Drugs

 

Alcohol, Other Drugs and Crime

The relationship between alcohol, other drugs and crime is extremely complex. Alcohol and other drugs may encourage aggression or violence by disrupting normal brain function, and according to the Dis-inhibition Hypothesis, for example, alcohol weakens brain mechanisms that normally restrain impulsive behaviors, including inappropriate violence. However, most crimes result from a variety of factors (personal, situational, cultural, economical), so even when drugs are a cause, they are likely to be only one factor of many.

 

Offenders reporting being under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the offense
Current Offenses Percent under the influence of drugs at the time of the offense
Federal State Both
All inmates 17% 31% 48%
Violent Offenses 25% 28% 53%
Homicide 18% 28% 46%
Sexual assault 10% 20% 30%
Robbery 29% 38% 67%
Assault 20% 23% 53%
Other violence 15% 24% 39%
Property offenses 13% 35% 48%
Burglary 53% 40% 93%
Larceny/theft 24% 37% 61%
Drug offenses 16% 37% 53%
Public-order offenses 12% 18% 30%
Source: BJS, Comparing Federal and State Prisons Inmates, 1991. Fact Sheet: Drug-Related Crime, April 1997, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

 

The evidence indicates that drug users are more likely than non-users to commit crimes, often under the influence of a drugs and/or alcohol at the time the offenses are committed. As with offenders, many times it is the victims who are under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs which increase the victims vulnerability to resist attacks.

The need for preventing alcohol and other drug problems is clear when the number of offenders who report being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol at the time of an offense is alarmingly high; these numbers may be under-reported. Sexual assaults, for example, are under-reported; in 45% of lone-perpetrator rapes, offenders were perceived by their victims to be under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs, only 30% of the offenders reported being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol at the time of the offense.

Assessing the nature and extent of the influence of drugs on crime requires that reliable information about the offense and the offender be available, and that definitions be consistent; it is otherwise impossible to say quantitatively how much drugs and/or alcohol influence the occurrence of the crime, though, it is clear that a correlation exists.

 

Youth and Underage Drinking

 

Prevalence of drinking in different age groups:

  • Peer pressure begins early. One-third of 4th graders and more than half of 6th graders say they have been pressured by friends to drink alcohol.
  • On average, young people begin drinking at about age 13, but some start even younger. By the time they are high school seniors, more than 80% have used alcohol and approximately 64% have been drunk. When adolescents move on to college, they bring their drinking habits with them: more than 40% of college students are binge drinkers.
  • In 1998, 10.4 million current drinkers were under legal age (age 12-20). Of these, 5.1 million were binge drinkers, including 2.3 million heavy drinkers. Young people begin to take risks and experiment as they transition from childhood to adulthood. Without support and guidance, some young people may engage in behaviors that place them and others at risk—including using alcohol.

 

Adolescents’ beliefs about alcohol:

  • Very young children—even preschoolers—can tell that alcohol has an effect on people that other beverages do not. In fact, children begin forming opinions about alcohol at an early age, and they tend to view it negatively.
  • Boys’ beliefs tend to be more favorable toward drinking than those of girls. Boys also tend to associate drinking with being more grown up—a perceived positive outcome of drinking.
  • Adolescents’ ages 12 to 14 believe that the positive benefits of drinking (feeling good, fitting in with peers) are more likely to occur than the negative effects of drinking (feeling sick, causing serious health problems). White non-Hispanic children tend to hold more favorable beliefs about alcohol than African American children.
  • Youth ages 12 to 14 who expect to gain greater social acceptance from drinking are more likely to begin to drink as well as to consume alcohol at faster rates. White non-Hispanic children tended to be more concerned with their friends’ attitudes about alcohol than African American children were.
  • Adolescents ages 12 and 13 see other people, including their parents, as less disapproving of their engaging in drinking than do younger children.
  • 56% of students in grades 5 through 12 say that alcohol advertising encourages them to drink.
  • In an annual survey of adolescents, 56% of 8th graders, 52% of 10th graders, and 43% of 12th graders believe that having five or more drinks once or twice each weekend is harmful. Survey results also show that 81% of 8th graders, 70% of 10th graders, and 65% of 12th graders, disapprove of this quantity and rate of alcohol consumption.
  • 75% of 8th graders and 89% of 10th graders believe that alcohol is readily available to them for consumption.
  • 80% of 12- to 17-year-olds surveyed think that alcohol negatively affects scholastic performance, and 81% believe it increases the likelihood of getting into trouble.
  • 22% of youth under age 18 report drinking at least once a week.

