Neon lights flash in the dark, reflecting off the sea of white shirts. Glow sticks swim through the crowd. Plastic sunglasses and pacifiers in the form of Ring Pops bob up and down in sync with the music. Pills are popped. The music pulsates, putting listeners in a sedative trance. The beat grows stronger and faster — rave culture at its finest.

Until recently, rave culture — including both the music and the drugs — was most frequently associated with past generations. We were still in diapers during the late ’80s and early ‘90s when raves were at the height of their popularity. However, the recent reemergence of electronic music has brought with it a reemergence of not only raves, but also drugs like as ecstasy. Often referred to as “rave drugs,” stimulants like ecstasy are reportedly taking center stage at concerts worldwide, and there is no exception here on campus. Rolling on ecstasy is becoming increasingly trendy and, not surprisingly, the drug is also becoming increasingly accessible. However, despite the drug’s availability, it is by no means safe and there are still serious dangers associated with its use that students should not disregard.

MDMA, the drug that ecstasy is primarily made of, has been shown to have negative effects on the brain and body. While the allure of the drug lies in the euphoric sensation it produces, the sensation does not come without risk. Not only does long-term use of MDMA damage the brain, but short-term, and even single-use, can be harmful and in some cases deadly. However, it appears that more and more often people use popularity as a way to measure safety and figure that the more people are doing it, the safer it must be.

With some of the biggest DJs in house music — such as Avicii and Deadmau5 — making appearances either on or near campus, students immersed in the electronic music scene — or possibly eager to experiment — have likely had little trouble finding excuses to “roll face.” However, it is not only those students who identify with the house music scene who pop pills for concerts. As DJs make sets that cater to their drugged-out audiences, concertgoers feel it is necessary to take drugs like ecstasy in order to be on par with other concertgoers and fully appreciate the music.

Bootstrapping the growing acceptance of ecstasy is its sister-drug, Molly — a drug that boasts deliverance of pure MDMA to its users. While ecstasy can often be laced with other drugs unbeknownst to the user, Molly has a reputation for being a purer form of the drug that delivers the same desired effects. Though logical to users, this idea is actually quite skewed, seeing as it often gives users a false sense of safety and security — the I’m “only” doing Molly attitude. Sure, Molly might be the lesser of two evils, but just because the drug is supposedly pure in form, it still poses the same risks associated with MDMA.

While it is easy to ignore the risks of “rave drugs” when many of your peers are taking them, students must remember that it is all fun (or rather, rolls) and games until someone gets hurt. To counter the potential dangers related to the resurgence of this rave culture, it is vital that students stay educated about drug use and effects beyond the confines of what they learn from their friends’ experiences with drugs.

Students should also familiarize themselves with the many resources available on campus, such as the University Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Program and others listed on the University Health Services website, which aim to help educate students about drug use and help users in need. As DJs and house music continue to grow in popularity, students must take caution and learn the facts about drugs before glibly assuming they are safe merely because “everybody is doing them.”

Leah Potkin can be reached at lpotkin@umich.edu.

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