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Ecstasy: A Real Killer
By the Navy Wire Service

WASHINGTON (NWS) — Ecstasy will not only kill your Navy career, but it can also kill you. For this reason, the Navy has targeted the drug ecstasy, also known as MDMA, as a hazard to readiness and force protection.

Protecting Sailors and Marines is a major component of force protection and to succeed it requires a team effort. Preparedness and individual personal performance are essential.

Drug use dulls the "combat edge" that military personnel need to be able to respond effectively in an operationally intense environment. Therefore, the Navy has "zero tolerance" for illicit drugs.

Individuals found guilty of illegal drug use face an other than honorable discharge in addition to reduction in grade and loss of pay.

An adverse military discharge results in a loss of Veterans Affairs educational benefits, including the Montgomery GI Bill. A drug conviction can also result in a loss of other federal college fund benefits. Sharing of drugs is distribution that most likely will end in serious jail time and a bad conduct discharge.

Sailors and Marines who use ecstasy are under the impression that it is a "safe" drug. This is far from the truth.

For those who chose to ignore the warning, ecstasy, also known as "adam," "XTC," "hug," "beans" and "love drug," has resulted in hospitalization and even death. Medical risks associated with ecstasy use include:

- A sharp increase in body temperature that can result in dehydration, muscle breakdown, and kidney and cardiovascular system failure;

- Psychological difficulties, including confusion, depression, sleep problems, drug craving, severe anxiety and paranoia that can sometimes last weeks after taking ecstasy;

- Physical symptoms such as muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, rapid eye movement, faintness and chills or sweating;

- Increases in heart rate and blood pressure, a special risk for people with undiagnosed circulatory or heart disease.

Adverse drug reactions are frequently associated with ecstasy use. Ecstasy is often "cut" with other drugs, or drug substitutes are sold as ecstasy. The danger is a "Russian roulette" for a reaction to these drug mixtures, especially individuals who are already taking other prescribed or over-the-counter medications.

What can Sailors and Marines do to combat illegal drug use? Become knowledgeable about and familiar with the signs of drug use.

Command leadership is key. Everyone from the commanding officers to the leading petty officers are tasked to ensure all members of their staff are educated to the impact of drug use on unit readiness and force protection.

There are two training packages available at the Navy Personnel Command (NAVPERSCOM) Pers-6 Web site, http://navdweb.spawar.navy.mil. One is Work Center Supervisor Training and the other for Ecstasy Awareness Training. A randomization drug testing software program is also available at http://navdweb.spawar.navy.mil.

An effective command drug-testing program also improves force protection. The best deterrent to drug use is to raise the perceived risk of detection through frequent random testing.

Once the risk of detection is heightened, the willingness to use drugs drops significantly. Studies have shown that implementing an effective program of drug testing and drug education reduces the level of drug use.

For additional information, contact your command drug and alcohol program advisor or go to http://navdweb.spawar.navy.mil. NAVPERSCOM (Pers-603) can be reached at DSN 882-4240 or (901) 874-4240, or e-mail to P603C@persnet.navy.mil.red ribbon icon

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