 

 

Risk factors for adolescent alcohol use:

The reasons why adolescents use alcohol are complex but include curiosity, a need to fit in with friends, and a desire to relax and escape problems. For some, additional factors may be involved.

Highlights from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Alcohol Alert on Youth Drinking include the following risk factors:

  • Genetic Factors: Children of alcoholic are significantly more likely to initiate drinking during adolescence and to develop alcohol use disorders, but the relative influences of environment and genetics have not been determined, and they vary among young people.
  • Childhood Behavior: Research has shown that children who are very restless and impulsive at age 3 are twice as likely to be diagnosed with alcohol dependency at age 21. Aggressiveness in children as young as ages 5 to 10 has been found to predict alcohol and other drug use in adolescence.
  • Psychiatric Disorders: Among 12- to 16-year-olds, regular alcohol use has been significantly associated with conduct disorder; in one study, adolescents who reported higher levels of drinking were more likely to have conduct disorder. Whether anxiety and depression lead to or are consequences of alcohol abuse is unresolved. In a study of college freshmen, a DSM-III diagnosis of alcohol abuse or dependence was twice as likely among those with anxiety disorder as those without this disorder. In another study, college students diagnosed with alcohol abuse were almost four times as likely as student without alcohol abuse to have a major depressive disorder. In most of these cases, depression preceded alcohol abuse. In a study of adolescents in residential treatment for alcohol and illicit drug dependence, 25% met the DSM-III criteria for depression—three times the rate reported for controls. In 43% of these cases, the onset of alcohol and/or illicit drug dependence preceded the depression; in 35%, the depression occurred first and in 22%, the disorders occurred simultaneously.
  • Suicidal Behavior: Alcohol use among adolescents has been associated with considering, planning, attempting, and completing suicide. In one study, 37% of 8th grade females who drank heavily reported attempting suicide, compared with 11% who did not drink. Research does not indicate whether drinking causes suicidal behavior, only that the two behaviors are correlated.
  • Parental and Peer Influences: Parents’ drinking behavior and favorable attitudes about drinking have been associated with adolescents’ initiating and continuing drinking. Early initiating of drinking has been identified as an important risk factor for later alcohol-related problems. Lack of parental support, monitoring, and communication also has been significantly related to frequency of drinking, heavy drinking, and drunkenness among adolescents. Peer drinking and acceptance also influences adolescent drinking behaviors.
  • Expectancies: Positive expectations from alcohol use have been found to increase with age and to predict the onset of drinking among adolescents.

 

Additional Risk Factors include:

  • Being a sibling of an adolescent who uses alcohol and illicit drugs
  • Experiencing learning disorders or other academic problems
  • Delinquency
  • Teen Pregnancy

 

Tobacco Prevention

More that 80% of adult smokers began using tobacco before the age of 18.

In Colorado, 33.7% of school age children are current smokers.

In Colorado, 25% of high school age males use chewing tobacco.

 

Tobacco Prevention is effective:

Over the past decade, comprehensive tobacco use prevention programs have been implemented in several states, including Utah, Arizona, Oregon, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and California.

Experience has proven comprehensive programs like these to be effective in reducing the initiation and prevalence of tobacco use.

In 1996, Oregon passed a 30¢ state cigarette tax with 10% of the revenues allocated to fund a comprehensive, community-based tobacco prevention and education program. From 1996 to 1998, consumption of cigarettes fell 11.3% in Oregon, despite a 2.7% increase in the state’s population. By comparison, in 1996-97 consumption in the U.S. as a whole fell by only 1%.

In Massachusetts, which began a comprehensive tobacco prevention program in 1993, the prevalence of cigarette smoking has dropped substantially to 21.6% of youth and 20.4% of adults (the fourth lowest in the nation).

California began a comprehensive tobacco prevention and education program in 1989. The percentage of adult smokers is now 18.6% (a drop of more than 40%). The percentage of youth smokers is 11.6% (the second lowest rate in the nation).

Comprehensive tobacco prevention programs can have long-term benefits. In one study, students received school and community-based smoking prevention education over a span of two years and were then followed-up for 15 years. Over the lifetime of the study, cigarette consumption among the students who had received the education was 22% lower that the peers who did not receive tobacco prevention education.

