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Effects Of Mdma Essay, Research Paper

Ecstasy: Invading the Youth

The War on Drugs is a lost cause. The United States has spent hundreds of billions of dollars and lost thousands of lives. The result is any adult or child with a couple measly dollars can purchase any existing illegal drug almost anywhere in the country (Greer 6/24/98). The emergence of a new designer drug (a combination of two existing drugs) “ecstasy,” which is the most common street term for the illicit drug MDMA (+/-3,4Methylenedioxymethamphetamine), has brought a fatal blow to the War on Drugs. The “love drug,” as MDMA is sometimes referred to, has spread from its previously isolated dwellings within the darkness of the “rave” scene (a rave is an all-night illicit dance party), into high schools across the United States and Canada. “Police say the manufacture, smuggling, and availability of ecstasy are booming” (Oh 4/24/00). The tremendous increase of ecstasy use is due to its escalating social acceptability, the perceived safety of the drug, and the influence of peer testimonies. This dramatic proliferation of the use of “X” is something that urgently needs to be addressed.

A succinct application of existing drug enforcement venues would aid in the curtailing of this profound drug. The application should be the integration of education about “E” into elementary and middle schools, reaching children as young as the fifth grade. To provide a general perception of the dramatic increase in the drug’s use, here is a statement from one of the top drug enforcement directors in the United States: “The White House’s drug policy director, Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey…warned that [E] was posing a particularly serious threat to children. He cited a nationally recognized survey showing a sharp rise in the number of high school seniors who said they had used ecstasy in the previous month from 1.5 percent in 1998 to 2.5 percent in the following year. [He followed by saying] ‘The use of ecstasy has skyrocketed,’” (Hernandez 8/2/00). To put those numbers in real terms: if last year 3 of every 200 high school seniors ate at least one E pill each, last October, then this year 5 out of 200 high school seniors ate at least on E pill each, this October. Keep in mind that some rural schools have much lower numbers, while schools near big cities (especially on the coasts) have much higher numbers. From a personal vantage point, I would say that about 25 out of my class of 150 at least experimented with the drug, and probably 15 or so were regular users (regular, meaning on a monthly basis).

You may be asking yourself: “Why is an illicit drug spreading at such a rapid rate?’ This is a very legitimate question. The answer lies in the opinions of young people. Experts say, “…It is difficult to say exactly how many people are experimenting with the drug (Hernandez 8/2/00).” As a young person, I will tell you that it is not difficult to say. If you think that drug use is uncommon in most high school environments then you are dead wrong. I went to a private high school, and had friends who went to two different public high schools, and if a student at one of these schools did not use any type of drug him/herself then he/she certainly knew peers who did. In high schools, among people who use drugs, there is an unwritten social acceptability rule. In other words there are the drugs that users brag to their friends about getting “high” off of, or whatever, and there are the drugs that even other users look down upon. The most socially acceptable are alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, psycobin mushrooms, and LSD or lysergic acid diethylamide, in that order (yes, marijuana is becoming more socially acceptable than nicotine). The least socially acceptable drugs are (starting with the least) are heroin, GHB/Rohypnol (date rape drugs), crack cocaine, cocaine, and speed/methamphetamines. The acceptability of these drugs proceeds in a somewhat structured order: the most accepted is the least harmful, and the least accepted is the most harmful. Ecstasy is the catch 22, if you will. It falls somewhere between tobacco and “magic” mushrooms on the acceptability list; yet, its danger lies somewhere between methamphetamines and LSD. A researcher, Dr. Ricaurte from Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore, says, “Our immediate concern is that people who use MDMA recreationally are unwillingly putting themselves at a risk of developing brain injury” (Radford 10/30/98). Does it make sense? No. But, I am not fabricating this information to scare or confuse anyone; I am merely conveying what I have witnessed.

