Ecstasy Essay

898 words - 4 pages

IT'S NO ACCIDENT that MDMA's street name is "Ecstasy." Users of the drug report feelings of bliss, connection, and peace. They find that their relationships -- with other people, with the world -- are radically enhanced. Best of all, MDMA lacks the out-of-control feeling of LSD and other psychedelics, which is why many users have jumped to the conclusion that it is relatively safe. Yet growing evidence suggests that MDMA isn't quite a "soft" drug. Scientists have now confirmed that MDMA damages brain cells. Dozens of deaths by over-heating, heart problems, and unexpected overdoses have been reported. Even seemingly responsible measures to prevent overheating have themselves proven fatal. And just last month, researchers found that women who took MDMA during pregnancy had a birth-defect rate five times higher than normal. What's worse, years of careless drug-war politics have trained our ears to screen out claims of danger -- and it's preventing this information from reaching those who need it.Politicians love to exaggerate drug risk, and when people get high and don't experience the horrors predicted, they discount negative information as mere propaganda. Even those who should know better -- people working to help drug users protect themselves from harm -- can be misled. Rather than considering that MDMA may not be safe, many harm reductionists have instinctively tried to debunk the research or tar scientists as government apologists. "People care very deeply about this drug and they know an enormous number of people who have taken it without problems." says Dr. John Morgan, a professor of pharmacology at CUNY medical school, "[Advocates] want to see researchers who did these studies as schlemiels or schnooks, but at this point there really is not much criticism possible [of the human neurotoxicity data]... the time to worry is now." So what do the data show? In animals, there is direct evidence that even the equivalent of one human dose can kill parts of serotonin neurons, which are believed important in maintaining positive mood; brain scans of heavy human users find significantly less activity in these cells. Some advocates claim that the same changes are caused by Prozac, but this is not so; with Prozac, changes take place through normal regulatory processes -- not through actual cell damage. In addition, there are liver problems. The enzyme which metabolizes MDMA is deficient in 3-10% of people tested. Researchers believe that those who die on a normal dose -- while their friends have no trouble -- may have this deficiency, but why it is that so few die is still mysterious. To make matters worse, some researchers believe that the brain damage is...

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