DoD Targets Ecstasy
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 2, 2001 "Ecstasy" is the fastest
growing abused drug in the United States, and the military is taking
steps to ensure it doesn't endanger service members.
Ecstasy chemical name 3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine
is also called "X," "XTC," "Clarity,"
"Essence" "Adam," "Lover's Speed"
and "Hug Drug" on the street. A drug with no known medical
use, its abuse has exploded among young people, especially those
between 18 and 21. Federal authorities seized 49,000 Ecstasy pills
in 1997 but more than 900,000 just two years later.
DoD officials said 1,070 cases of Ecstasy abuse in fiscal 2000
accounted for 5.6 percent of all positives in the DoD urinalysis
program. This puts Ecstasy behind marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine
as the most abused drugs in the military.
"This is a problem in the civilian world," said Deborah
Rosenblum, principal director for counternarcotics. "Anything
that is as popular, in vogue where there are misconceptions
about it in the civilian world, we certainly take note of
it from a recruiting and readiness perspective."
Abuses in fiscal 2001 have slowed, officials said. Rosenblum said
contributing factors are education efforts by the services and members'
growing awareness that the urine test can detect Ecstasy use.
DoD plans changes in test protocols weekend testing, for
example, she noted. The services will also work together to see
what messages resonate with service members and what tactics seem
to work, she said.
Ecstasy is dangerous. Findings of a primate study announced at
a mid-July research conference in Bethesda, Md., indicated monkeys
given the human equivalent of four daily doses of Ecstasy showed
brain damage and behavioral changes two weeks and 18 months after
the "binge." The effects noted are consistent with those
observed in humans memory loss and acute depression, among
Overall, the DoD counterdrug effort has been successful. In 1980,
surveys showed 28 percent of service members said they had abused
an illegal drug in the last month. The 1998 survey put that number
at 2.7 percent. The department currently tests for marijuana, cocaine
and amphetamines, which include Ecstasy. It also tests for opiates,
PCP, barbiturates and LSD. The department will test for other drugs
as the need arises, officials said.