Tony Bylsma CCDC*
The controversy continues, the drug flows. Without accurate information about
the dangers of this or any drug, potential users
can be easily mislead.
Not since the 1960s has the
world witnessed a drug phenomenon like the rapid
and widespread emergence of ecstasy and the growing group of drugs that are loosely
and very unofficially classified as “club
drugs”. Apparently the term club drug
refers to the fact that these are quite
prevalent at large parties called “raves” or
“trances”. Included in this group of
drugs are five that we are getting more and more
questions about in classrooms and from teachers.
This is the first in a series of articles that
will discuss the main drugs in this group.
Described by enthusiasts as a source of intense
euphoria and by detractors as a cause of brain
damage and even death, Ecstasy has brought about
unprecedented levels of interest -- and
misinformation. While Ecstasy is found across
America in living rooms and dance clubs,
reliable information about the drug is not.
known as Ecstasy, or MDMA, is structurally
similar to a combination of methamphetamine (speed) and the hallucinogen
MDMA is not a new drug, in fact
it was patented in 1913 (patent #274.350) by the
German chemical company Merck supposedly to be
sold as a diet pill (the patent does not mention
any intended use). Merck decided against
marketing the drug and had nothing more to do
with it. According to urban legend, the US army
tested MDMA in 1953 as a possible truth serum,
but there is no known evidence supporting this.\
In the seventies some doctors
were researching the use of MDMA to facilitate
counseling, but it was found to have too many
damaging side effects. The FDA banned MDMA
in 1985 making it illegal for any use throughout
the U.S. and placed it in the same drug
classification as LSD and heroin: a classification that includes the statements
“no accepted medical use”, “lack of
accepted safety for use” and “high potential
for abuse”. Then some fool named it
“Ecstasy” and everybody had to have some.
MDMA is taken orally, usually in the form of a
tablet or capsule, the effects of which can
last up to six hours. Users claim that
it gives a heightened sense of compassion, the
desire to be close with others and the ability
to dance for hours on end. Because
of the speed effect, MDMA can suppress the
urge to eat, drink or sleep, enabling users to
endure two to three day marathon parties.
Consequently, MDMA use sometimes results in
severe dehydration or exhaustion. Physical
signs include dilated pupils, increased blood
pressure and heart rate. MDMA use has
also resulted in deaths from hyperthermia (a
soaring fever), liver and kidney damage.
MDMA can cause long-term
damage, even if that damage isn't immediately
visible. In monkeys, exposure to
MDMA for only four days caused brain damage that
was still evident six to seven years later.
The same study provides further evidence that
people who take MDMA may be risking permanent
Your brain cells, in fact all
the cells in your whole nervous system, run on a
system of electricity and chemicals. Drugs
affect the body by manipulation of these;
forcing the release of some chemical or other,
inhibiting the transfer of messages along the
nerve channels or fooling the whole operation by
imitating a nervous chemical.
Communication of information between nerve cells
is accomplished by movement of chemicals across
the small gap between them called the synapse.
These chemicals are known as neurotransmitters,
and there are about 60 of them, each apparently
with its own specific message. One
neurotransmitter might communicate the message to eat; another
sends a signal of fatigue or of fear.
Serotonin, the nervous
chemical most affected by MDMA, has a lot to do
with mood, feelings of pleasure and the ability
to think and remember. MDMA forces
unnaturally large amounts of serotonin to be
released into the brain, causing the user to
experience artificial feelings of empathy or
well being. But there isn’t an unlimited
supply of serotonin in the nervous system and it
can’t be replenish as rapidly as it is used
under the influence of MDMA, resulting in
depression, often severe.
MDMA is also related in structure and effects
to methamphetamine, which has been shown to
cause degeneration of nerve cells containing
another neurotransmitter, dopamine.
Damage to these nerve cells is the underlying
cause of the motor disturbances seen in
Parkinson's disease. Symptoms of this disease
begin with lack of coordination and tremors,
and can eventually result in a form of
THE ATTRACTION OF
MDMA is a money maker. Those who
are manufacturing the drug are making a killing.
(Pun intended.) The cost of MDMA pills on
the street ranges from $15 to $45 each.
Meanwhile, it costs as low as 2 cents to 25
cents per dose to manufacture them. This high
profit margin is one of the factors encouraging
MDMA importation to the U.S.
Don't think for an instant that
somebody making that kind of money isn't going
to promote what they sell. MDMA is
advertised. The fact that it's illegal
just changes the marketing strategy a bit.
The name, "Ecstasy" alone is worth
millions in sales. Every time it's used it
calls up pictures of delight and pleasure.
This name didn't come about by accident, it was
a marketing coup.
So what can be done?
Declare war against MDMA? We can't afford
another war against drugs that accomplishes
Our job is to make people,
especially young people aware of the truth --
that they are being told lies about MDMA and
that it is a dangerous drug that can result in
permanent disabilities or even death.
Mr. Tony Bylsma, a *Certified
Chemical Dependency Counselor and Executive
Director of Narconon Drug Prevention & Education, has since 1980
educated many thousands of students on the
dangers of drugs. In addition he has years of
experience in rehabilitating drug addicts. He
can be reached at 1-888-966-3784.