Based upon the evidence from these and other programs, the Centers for Disease Control recommend that a comprehensive program to reduce tobacco use be implemented in each state. In Colorado, a minimum of approximately $24 million annually would be required to implement an effective statewide program, including community and school-based prevention programs, cessation programs, and media campaigns to reduce tobacco use.

 

Tobacco prevention saves money:

Every dollar spent on comprehensive statewide tobacco use prevention and control program is estimated to save at least $2 in health care expenses. Of this $2 return, approximately $1.60 represents a savings in public tax dollars spent on tobacco-related illnesses.

On average, each new adolescent smoker in Missouri will incur about $6,000 more in medical cost than a nonsmoker over his or her lifetime. Preventing initiation of tobacco use by adolescents eliminates the need for millions of dollars in future medical expenditures for the treatment of tobacco related diseases.

 

Behavioral effects of tobacco use for youth:

Tobacco is a leading gateway drug and is often the first drug with which children experiment. As the U.S. Surgeon General has reported, teenagers who are daily smokers are 100 times more likely to go on to use marijuana and 30 times more likely to go on to use cocaine than youth who do not smoke.

63% of smokers got drunk at least once a month compared with 10% of teens who never smoked. 79% of smokers also have smoked marijuana compared with 14% of teens who have never smoked.

Tobacco use also encourages shoplifting. Surveys have shown that nearly one half of eighth and tenth-grade smokers admit stealing cigarettes and 12% of teen smokers admit that shoplifting is their primary source of cigarettes. Students who smoke experience more absenteeism from school, primarily because they suffer more respiratory ailments and take longer to recover from those ailments, than students who do not smoke.

 

 

Inhalants

Inhalants are breathable chemical vapors that produce psychoactive (mind-altering) effects. Although people are exposed to volatile solvents and other inhalants in the home and in the workplace, many do not think of inhalable substances as drugs because most of them were never meant to be used in that way.

Young people are likely to abuse inhalants, in part because inhalants are readily available and inexpensive. Sometimes children unintentionally misuse inhalant products that are found in household products. Parents should see that these substances are monitored closely so that they are not inhaled by young children.

Inhalants fall into the following categories:

  • Solvents
    • industrial or household solvents or solvent-containing products, including paint thinners or solvents, degreasers (dry-cleaning fluids), gasoline, and glues
    • art or office supply solvents, including correction fluids, felt-tip-marker fluid, and electronic contact cleaners
  • Gases
    • gases used in household or commercial products, including butane lighters and propane tanks, whipping cream aerosols or dispensers (whippets), and refrigerant gases
    • household aerosol propellants and associated solvents in items such as spray paints, hair or deodorant sprays, and fabric protector sprays
    • medical anesthetic gases, such as ether, chloroform, halothane, and nitrous oxide (laughing gas)
  • Nitrites
    • aliphatic nitrites, including cyclohexyl nitrite, which is available to the general public; amyl nitrite, which is available only by prescription; and butyl nitrite, which is now an illegal substance.

 

Health Hazards

Although different in makeup, nearly all abused inhalants produce effects similar to anesthetics, which act to slow down the body’s functions. When inhaled via the nose or mouth into the lungs in sufficient concentrations, inhalants can cause intoxicating effects. Intoxication can last only a few minutes or several hours if inhalants are taken repeatedly. Initially, users may feel slightly stimulated; with successive inhalations, they may feel less inhibited and less in control; finally, a user can lose consciousness.

Sniffing highly concentrated amounts of the chemicals in solvents or aerosol sprays can directly induce heart failure and death. This is especially common from the abuse of fluorocarbons and butane-type gases. High concentrations of inhalants also cause death from suffocation by displacing oxygen in the lungs and then in the central nervous system so that breathing ceases. Other irreversible effects caused by inhaling specific solvents are as follows:

  • Hearing loss – toluene (paint sprays, glues, dewaxers) and trichloroethylene (cleaning fluids, correction fluids)
  • Peripheral neuropathies or limb spasms – hexane (glues, gasoline) and nitrous oxide (whipping cream, gas cylinders)
  • Central nervous system or brain damage – toluene (paint sprays, glues, dewaxers)
  • Bone marrow damage – benzene (gasoline).