Additionally, another prominent reason for the tremendous spread of ecstasy use is its presumed safety. Because MDMA is so new, research is in its infancy and the side effects are relatively unknown. But compared to heroin, cocaine and other “harder” illicit drugs, “It causes relatively fewer problems,” says Cpl. Jocelyn Chagnon of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s Drug Awareness Service (Oh 4/24/00). For this reason, young people use the drug much more often. However, the long-term effects can be extremely detrimental. “Users of the drug [will] be more likely to have a higher incidence of depression in life…” because MDMA damages the nerves in the brain that release serotonin, which plays a role in mood, memory, pain perception, sexual desire, sleep, and appetite. These effects are less detrimental then the physical dependencies caused by heroin and cocaine, but they are far from healthy. (Radford 10/30/98) Lastly, there are the stories of a first experience. What strikes an adolescents brain louder than a personal testimony from a friend? Probably nothing. This is a huge aspect of the drug’s proliferation. Surprisingly, these so-called “experts” rarely scratch the surface of the power of personal experiences. This is probably because of the content of the recounts. Here is one example I found out of the dozens of articles I have read about ecstasy. “Despite the danger, ecstasy still has great word of mouth. ‘I felt appreciative of everything- family, friends, myself,’ says Eric Malinski, 20, a business student at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario. ‘When you’re on it, you perceive all the good in the world.’…” (MacLean’s, Oh 4/24/00). Sounds like a horrible drug…. Actually, this account is rather mild.

When asked: what was it like? I have heard people say that it was the greatest feeling they have ever had in there entire lives. This transmission of the overwhelming approval of the drug’s effect needs to be prevented. Total prevention is an arduous task. Actually, it is impossible. For this reason, I propose education as a resolution. To install education within the youth, as young as fifth grade, would be the most efficient way to curtail the spread of ecstasy use. For the elementary age students the “Just Say No!” method of drug education is fairly effective. So, adding ecstasy to the list of “don’ts” would suffice. But, as children reach middle school age the “Just Say No!” tactic is rather ineffective. Adolescents do not want to be preached to, trust me I am one. I suggest making addicts, or dealers, who have been arrested, speak on the subject as part of their community service. When I was at that real impressionable age, 13-14, the only teachings that hit me about drugs were true-life stories from people who actually used the drugs themselves. What does a straight-and-narrow gym teacher know about ecstasy? Police officers may know a great deal, but because they are in that authoritative position, they have less influence then a common person. A user, or a user’s friend, a dealer, or a dealer’s friend, would have the longest lasting effect on those young teenagers. The more ruined the person’s life because of the drug; the harder their words will hit the adolescents.

On the contrary, the U.S. Government insists on attempting to stop the influx of the drug into the states. As with all the other illicit drugs, this is a losing effort. Granted the number of pills seized increases every year, “Inspectors at Newark International [where ? of all the pills confiscated in the U.S. are found] seized 20,000 tablets in 1998. The following year, the number of seizures jumped to 444,000. From January through March 31 of 2000, Customs inspectors here have found 120,000 of the drug tablets” (Fields, Leinwand 4/19/00). “8 million doses were seized at airports, and other ports of entry, far exceeding the 750,000 doses in 1998, and the 3.5 million confiscated 1999…” (Hernandez 8/2/00). They are seizing more pills every year, but by the same token more pills are slipping past customs and coming into the country. This is because of the high demand for the drug, along with the appealing profit margin (a pill made for 50 cents in Amsterdam, where MDMA is legal, can sell for as much as 40 dollars in the U.S.) (Hernandez 8/2/00). As long as people want them, the E is going to manage to find a way to get here. I am not saying that efforts to stop the influx should be completely dismissed, that would be suicide. But, the concentration of funds and efforts ought to be shifted to education. This would hinder the demand for the drug by turning youth away from using MDMA.

In conclusion, Ecstasy is a new and rapidly growing drug plague and cannot be taken lightly. I petition you, the parent, to see that actions be taken within your communities’ schools to thoroughly educate your children. If you fail to do so then do not be surprised to hear that your own child gets hopped up on E pills every weekend and dances around loving everybody. Your ignorance can lead to your own child’s self-destruction.



Gary and Donna Leinwand. “Customs-trained Drug Dogs Sniff Out Ecstasy at Airports.” USA Today. April 19, 2000

Greer, Mark. “Letters to the Editor: Prohibition is Immoral.” The Wall Street Journal. June 24, 1998.

Hernandez, Raymond. “In New Drug Battle, Use of Ecstasy Among Young Soars.” New York Times. August 2, 2000.

Oh, Susan. “The Dark Side of Ecstasy.” Maclean’s. April 24, 2000

Radford, Tim. “Ecstasy ‘Injures Brain for Life.’” The Guardian. October 30, 1998.

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