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Methylene-dioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), commonly known as ecstasy, is a synthetic drug with psychedelic and stimulant effects. Ecstasy is referred to as a club drug because it is often used by youth and young adults attending all night dance parties called raves. Recently, ecstasy use has become more widespread with the drug moving beyond the rave setting into homes, high schools, colleges, and universities.

Ecstasy is inexpensive and accessible, with heaviest use among college-age young adults. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 9.7 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds surveyed in 2000 had used ecstasy at least once in their lifetimes. Research also suggests ecstasy use is higher among young adults who attend college. The Monitoring the Future study showed that in 2000, college and university students were more likely to have tried ecstasy at least once in their lifetimes versus their non-collegiate peers.

Ecstasy is also known by these street names:

X Hug Drug
Adam Lovers’ Speed
X-TC Dolex
B-Bombs Scooby Snacks
Cristal Love Drug
Disco Go
Running Biscuit
Shabu Eve
Bens Iboga
Clarity Pollutants
Dex Wheels
Essence or E Sweeties

Ecstasy is abused because of its ability to alter perception of time and distance, eliciting feelings of well-being, empathy, intimacy, and sensuality. Users claim ecstasy causes euphoria and improves energy, allowing them to dance and stay awake for long periods of time. Ecstasy is usually ingested in capsule, tablet, or powder form, with stimulant effects lasting from three to six hours.

Risk of Ecstasy Use
People who abuse ecstasy are at risk of grave psychological and physical harm. According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), the number of emergency department visits related to ecstasy abuse increased 58 percent from 1998 to 2000. Ecstasyís psychological effects include confusion, depression, anxiety, reduced inhibitions, sleep problems, hallucinations, drug craving, irrational behavior, and paranoia. These effects may last for weeks after taking the drug. Chronic use of ecstasy can lead to permanent damage to the parts of the brain that are essential to memory, thought, and pleasure.

Adverse physical effects of ecstasy use include dehydration, hyperthermia, muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, rapid eye movement, feeling faint, tremors, increased heart rate and blood pressure, sweating or chills, stroke, seizures, and permanent brain damage. People who take ecstasy at raves are at increased risk of dehydration, hyperthermia, and heart or kidney failure due to the combination of the drugís stimulant effects and dancing for long periods of time in hot, crowded clubs.

Additional risks exist due to the illegal nature of ecstasy. Because ecstasy production is unregulated, the drug is usually impure and may be laced with additives. Buyers of ecstasy may be given substitute drugs or adulterants, such as other hallucinogens, caffeine, ephedrine, or even heroin, that can have unknown effects on their bodies. Even if ecstasy does not contain adulterants, the concentration of the ecstasy can vary from dose to dose. All of these factors may lead to accidental overdoses, which may be fatal, and other untoward consequences.

Ecstasy is often abused in combination with other drugs, called ìcafeteria-style use,î leading to increased risk of serious consequences. Ecstasy use may be mixed with taking LSD, mushrooms, methamphetamine, cocaine, prescription drugs, Rohypnol, cough syrup, and heroin. According to DAWN, over 70 percent of emergency department visits in 1999 involved club drugs such as ecstasy used in combination with other drugs.

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