Serious but potentially reversible effects include:

  • Liver and kidney damage – toluene- containing substances and chlorinated hydrocarbons (correction fluids, dry- cleaning fluids)
  • Blood oxygen depletion – organic nitrites (“poppers,” “bold,” and “rush”) and methylene chloride (varnish removers, paint thinners)

Death from inhalants usually is caused by a very high concentration of fumes. Deliberately inhaling from an attached paper or plastic bag or in a closed area greatly increases the chances of suffocation. Even when using aerosols or volatile products for their legitimate purposes (i.e., painting, cleaning), it is wise to do so in a well-ventilated room or outdoors.

Amyl and butyl nitrites have been associated with Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS), the most common cancer reported among AIDS patients. Early studies of KS showed that many people with KS had used volatile nitrites. Researchers are continuing to explore the hypothesis of nitrites as a factor contributing to the development of KS in HIV-infected people.

 

Extent of Use

Initial use of inhalants often starts early. Some young people may use inhalants as a cheap, accessible substitute for alcohol. Research suggests that chronic or long-term inhalant abusers are among the most difficult to treat and they may experience multiple psychological and social problems.

 

Monitoring the Future Study (MTF)*

NIDA’s national survey of drug use among high school students provides estimates of the percentage of seniors using inhalants since 1976. The annual rate of inhalant use among seniors steadily rose from 3.0 percent in 1976 to a peak of 8.0 percent in 1995. In 1997, 6.7 percent of seniors reported past year inhalant use.

The MTF also includes 8th- and 10th-graders, providing estimates of drug use among a younger population. In 1997, 21.0 percent of 8th-graders and 18.3 percent of 10th-graders had used inhalants at least once in their lives; 11.8 percent of 8th-graders and 8.7 percent of 10th-graders had used inhalants in the past year.

The perceived harmfulness of inhalants varies among high school students. In 1997, almost 40.1 percent of 8th-graders and 47.5 percent of 10th-graders said there is great risk in trying inhalants once or twice; 68.7 percent of 8th-graders and 74.5 percent of 10th-graders saw great risk in taking inhalants regularly.

 

Inhalant Use by Students, 1997:
Monitoring the Future Study

8th Graders 10th Graders 12th Graders
Ever Used 21.0% 18.3% 16.1%
Used in Past Year 11.8 8.7 6.7
Used in Past Month 5.6 3.0 2.5

 

National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA)**

Data from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse show that in 1996, 5.9 percent of adolescents (1.3 million) reported use of inhalants at least once in their lifetimes, and 4 per cent (900,000) reported using inhalants in the past year.

* MTF is an annual survey on drug use and related attitudes of America’s adolescents that began in 1975. The survey is conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research and is funded by NIDA. Copies of the latest survey are available from the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information at 1-800-729-6686.
** NHSDA is an annual survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Copies of the latest survey are available from the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information at 1-800-729-6686

 

Methamphetamines

Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug chemically related to amphetamine but with stronger effects on the central nervous system. Street names for the drug include “speed,” “meth,” and “crank.” Methamphetamine is used in pill form or in powdered form by snorting or injecting. Crystallized methamphetamine known as “ice,” “crystal,” or “glass,” is a smokable and more powerful form of the drug.

The effects of methamphetamine use include:

  • increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • increased wakefulness; insomnia
  • increased physical activity
  • decreased appetite
  • respiratory problems
  • extreme anorexia
  • hyperthermia, convulsions, and cardiovascular problems, which can lead to death
  • euphoria
  • irritability, confusion, tremors
  • anxiety, paranoia, or violent behavior

The 1995 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse estimates put the number of persons who have tried methamphetamine in their lifetime at 4.7 million (2.2 percent of the population) in 1995. In 1994, the estimate had been 3.8 million (1.8 percent).

Methamphetamine use also can cause irreversible damage to blood vessels in the brain, producing strokes.

Methamphetamine users who inject the drug and share needles are at risk for acquiring HIV/AIDS.

Methamphetamine is an increasingly popular drug at raves (all night dancing parties), and as part of a number of drugs used by college-aged students.

Marijuana and alcohol are commonly listed as additional drugs of abuse among methamphetamine treatment admissions.

Most of the methamphetamine-related deaths (92%) reported in 1994 involved methamphetamine in combination with at least one other drug, most often alcohol (30%), heroin (23%), or cocaine (21%).

