“Live like there is no tomorrow, dance like nobody is watching, and rave like you are on a roll” is a motto by which many ravers and ecstasy users have been living for decades. But even this long-lived maxim seems to be losing its effect as ecstasy use among teenagers and young adults is starting to slow down.
According to a recent nationwide survey by the University”s Institute for Social Research, which has been monitoring the use and abuse of ecstasy since 1975, the percentages of high school students using ecstasy have been 3.6 percent, 5.6, 8.2, and 9.2 in 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001, respectively. While there is a clear increase in the number of students who have used the drug, the rate of this increase is slowing down.
“It”s an indication that we might see a turn around next year,” said Lloyd Johnston, the principal investigator of the research, which was conducted as part of ISR”s ongoing Monitoring the Future series.
“The reason that the use of ecstasy has slowed down is that an increasing proportion of young people see ecstasy as dangerous. I suspect a lot of it comes from news reports and the media, and there have been active attempts by the National Institute of Drug Abuse to get the latest scientific evidence about the effects of the drug out to the public,” Johnston said.
An LSA freshman who wished to remain anonymous said ecstasy is not as big of a problem in Ann Arbor as it is in other parts of the country.
“I don”t know too many people who do it regularly (at the University). I only know four other people who rave and take (ecstasy),” he said.
“Compared to marijuana, it”s not as easy to get (on campus) but compared to coke and Ketamine, it”s easier. I usually get through students,” he added.
Another LSA junior admitted that the main reason she quit using ecstasy was the education she received from the media.
“Documentaries and shows like “Dateline” or “20/20″ did reports on negative effects of ecstasy, and more and more people are stopping to use it,” she said. “I honestly believe that my short term memory has been effected somewhat by ecstasy.”
“Education is the greatest prevention,” said Melissa Richter, the Chelsea Arbor Treatment Center”s adolescent specialist, who added that 10 percent to 20 percent of her patients have had ecstasy abuse problems.
“We give them a lot of education. Without the education, they don”t know what they are doing to their body. And once they understand what ecstasy really is, many of them never choose to use it again,” Richter said. She added that there still needs to be much more education about drugs like ecstasy.
Ecstasy, or MDMA and more commonly called “E,” which affects the amount of seratonin released in the brain, is a Schedule I drug along with heroin and marijuana. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse, cannot be used for medical treatment purposes and are deemed unsafe even under medical supervision.