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Radio Shows | Ecstasy (contributing author - Kathy Cunningham, Ph.D.; UTMB) | mp3wmawav

Today, we'll discuss the lasting effects of a popular party drug.

If you look in the dictionary, the definition of Ecstasy is intense joy or delight. But in the illegal world of drugs world Ecstasy the drug can cause permanent brain damage.

Ecstasy is actually a chemical with 13 syllables: 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA for short. Its use escalated in the 1990s among teens and young adults at nightclubs, concerts and "raves".

It's estimated 5% of Americans 18-24 have used the drug. That's 1.4 million people who also know the drug by its other names like E, Clarity, Essence, Hug Drug, Love Drug and Doves. Users take this popular recreational drug to boost energy, awareness, pleasure and to lower inhibitions.

But they probably don't think about the drug's long list of adverse side effects. They include headaches, chills, eye twitching, jaw clenching, blurred vision and nausea. Psychological problems include confusion, depression, anxiety, paranoia and sleep problems. Increases in blood pressure and heart rate and seizures send some users to the emergency room and even kill them.

MDMA's lasting effects are in the brain. It damages nerve cells that release a neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin influences important brain functions like learning, memory, mood and appetite. Some of the damage may be irreversible.

Areas of the brain that control thinking and memory are especially affected. Even worse, ecstasy may also contain amphetamines, ketamine or even LSD which complicates the effects on the user.

Researchers are now studying the effects of chronic MDMA use. Your best bet? Remember, you don't need a drug to have a good time.

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The National Institute of Drug abuse provides an excellent fact sheet on the so called "Club Drugs" that includes Ecstasy, Rohypnal, KHB, and ketamine. Parents need to read this and discuss the dangers of these drugs with their children before they experiment with them.
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NIDA also has an extensive webpage about Ecstasy.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America is a nonprofit coalition of communication, health, medical and educational professionals working to reduce illicit drug use and help people live healthy, drug-free lives. There you can research drugs of abuse, including ecstasy.
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A Family Guide To Keeping Youth Mentally Healthy & Drug Free is a public education Web site developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to communicate to parents and other caring adults about how they can help promote their child's mental health and reduce his or her risk for becoming involved with alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs including Ecstasy.
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