Researchers continue to study the long-term effects of methamphetamine use.

 

Crack and Cocaine

Cocaine is a powerfully addictive drug of abuse. Once having tried cocaine, an individual cannot predict or control the extent to which he or she will continue to use the drug.

The major routes of administration of cocaine are sniffing or snorting, injecting, and smoking (including free-base and crack cocaine). Snorting is the process of inhaling cocaine powder through the nose where it is absorbed into the bloodstream through the nasal tissues. Injecting is the act of using a needle to release the drug directly into the bloodstream. Smoking involves inhaling cocaine vapor or smoke into the lungs where absorption into the bloodstream is as rapid as by injection.

“Crack” is the street name given to cocaine that has been processed from cocaine hydrochloride to a free base for smoking. Rather than requiring the more volatile method of processing cocaine using ether, crack cocaine is processed with ammonia or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and water and heated to remove the hydrochloride, thus producing a form of cocaine that can be smoked. The term “crack” refers to the crackling sound heard when the mixture is smoked (heated), presumably from the sodium bicarbonate.

There is great risk whether cocaine is ingested by inhalation (snorting), injection, or smoking. It appears that compulsive cocaine use may develop even more rapidly if the substance is smoked rather than snorted. Smoking allows extremely high doses of cocaine to reach the brain very quickly and brings an intense and immediate high. The injecting drug user is at risk for transmitting or acquiring HIV infection/AIDS if needles or other injection equipment are shared.

 

Health Hazards

Cocaine is a strong central nervous system stimulant that interferes with the reabsorption process of dopamine, a chemical messenger associated with pleasure and movement. Dopamine is released as part of the brain’s reward system and is involved in the high that characterizes cocaine consumption.
Physical effects of cocaine use include constricted peripheral blood vessels, dilated pupils, and increased temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. The duration of cocaine’s immediate euphoric effects, which include hyper-stimulation, reduced fatigue, and mental clarity, depends on the route of administration. The faster the absorption, the more intense the high. On the other hand, the faster the absorption, the shorter the duration of action. The high from snorting may last 15 to 30 minutes, while that from smoking may last 5 to 10 minutes. Increased use can reduce the period of stimulation.

Some users of cocaine report feelings of restlessness, irritability, and anxiety. An appreciable tolerance to the high may be developed, and many addicts report that they seek but fail to achieve as much pleasure as they did from their first exposure. Scientific evidence suggests that the powerful neuropsychological reinforcing property of cocaine is responsible for an individual’s continued use, despite harmful physical and social consequences. In rare instances, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly thereafter. However, there is no way to determine who is prone to sudden death.

High doses of cocaine and/or prolonged use can trigger paranoia. Smoking crack cocaine can produce a particularly aggressive paranoid behavior in users. When addicted individuals stop using cocaine, they often become depressed. This also may lead to further cocaine use to alleviate depression. Prolonged cocaine snorting can result in ulceration of the mucous membrane of the nose and can damage the nasal septum enough to cause it to collapse. Cocaine-related deaths are often a result of cardiac arrest or seizures followed by respiratory arrest.

Added Danger: Cocaethylene

When people mix cocaine and alcohol consumption, they are compounding the danger each drug poses and unknowingly forming a complex chemical experiment within their bodies. NIDA-funded researchers have found that the human liver combines cocaine and alcohol and manufactures a third substance, cocaethylene, which intensifies cocaine’s euphoric effects, while possibly increasing the risk of sudden death.

 

Treatment

The widespread abuse of cocaine has stimulated extensive efforts to develop treatment programs for this type of drug abuse.

NIDA’s top research priority is to find a medication to block or greatly reduce the effects of cocaine, to be used as one part of a comprehensive treatment program. NIDA-funded researchers are also looking at medications that help alleviate the severe craving that people in treatment for cocaine addiction often experience. Several medications are currently being investigated to test their safety and efficacy in treating cocaine addiction.

In addition to treatment medications, behavioral interventions, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy, can be effective in decreasing drug use by patients in treatment for cocaine abuse. Providing the optimal combination of treatment services for each individual is critical to successful treatment outcome.

 

Extent of Use

Monitoring the Future Study (MTF)*. The MTF assesses the extent of drug use among adolescents and young adults across the country.

