The use of Ecstasy by teenagers and adolescents is still notably popular. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s 2016 Monitoring the Future survey, approximately 1 out of 20 high school seniors and 1 out of 35 10th-graders has tried Ecstasy.
And that usage then leads to future drug use, because the number of Ecstasy users between the ages of 18 and 25 increases sharply, doubling to more than 1 in 8.
So… who is most at risk among teenagers?
A 2014 study conducted by researchers at New York University’s Center for Drug Use and HIV Research and published in Substance Use & Misuse discovered that prior drug use was the most significant factor that could predict Ecstasy use.
“Ecstasy use also tends to precede use of other club drugs so preventing ecstasy use may also prevent initiation and use of drugs such as ketamine and GHB.”
~ Lead author Dr. Joseph J. Palamar, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Population Health at NYU Langone Medical Center
What is Ecstasy?
MDMA/Ecstasy,also known as “Molly”, “XTC”, “X”, or “E”, is by far the most-abused so-called “party” or “club” drug, used by as many as 29 million people around the world. Its effects are similar to both hallucinogens and stimulants.
MDMA abuse results in a sense of euphoria, deepened empathy with others, and makes the lights and music at a dance or club more enjoyable by altering time and sensory perception.
What Are Some of the Adverse Effects of Ecstasy?
Harmful effects of ecstasy include:
- Raised body temperature
- Excessive sweating
- Dehydration (especially when combined with alcohol)
- Muscle cramps
The increased body temperature can be high enough to be dangerous, and even potentially fatal.
Two of the biggest social hazards include a greater likelihood of unsafe sex and its use as a date rape drug. Slipped into someone’s drink, “X” can cause the unsuspecting victim to become so impaired as to be unable to give reasoned consent.
In addition, many teenage “Molly” users run the risk of accidentally taking other, more dangerous substances. It usually comes as a powder, instead of a pill, increasing the chance that it has been cut with/substituted by another drug.
Dr. Palamar explains, “Hundreds of new designer drugs have emerged in recent years, some of which were created to mimic the effects of ecstasy. Many individuals may be ingesting what they think is ecstasy, but it may in fact be an even more dangerous new substance.”
Other Factors That Influence Teen Ecstasy Use
While stressing that preventing the use of other drugs was the most important factor in preventing Ecstasy use, the CDUHR researchers also made several other discoveries about sociodemographic conditions:
- Teenagers who report lifetime use of cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, or other illicit drugs are at the highest risk of MDMA use.
- Across gender and racial lines, White teenage males are most likely to use.
- Females and teenagers who identified as “religious” are at the lowest risk.
- Hispanics, Blacks, and teenagers who live with two parents are at lowered risk, unless other substance use is present.
- Living in a city increases the risk.
- MDMA use is common among teens who go to dance clubs, festivals, or parties.
Interestingly, teenage income also plays a role. Those teens who make $50 or more per week from a job, or $10 or more per week from some other source have a greater likelihood of Ecstasy use.
What Steps Can Be Taken to Prevent Teenage Ecstasy Use?
Substance use “hardwires” the teenage brain to be vulnerable to future addiction. Therefore, preventing any kind of substance use is the number-one thing involved parents can do to protect their children.
Being aware of your teen’s friends, activities, and whereabouts is also key to drug prevention.
Finally, if your child is already using Ecstasy or any other intoxicating substance, it is crucial that you get them specialized professional help that focuses on their unique needs AS a teenager.
For more than 35 years, Teensavers Treatment Centers has been the most-trusted teen drug and alcohol rehab program in Southern California. If your family is in crisis because of substance abuse or behavior problems, Teensavers can help today.
Teensavers – “Transforming Lives…”
by Albert Fontenot