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Ecstasy: An Overview of the Psychoactive, Mind-Altering Drug

By Lizaalexandra11 Apr 22, 2013 1573 Words
How many drugs out there are people afraid of? Quite a few because some of them have deadly side effects. Party- goers, teens, and users of ecstasy feel that the good side effects of the drug outweigh the bad and that it should be legalized. However, ecstasy should remain illegal due to its harmful nature, what it does to the user, and the negative consequences of using it. Ecstasy is a bad drug because of its negative qualities. Ecstasy’s name is 3,4-methylene-dioxy-N-methamphetamine. It is often abbreviated MDMA. Ecstasy is an illegal drug that comes in the form of a pill, powder, or tablet (“What you”). On the street ecstasy is known as XTC, X adam, E, roll, 007, lover’s speed, hug drug, bean, M, clarity, disco biscuits, and Scooby snacks. Ecstasy was developed in a laboratory in 1912 and patented in 1914 (Lopez 6). It is a synthetic drug derived from amphetamines and similar to hallucinogens and methamphetamines (Lopez 6; Schroder 13-140). Some ecstasy tablets only contain a low percentage of MDMA; instead they are filled with other drugs such as LSD, MDA, DMT, PMT, PMA, PCP, GHB, cocaine, ketamine, and cough medicine (Lopez 3). These other drugs make the negative qualities worse than if the user was taking only ecstasy alone.

Due to the high cost and location of where ecstasy is used it is increasingly dangerous to use. This psychoactive, mind-altering drug is popular because it increases openness, euphoria, loving feelings, and empathy as well as energy and stamina (Mehling 16-17; Schroder 13-24). It has stimulant and hallucinogenic properties and one pill, which is one dose, costs between twenty and forty dollars. Some of the most common and immediate side effects are dry mouth, increased heart rate, clenched teeth, blurred vision, and chills (“What you”) Ecstasy is sold everywhere that includes cities suburbs, clubs, bars, college dorms, parties, schools, hotels, and on the internet (Olive 56).

Rave parties are one of the biggest places to find ecstasy users. However, the drug is also used in small groups of friends and often in conjunction with other drugs (Schroder 15). Ecstasy is dangerous because it is used and the condition of the location. For example heat cause by movement at parties can cause high blood pressure and dehydration. The chemicals in ecstasy and what it is cut with make it so dangerous. It can be cut with large amounts of cocaine, LSD, heroin, or acid and could be completely substituted; meaning no MDMA (Olive 54).

The immediate and short term effects of ecstasy prove to be documented as a reason to avoid the use. Ecstasy takes away the sense of fear aggression, defensiveness, distorts time perception, it causes hyperactivity, and inhibits the function of the user’s lungs (Lopez 4; Kuhn, Swartzwelder, Wilson 76). The immediate side effects of ecstasy include, but are not limited to, dilated pupils, dry mouth and throat, nervousness, muscle tension, and involuntary movements. Some elevated heart rate and blood pressure, jaw clenching nausea, vomiting, excessive sweating, chills, blurred vision, and extremely high body temperature. Also panic attacks, depression, paranoia, and suppressed appetite (“Ecstasy: Dancing 2”;Lopez 3-4; Kuhn, Swartzwelder, Wilson 76). These effects begin within thirty minutes of taking the dose of ecstasy and some say last from four to six hours and others say three to eight, depending on the user (“Ecstasy: Dancing 2; Lopez 2-3). High body temperature leads to dehydration which will cause the user to drink large amounts of fluids which can cause over hydration (Lopez 4; Kuhn, Swartzwelder, Wilson 76). The effects of ecstasy can continue beyond active use, which may cause permanent problems with concentration, mood, sleep, appetite, depression and muscle aches (Lopez 3). Large doses of ecstasy also destroy serotonin receptors (Kuhn, Swartzwelder, Wilson 76).

Long term affects of ecstasy use have shown to be detrimental to the user’s health. Ecstasy can cause epileptic- like seizures with compression of the part of the brain that regulates breathing. It also can cause the breakdown of the muscle cells, kidney damage or failure, and blood clotting (Lopez 4). Ecstasy signals neurological nerve cells to release dopamine and serotonin receptors. Serotonin regulates perception, mood, memory, sleep, and emotion; Dopamine regulates how you perceive pleasure and reward it, decision making, and movement (de Seve 2). Ecstasy blocks the transporters that affect the transportation of serotonin and dopamine receptors which regulate important functions of the brain. Too much serotonin and dopamine create feelings of elation, altered perception, and high energy (Lopez 3). Ecstasy use affects many parts of your brain and body.