The proportion of high school seniors who have used cocaine at least once in their lifetimes has increased from a low of 5.9 percent in 1994 to 9.8 percent in 1999. However, this is lower than its peak of 17.3 percent in 1985. Current (past month) use of cocaine by seniors decreased from a high of 6.7 percent in 1985 to 2.6 percent in 1999. Also in 1999, 7.7 percent of 10th-graders had tried cocaine at least once, up from a low of 3.3 percent in 1992. The percentage of 8th-graders who had ever tried cocaine has increased from a low of 2.3 percent in 1991 to 4.7 percent in 1999.

Of college students 1 to 4 years beyond high school, in 1995, 3.6 percent had used cocaine within the past year, and 0.7 percent had used cocaine in the past month.

 

Cocaine Use by Students, 1999:
Monitoring the Future Study

8th Graders 10th Graders 12th Graders
Ever Used 4.7 % 7.7% 9.8%
Used in Past Year 2.7 4.9 6.2
Used in Past Month 1.3 1.8 2.6

Community Epidemiology Work Group (CEWG)**

Although demographic data continue to show most cocaine users as older, inner-city crack addicts, isolated field reports indicate new groups of users: teenagers smoking crack with marijuana in some cities; Hispanic crack users in Texas; and in the Atlanta area, middle-class suburban users of cocaine hydrochloride and female crack users in their thirties with no prior drug history.

 

National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA)***

In 1998, about 1.7 million Americans were current (at least once per month) cocaine users. This is about 0.8 percent of the population age 12 and older; about 437,000 of those used crack. The rate of current cocaine use in 1998 was highest among Americans ages 18 to 25 (2.0 percent). The rate of use for this age group was significantly higher in 1998 than in 1997, when it was 1.2 percent.

* MTF is an annual survey on drug use and related attitudes of America’s adolescents that began in 1975. The survey is conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research and is funded by NIDA. Copies of the latest survey are available from the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information at 1-800-729-6686
** CEWG is a NIDA-sponsored network of researchers from 20 major U.S. metropolitan areas and selected foreign countries who meet semiannually to discuss the current epidemiology of drug abuse.
*** NHSDA is an annual survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Copies of the latest survey are available from the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information at 1-800-729-6686.

 

MDMA (Ecstasy)

Also known as Ecstasy, XTC, E, X, Adam, Euphoria, Love Doves, Wonder Drug

 

MDMA is a synthetic, psychoactive (mind-altering) drug with hallucinogenic and amphetamine-like properties, and is chemically similar to MDA and methamphetamines. MDMA has a chemical structure of 3,4 – methylenedioxymethamphetamine.

 

History

In the 1970s MDMA was first produced in the black market as a substitute for the then legal MDA and was used by some psychotherapists as a supplement to treatment. In the early 1980s MDMA gained popularity as a recreational drug and by 1985 it had attracted the media’s attention and the DEA banned MDMA, placing the drug in the Schedule I classification of the Controlled Substances Act. In the 1990s, however, the popularity and use of MDMA at raves, all night dance parties, by high school and college students as well as young professionals continues to increase sharply.

 

Availability

MDMA is readily obtainable at night clubs and raves. It is available in a variety of forms; however, it is usually sold as a tablet or powder, and is usually taken orally or snorted. Shapes, sizes and colors vary depending on who is making the drug.

 

 

Effects of MDMA

The effects of a single MDMA dose usually last 4-6 hours, giving the user a feeling of pleasure, euphoria, enhanced communication skills, sociability, energy, and confidence.

 

Risks of taking MDMA

Psychological difficulties, including confusion, depression, sleep problems, drug craving, severe anxiety, and paranoia – during and sometimes for weeks after taking MDMA, even psychotic episodes, have been reported.

Physical symptoms such as muscle tension, involuntary teeth-clenching, nausea, blurred vision, rapid eye movements, faintness, and chills or sweating, increased heart rate and blood pressure can last for days or weeks after taking MDMA.

 

MDMA, like methamphetamines, is also believed to cause brain damage. MDMA damages the cells called neurons that produce serotonin, a chemical messenger in the brain that influence moods, appetite, sleep and other important functions. Furthermore, the serotonin-producing nerve fibers regrow abnormally or not at all.

 

Research on MDMA is still in its early stages; however, determining the possible damaging effects of MDMA has become more important in the recent years since the popularity of MDMA continues to increase drastically.