No Ordinary Pill

To most people, the idea of putting a strange, unknown item into their mouth and swallowing it is just absurd. How about you? When someone offers you something, do you normally ask what it is? What's in it? What will it do to you? And if the response is, "Go ahead and try it, it won't kill you," do you comply? Well, maybe you would if the item is some type of food, coming from a person you trust, who has already tried it. But if someone offers you a pill, would you take it without any real knowledge of what's in it?

Because of the ease of simply popping a seemingly harmless pill, you might not really think about the consequences of taking it. At a cost of around $20-50 per dose, one tiny pill with the promise of several hours of feeling high might seem worth it. But before you are so quick to drop that mysterious little pill into your mouth, maybe you should find out just what it actually is you're swallowing and what it can do to you.

Ecstasy is a synthetic amphetamine* that was first discovered in 1912 and was introduced as an appetite suppressant. Since then, it's been discovered that ecstasy is actually a psychoactive** drug with stimulant and hallucinogenic properties. In the 1980's, ecstasy surfaced as a street drug, and by the late 1990's the drug experienced a profound surge in popularity, particularly across college campuses; at concerts, clubs, and raves; and now even in high schools. Scientifically named 3-4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), ecstasy is also known by many other names including E, X, XTC, MDMA, Adam, Decadence, Eve, Herbal Bliss, Gum, Clarity, Essence, Love Drug, Rib, Shabu, and Wafers, to name a few.

Most people use ecstasy in an effort to feel relaxed, confident, and full of positive feelings. Unfortunately, the damage that ecstasy causes can actually do the opposite in the long run. Ecstasy affects the frontal lobe of the brain, an area that specifically impacts interpersonal communication. It is ironic that a drug that is used to enhance social interaction may end up making a person incapable of healthy interaction with others in the long run.

With the myth circulating that ecstasy is safe and all natural, many teens are falling victim to this drug that is in reality very destructive. In fact, the drug is not all natural, it is a mixture of chemicals—some toxic—combined in one pill. One of the most dangerous things about ecstasy is that, oftentimes, it is cut with other drugs such as LSD, speed, or other amphetamines. These "smacky" pills pose a great danger of overdoses, allergic reactions, and increased and more severe side effects than pure ecstasy. Much of what is circulating on the streets today is not pure ecstasy, but you can't tell the difference by looking at it or tasting it. Ecstasy is even more dangerous when taken in combination with other drugs or alcohol. Like ecstasy, alcohol increases dehydration, thus increasing damage to the body. Ecstasy is also known to be addictive for some people.

Also on the market is "herbal" ecstasy, which is distributed legally. Don't be fooled into trying herbal ecstasy as a safer alternative to ecstasy. In fact, the herbal concoctions are composed of various herbs or herbal extracts which can also contain psychoactive elements. What these herbal pills do is cause a person to sweat, tingle, and have an increased heart rate. While the person doesn't get an actual high, these physical reactions can be reminders of a previous high. This doesn't mean that herbal ecstasy is safe—it's not. Many people have ended up in hospitals and some have died as a result of taking herbal substitutes. At the very least, they can cause headaches, nausea, and blackouts. At the very worst, they can lead to shock or heart attack.

Some of the more immediate effects of ecstasy include a surge of energy, suppression of hunger, thirst, and tiredness. Users will often suffer from dehydration or exhaustion at dangerous levels without realizing it. They overexert themselves and place themselves at risk of heart attacks, strokes, seizures, or even death. The short-term effects of ecstasy include nausea, hallucinations, faintness, loss of consciousness, chills, sweating, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, increased body temperature, tremors, involuntary teeth clenching, muscle cramping, blurred vision, and confusion. Long-term effects include anxiety, paranoia, depression, dehydration, hyperthermia, heart failure, liver damage, dental damage, kidney failure, and memory problems.

Ecstasy causes permanent brain damage, can result in an unhealthy rapid weight loss, and can affect emotions, mood, sleep, impulsive behavior, depression, anxiety, memory loss, and learning capabilities. It doesn't seem like all these risks can possibly be worth the experiences. Especially when you consider that the feelings of confidence, love, relaxation, and positive feelings are not real—they are simply brought on by a little pill. It is up to you to decide if it is worth risking your life and health for superficial momentary feelings.

*Amphetamine-1. C9H13N, a colorless, volatile liquid having a characteristic strong odor and burning taste; soluble in alcohol and slightly soluble in water; a nervous system stimulant that depresses blood pressure, appetite, and breathing. Abuse of this substance leads to severe side effects including dependence and possibly induced psychosis. 2. Any of various related compounds having similar effects, such as methamphetamine or dextroamphetamine. (Definition from the Academic Press Dictionary of Science and Technology)

**Psychoactive-Drugs that affect the mind, especially mood, thought, or perception. (Definition from the Substance Abuse Information Database Glossary of Terms)

For More Information
Additional information about MDMA can be found on the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) home page on the World Wide Web at www.drugabuse.gov. Fact sheets and recorded messages about MDMA can also be found on Infofax, NIDA's automated information retrieval system, at (888) 644-6432

Information provided by ForReal.com (Formerly a US Department of Health website that has been offline since about 2004)

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