Wow 15 years olds, when I think back on that age, I remember my friends and I focused on boys : ), our favorite songs that was number 1 on the charts, what outfits we were going to wear to the next party, and who was dating who in the teen magazines. We had our whole lives ahead of us, we were going to drive next year and life was good.
Times have changed, there are still young people enjoying a lot of the same things in life today but, many teens and young people are experiencing life through dangerous-mind altering events. Some won’t even be here tomorrow to talk about them with their friends.
This holds true for a young and adorable 15 year old girl who collapsed during the Electric Daisy Carnival ‘rave’ in June. Her death resulted in an ecstasy (MDMA) overdose according to the coroner. She was pronounced dead at California Hospital Medical Center on June 29th, days after she arrived in a coma. More than 100 young people were taken to local hospitals, mostly from drug intoxication.
MDMA is a man-made drug that causes hallucinogenic and stimulant effects. Many young people use this drug because it heightens their senses and makes them feel free, confident and less self-conscious and uptight. Another reason teens and young people say they use this drug is because it helps them dance for hours at all-night parties, nightclubs and raves. This drug is also used in private homes and on college campuses.
Some young people admit they use MDMA as part of a multiple-drug experience that includes marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, ketamine, and other legal and illegal substances. MDMA (ecstasy) is not only addictive to some people and dangerous to abuse, but when mixed with other substances can be lethal.
In the late 1980s this drug became quite popular with college students; they liked the fact that the drugs made them feel alert and relaxed but didn’t make them feel hyperactive. After the 1990s the use of this drug began to decline until 2005 and 2006. First time users increased by 40 percent and almost half of them were under the age of 18 according to some studies. In 1985, this illegal drug was classified as a Schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule 1 drugs include heroin and LSD because they have high potential for abuse and have no legitimate medical purpose.
Why are teens and young people abusing this drug?
There are no legitimate medical uses for MDMA in the United States. Those who abuse this drug do so to experience euphoria, increased energy, increased (sexual) sensual arousal, an increased need to be ‘touched and hugged’, and the need for stimulation is increased. The problem is when this drug is abused over time, there can be psychological and physical damage associated with the abuse. There is confusion, anxiety, depression and paranoia. These effects may last weeks after using. When abused in high doses, it can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate temperature resulting in hyperthermia which can lead to liver, kidney and cardiovascular failure. There have been other negative effects reported as well, they include:
- Involuntary teeth clenching
- Muscle cramps
- Blurred vision
What does it look like, and are there withdrawals?
MDMA comes in pill, tablet or capsule form. Another disturbing fact is that they come in different colors and sometimes have cartoon-like images on them. Popular logos or images include smiley faces, clover leaves, cartoon characters, and symbols that are associated with Mitsubishi, Nike, and Mercedes. This drug may be innocent looking but the effects are dangerous and sometimes lethal. Some users take more than one pill at a time; this is referred to as ‘bumping.’ The street names that are associated with this drug are Ecstasy (most common), E, XTC, X, Adam, Hug, Beans, Clarity, Lover’s speed and the Love drug.
Withdrawal symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Depressed feelings
- Trouble with concentration
There are no specific treatments for MDMA abuse and addiction. Cognitive behavioral interventions that are designed to help change the patient’s thinking and behaviors are used to help educate and increase skills in coping with life and stress. Drug abuse support groups can also be effective.
Raves are all night dance parties and this is a gathering where Ecstasy abuse is quite popular. As time goes on, the more popular they become. There appears to be clusters of overdose events that take place during or after these dance parties.
18 people landed in hospital emergency rooms for illnesses relating to the hallucinogenic drug within 12 hours after a Los Angeles New Year’s Eve rave. The Los Angeles Department of Public Health investigation also reported in June about a healthy 24 year old man that died at home the day after a rave.
In the San Francisco Bay area, 2 young people died from an ecstasy overdose and 8 others were hospitalized after a May 29th rave. This was less than 6 months after the L.A. cases.
A physician at a hospital nearby triggered another investigation. 30 patients who had attended the rave ended up in the emergency departments. One was a trauma case, the rest were drug or alcohol intoxication. 16 reported themselves that they had used ecstasy and 12 were toxicologically confirmed cases.
There are also times when young people think they’re taking ecstasy but tragically, it isn’t. There is no way to be certain. An 18 year old named Sara was offered a potent brand of ecstasy known as ‘double stack white Mitsubishi’. These were supposed to be the hottest version of ecstasy around at the time. Within hours, she went into convulsions and had to be hospitalized. Her temperature rose to 108 degrees and she lapsed into a coma. By 3 the next afternoon, she had died. As it turned out, it wasn’t ecstasy after all; it was PMA a much more dangerous chemical.
This is sad, because of the frequent use of ecstasy (MDMA) at raves, 14 ambulances and roving emergency medical technicians had to accompany police and undercover narcotic officers to the Los Angeles New Year’s rave. They mingled with the 45,000 people attending the rave because due to frequent use of the drug, they would be needed.
This is happening everywhere, not just L.A. We need to get the message out to our young people, experimenting with drugs and abusing them is not only dangerous but many times lethal.
Websites used in this article
KTTV FOX 11 Los Angeles: http://www.myfoxla.com/dpp/news/local/coroner-teen-died-of-ecstasy-overdose-20100831
New York Times: http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/subjects/e/ecstasy_drug/index.html
MedPage Today: http://www.medpagetoday.com/PublicHealthPolicy/PublicHealth/20614
MDMA (Ecstasy) Info Facts