ecstasy and teens

Your Teenager and MDMA (Ecstasy): Understanding the Party Drug

Teenagers are often highly experimental and risk-taking individuals. At times, their desire to try new sensations can lead to drug taking. Feelings of depression, anxiety or a need to fit in with a social group can also be factors in drug consumption. Along with alcohol and marijuana, MDMA or Ecstasy has become one of the most popular drugs of choice for adolescents. Understanding what it is, why it appeals to this age bracket and what the side effects are can assist you in determining how to deal with your teenager’s drug habit.

What is MDMA?

MDMA is the clinical term for the chemical substance more commonly known as Ecstasy, as well as Adam or the Love drug. It is produced in laboratories, sold as pure MDMA or mixed with other drugs from caffeine and amphetamines, to cocaine, heroin and speed. The substance works similarly to the drug Prozac in stimulating the seratonin receptors in the brain. According to the MDMA association, the drug “is usually taken orally as a tablet, a capsule or a powder.” The pills often look like candy. They have pictures or logos stamped on them to appeal to youth.

Why is it Popular?

MDMA is considered to be a party drug. It is usually consumed at large gatherings such as raves. <href=”#MDMA_abusers”>When someone is on Ecstasy, they can be suffused with feelings of warmth and emotional intensity. Teenagers report increases in energy, euphoria, talkativeness, high sociability and the capacity to dance or engage in sexual activity for an extended period of time. They can also experience a racing heart, a clenched jaw and nausea or dizziness. At times they hallucinate. The “effects of MDMA last 3 to 6 hours,” states the MDMA site, though teens will often take more than one pill to lengthen the effects. Additionally, the drug is cheap. One pill can cost as little as five dollars in Canada.

What are the Side Effects?

When on Ecstasy, the greatest danger for a teenager is dehydration. The drug saps bodily fluids and, as it is often taken in over-heated and crowded environments, the dangers of dehydration increase. Fainting or blacking out is also common. Over-consumption of water at these times can be deadly too, while alcohol taken in combination with ecstasy is to be avoided. For days after the drug is taken, your teenager may suffer from depression, difficulties sleeping and concentrating, and mood swings including bouts of aggression and potential paranoia. Long term effects for addicts can include liver or brain damage. A survey from the US Drug Enforcement agency “indicates that 6.3% of high school students reported using MDMA at some point in their lifetimes.” These statistics appear to be on the rise. If your teenager is using ecstasy, discuss counselling and anti-depressant options with them and your family doctor.