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Ecstasy: Are You Willing To Trade Your Brain For It?
By Sgt A.C. Strong
MCAS Miramar

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif.(April 13, 2001) — X, Ecstasy, XTC, the love drug — all names for the same drug, Methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency's Web site at: www.usdoj.gov/dea, it is the most commonly used by America's youth and lately, United States servicemembers.

"On the surface it seems almost too good to be true," said David S. Metelski, special agent, Miramar NCIS. "A drug that makes you just feel good, and it's gone from your system by the end of the weekend. What the drug user isn't considering is the permanent damage that is caused to your brain."

Ecstasy is a synthetic drug with stimulant and hallucinogenic properties, according to the DEA Web site. It was originally introduced in the 1970's to assist in psychotherapeutic sessions.

"The ones we've spoken to say, it just makes you feel good," said Metelski. "Pure pleasure."

The drug works by stimulating the gland that produces seratonin. The user receives a feeling of relaxation, similar to that during intercourse.

However, according to Metelski, over a period of time, the gland is destroyed. The body can no longer produce seratonin on its own, causing depression, sleeplessness, anxiety and a myriad of other problems.

Another side effect is that, when "rolling" as the users sometimes call it, the internal body temperature of the user skyrockets, causing an internal meltdown, according to Metelski. Use of "X" is increasing at an alarming rate — 500 percent — over a five-year period, according to the DEA.

"Drug Abuse Warning Network estimates reveal that nationwide hospital emergency room mentions for MDMA rose dramatically from 70 in 1993 to 2,850 in 1999."

Why has it become the military's problem? "We are looking at an epidemic," said Metelski. Recently, the air station court-martialed more than two dozen Marines from the same section for Ecstasy and other drug involvement.

"The one thing that will help is education," said Metelski. "Right now many are thinking 'how can something that makes me feel so good be bad for me?' We need to educate them."

According to Metelski and the DEA, the medical community is just now getting users to cooperate with testing. What they do know is that there is a significant leap in depression and memory loss in users.

"It doesn't help that the internet has dozens of Web sites calling it a 'safe' drug," said Metelski. "No street drug is a safe drug. What they don't realize is that Ecstasy is being cut with other drugs such as Ketamin, also known as "Special K," which has been dubbed the poor man's LSD. The mixture of the two can cause permanent brain damage or be fatal.

"What it comes down to is this, users need to understand that brain damage can be worse than death," said Ruth A. Kelly whose best friend Kim suffered an overdose in 1991. "Kim went to a party and just never came back." red ribbon icon

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