Ecstasy attacks many different areas of the user’s brain, for example even a small dose for a first time user can cause memory loss (“Ecstasy: Dancing 3”). It can trigger anxiety attacks, psychotic breakdowns, severe periods of depression, and cause brain damage (Spun 3). Ecstasy effects these areas of the users brain, Neocortex which can cause memory impairment, Hypothalamus which can cause hyperthermia, increased thirst, lack of hunger, elevated heat rate and blood pressure, and the Omygdala which can cause disturbed behaviors (de Seve 3). Ecstasy also affects the limbic system, frontal cortex, visual cortex, and brain stem and it interferes with cellular and metabolic process (Olive 36-37). The drug can cause many long term impairments affecting memory, learning ability, impulse control, mood, and sleep (Lopez 5). Ecstasy is a neurotoxin which causes brain cell death. The damage it causes to the serotonin receptors is irreversible or permanent. The psychological effects are also permanent, such as anxiety, depression, and panic disorder (Mehling 56). The longest long term effect that ecstasy can cause is death (Lopez 2-3).

There are heavy legal consequences for using and possessing ecstasy. Drug traffickers smuggle ecstasy into the United States illegally. It is a schedule I drug, which means the drug has a high potential for abuse and is not an accepted drug for medical use (Olive 59). Ecstasy was banned in the mid nineteen-eighties. It was made illegal in nineteen-eighty-five. As of two-thousand-two, it was listed as one of the most abused drugs in America (Spun 2-4). Since ecstasy use and possession is severely illegal, there are heavy consequences for being under the influence or possessing it. Jail sentences are as follows, fifteen months to five years for small amounts, forty-one months to ten years for large amounts, and three to five years for single offences (Olive 71). For traffickers of eight-hundred or more pills there is a minimum sentence of six years for the first offence. If the trafficker had prior convictions for possessing ecstasy, having another charge of possession will mean more jail time and a significantly larger fine (Lopez 6).

Among other consequences, there are social consequences and reasons not to use it. Ecstasy can be used as a date rape drug, which can lead to unintended sexual encounters (olive 36-37; Lopez 6). Using ecstasy can affect the user’s view from society. Ecstasy use protects unsafe sexual practices and peer pressure cans also lead to dangerous situations (Lopez 6). Not only is it a dangerous drug, but it has a high cost and the user lacks the knowledge of what the drug actually contains because it is created in a laboratory. Big dealers and traffickers make about twenty million dollars in one day (Olive 67). A single dose pill will cost the buyer fifteen to twenty dollars per dose, while the stacked pills cost twenty five and up (de Seve 2). The biggest consequence of all is death. Since the drug was made illegal, there have been twenty-seven know deaths (Kuhn, Swartzwelder, Wilson 6). Ecstasy can ruin or even take the life of the user (Spun 2-4).

Though users of ecstasy may assure a first time user that nothing about ecstasy is negative and that the good effects outweigh the bad, there is no good reason to use the drug. Ecstasy will remain illegal due to its harmful nature, what it does to the user and the negative consequences of using it. As stated above there is a vast array of negative consequences associated with using ecstasy. Users should avoid it at all costs to avoid dangerous health and legal problems.

Works Cited
De Seve, Karen. “The Perils of Ecstasy.” Current Health. 2. 32. 6 (2006): 26. Points of View Reference Center. EBSCO. Web. 30. Aug. 2011.
“Ecstasy: Dancing with Mister ‘E’.” (2007) Points of View Reference Center. EBSCO. Web. 30. Aug. 2011. Kuhn, Cynthia. Scott Swartwelder. Wilkie Wilson. Buzzed: The Straight Facts About the Most Used and Abused Drugs from Alcohol to Ecstasy. New York: W.W. North and Company, 2008 Lopez, Marsha F. “Ecstasy (MDMA).” Drugs and Controlled Substances: Information for Students. Ed. Stacy L. Blachford. Detroit. Gale, 2003. 156-164. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 1. Sep. 2011. Mehling, Rand. Hallucinogens. Ed. David Triggle. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers; 2004. Drugs: The Straight Facts. Olive, Foster. Designer Drugs. Ed. David Triggle. Philadelphie: Chelsea House Publishers; 2004. Drugs: The Straight Facts. Schroder, Brock. Ecstasy. Ed. David Triggle. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers; 2003. Drugs: The Straight Facts. Spun, Brandon. “Move Over Prozac, It’s Ecstasy’s Turn.” Insight on the News. 18. 13. (2002):18 Points of View Reference Center. EBSCO. Web. 30. Aug. 2011. “What You Need to Know About Drugs: Ecstasy.” Kids Health. The Nemours Foundation, Aug 2010.Web. 1. Sep. 2011.

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