HEAVEN must have been frantic when this drug came out.

In this age where substitutes abound in many forms, the possibility of acquiring more hazards than benefits cannot be ignored.

Substitutes for fun may now be taken in available dosages to achieve a blissful feeling that lasts only several hours. The youth have been taking what is “in” rather than what is needed.

For instance, the rise of the ordinary “party pill” has stirred both the users and public’s concern. Widespread fear of its health risks and potential moral damage has resulted in consciousness campaigns from the government and other sectors to warn the public about the drug’s harmful effects.

As early as 1981, MDMA (methylenedioxymetamphetamine), has been introduced in affluent countries. It was then known as a substance that amplified sensations, particularly during sex. MDMA became fashionable. It would later be known as “Ecstasy”.

Considered the best drug to hit the rave and party scene, Ecstasy, which may be swallowed, snorted, injected, or smoked is a prohibited drug that belongs to the addictive amphetamine group. But it has been abused as and mistaken for a stimulant.

The media have somehow contributed to the public’s fascination with the drug. By involving popular names in entertainment, using the drug that heightens the curiosity to the youth is heightened.

Disguised under several names like Love Drug, XTC, E, Adam, Rave, Flying Saucer, and Libido, the pill causes extreme hallucinations and euphoria once induced. This happens when MDMA reaches the neurons, which are responsible for producing serotonin – the chemical messenger in the brain that influences mood, appetite, and sleep, ecstacy induces aggression and sensitivity to pain and heightens sexual experience.

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Hazards

Frequent use of Ecstasy causes extreme memory loss due to the damage on brain areas critical to thought and memory.

The effects are similar to those experienced by amphetamine and cocaine users. Increases in the heart rate and high blood pressure are a major risk for people with circulatory or heart disease. Physical effects include muscle tension, eye wiggling, auditory effects, next-day involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, faintness, and chills or sweating.

Fatalities of the drug come mostly from the so-called rave or party scheme where users take it in order to dance for extended periods. Exhaustion combined with hot, crowded conditions lead to dehydration, high body temperature (hyperthermia), and heart or kidney failure. An overheated and dehydrated body slowly “bakes” the internal organs and shuts the body down, leading to death.

At present, ecstasy is illegal in the Philippines as in most industrialized countries. In an interview with the Varsitarian, Anne (not her real name), a former Ecstasy user, said that the party pill could be bought during big parties in Libis, Makati and Malate, where the police cannot trace the source.

According to her, dealers pay the party organizers so that they can trade or sell the designer drugs. Organizers then provide “chill-out” rooms where E users can recover and prepare for the next dose.

Undercover police are easily spotted in a young crowd. As a result, arrests are hard to come by.

Studies in the US National Institute on Drug Abuse reveal that regular users develop tolerance to the drug and psychological addiction is common.

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“Users crave for more and more to match the first state of euphoria that is not really reached,” Anne said.

The youth may find solace, enhanced sense of pleasure, self-confidence and increased energy in Ecstasy but addiction cannot be stopped after it has destroyed the whole body, physically and psychologically. Young people will have to choose whether to risk their lives for short-term pleasures or endanger themselves in the long run. John Ferdinand T. Buen

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