Pubdate: Thu, 14 Nov 2002
Source: New Times (CA)
Copyright: 2002 New Times
Author: Cameron Clark
Cited: and


On Oct 21, the Tribune printed an Associated Press story regarding ecstasy 
use among teens and the relative obliviousness of parents to it. This is 
the most recent in a slew of stories in the local press demonizing ecstasy, 
which never fail to characterize the drug as highly dangerous or mention it 
alongside cocaine, crack, heroin, LSD, and methamphetamine.

Why the press insists on drawing these parallels baffles me, except that a 
story attacking a popular drug like ecstasy might be good for readership.

According to the AP article by reporter Larry McShane, ecstasy "has been 
linked to damage to the brain, heart, and kidneys."

Over the past three years, I've done considerable research on ecstasy (3, 
4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA), and have never found anything of 
substance to corroborate this.

McShane doesn't cite his references. I suspect these and other references 
come directly or indirectly from the alcohol industry. You see, they're 
infuriated by the popularity of ecstasy  it's in direct competition with 
their own mind-altering wares.

According to, a reference site that objectively describes both 
prescription and illegal drugs, MDMA "is rarely consumed with alcohol, as 
alcohol is believed to diminish its effects."

It's no wonder. Alcohol is a depressant, and tends to make people loud, 
arrogant, and even violent. By contrast, ecstasy increases "feelings of 
peacefulness, acceptance, and empathy." Who'd want to mix the two?

In its pure state, ecstasy is one of the most benign drugs available. No 
wonder that it's hard to detect: inwardly, it does nothing more than cause 
your brain to gush its own seratonin, which is the same thing that happens 
when one is in love or excited.

Outward physiological effects resemble a heady caffeine rush, which will 
also cause "chills or sweating, dehydration, confusion, faintness, severe 
anxiety, grinding of teeth, and a trance-like state." Any caffeine addict 
can corroborate this.

But these effects are usually overstated. Most people who've tried ecstasy 
report a considerable feeling of clear-headedness and well-being. 
Overdosing on it requires about 400 times the normal dosage.

I'm not sanctioning ecstasy use; far from it. But it we hope to be 
effective parents and teachers, w need to be informed rather than 
hysterical. Knowledge is power, and we need to know what the true dangers 
are to our children.

If our kids insist on using drugs, I'd much rather them use ecstasy than 
any other drug available to them, including alcohol. They're far less 
likely to kill themselves or anybody else dancing enthusiastically at a 
party or rave than driving home drunk.

And for once, I'd like to see a doctor quoted on the relative risks of 
certain drugs rather than law enforcement and anti-drug groups.

Parents, you might want to visit and Your kids 
are. They're probably much more informed  than you are. Nobody ever got a 
balanced education just by reading the Associated Press.

Cameron Clark, San Luis Obispo
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