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Ecstasy (MDMA)

Ecstasy, Rohypnol, ketamine, and GHB are common drugs used by young adults and teens that are part of a rave, trance, nightclub, or bar scene. Raves are all night dance parties commonly held in warehouses. Those who use these drugs at such events may be attracted to their low cost and intense highs that supposedly enhance the rave experience. Scientific studies however show that these drugs change critical parts of the brain.

Ecstasy is a psychoactive synthetic drug that is chemically similar to the hallucinogen mescaline and the stimulant methamphetamine. Ecstasy was once used mostly in clubs, studies now show that the drug is used in different social settings. High doses of ecstasy can interrupt the regulation of temperature in the body. Hyperthermia sharply increases the bodies temperature in some cases leading to kidney, liver, and cardiovascular system failure. Potentially harmful levels can be reached by multiple drug use episodes in short periods of time, since ecstasy can interrupt its own metabolism.

Research in humans implies that frequent ecstasy use can change brain function by affecting cognitive memory and tasks. Ecstasy can also lead to depression symptoms many days after use. These symptoms might take place because of ecstasy effects on neurons that depend on the chemical serotonin to communicate with other neurons. Serotonin plays an integral role in the regulation of aggression, mood, sleep, sexual activity, and sensitivity to pain. Ecstasy users can potentially face many of the same risks that other stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines can provide.

A research study in nonhuman primates showed that ecstasy exposure for four days caused serotonin damage in nerve terminals that were evident six to seven years later. While similar neurotoxicity has not been proved in humans, the amount of animal research suggests that ecstasy has definite damaging properties and is not a safe drug for human consumption.

According to the Monitoring the Future survey, there was a significant increase perceived harmfulness associated with using ecstasy occasionally, in 2004. There was an increase in disapproval of taking it once or twice. Twelfth grade students claimed a significant increase in disapproval associated with taking the drug once or twice. Eighth, tenth, and twelfth graders believed there was a decrease in the drug’s availability.

GHB and Rohypnol are central nervous system depressants. Since they are often tasteless, odorless, and colorless they can easily be added to beverages and unknowingly ingested. These drugs emerged many years ago as “date rape” drugs.

GHB (gamma hydroxy butyrate) has had abuse problems in the U.S. due to its euphoric, sedative, and anabolic body building effects. GHB is a dangerous central nervous depressant that was readily available over the counter in health food stores during the 1980s and until 1992. Its users were primarily body builders to reduce fat and build muscle. Other names for GHB are soap, easy lay, liquid ecstasy and vita-G.

Seizures and coma can result following GHB abuse. Combining it with other drugs like alcohol can result in nausea and breathing abnormalities. Other GHB withdrawal effects include insomnia, anxiety, sweating, and tremors. GHB and two of its former substances, gamma butyrolactone (GBL) and 1,4 butane diol (BD) have had links to overdoses, poisonings, date rapes, and deaths.

Ketamine is an approved anesthetic for both human and animal use in medical settings. Most of the legally sold ketamine is intended for veterinary use. Ketamine is also known as special K or vitamin K. It can be snorted or injected. ketamine can produce hallucinations and dream like highs. In large doses, it can cause delirium, amnesia, high blood pressure, depression, impaired motor function, and fatal respiratory problems.

Rohypnol, is a benzodiazepine tranquilizer. Rohypnol can incapacitate victims and make them vulnerable for sexual assault, when mixed with alcohol. It can also cause anterograde amnesia, which means victims might not remember what they experienced while intoxicated by the drug. Rohypnol can also be deadly when it is mixed with alcohol or other downers.

Rohypnol is not legal in the United States. Illegal use of the drug began in the U.S. in the early 1990s, when it became to be known as Rophies, Roofies, rope, and roach. In some parts of the country, two other similar drugs have appeared to replace Rohypnol. Clonazepam which is sold in the U.S. as Klonopin, and Alprazolam, generic for Xanax are common substitutes. 

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