclubs. In addition, MDMA increasingly is being used in private homes and on high school campuses.

What are the risks?

The effect produced by consuming MDMA can last four to six hours, depending on the potency of the tablet. Using the drug can cause confusion, depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, craving for the drug, and paranoia. Use of the drug may result in muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, tremors, rapid eye movement, sweating, or chills. People who have circulatory problems or heart disease face particular risks because MDMA can increase heart rate and blood pressure.

MDMA may expose psychological illnesses in the user.

MDMA abusers also risk dehydration, hyperthermia (exceptionally high fever), and heart or kidney failure if they use the drug while physically exerting themselves or in hot environments.

Users are also risk consuming other drugs that may be sold as MDMA. In some instances, the synthetic drug PMA (paramethoxyaphetamine) has been sold as MDMA. Because the PMA’s hallucinogenic effects take longer to appear, users may consume too much of the drug, which can result in an overdose death.

What is it called?

The most common names for MDMA are ecstasy, E, Adam and XTC. Other street names include Cristal, Clarity, Go, Hug drug, Love drug, X and Wheels.

For more information about ecstasy or any other drug, please contact the Williams Alliance Against Drug Abuse/Citizens Against Substance Abuse at 779-5361 or www.usdoj.gov/ndic. This information is provided courtesy of WAADA and CASA.

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