For those in search of a powerful pill that’s relatively inexpensive and remarkably easy to find, Ecstasy (also known as MDMA) seems to fit the bill. The drug can provide users with a sense of euphoria, as well as a rising feeling of invincibility and a love for everyone they meet, and according to news reports, pills are available for as little as $3.50 in some parts of the country from dealers who own restaurants, coffee shops and other prominent places of business.
Producing a Powerful Drug
Ecstasy is a chemical drug, made in a laboratory in a series of very complicated and precise steps that have to be followed to the letter. If all goes well, the result will be a fine mist of powder that can be bundled together in packets and sold to dealers. If all does not go well, the process can yield a sticky, tarry mess that is basically worthless to the user. Since the steps are so complicated, most dealers leave the synthesis to experts, rather than undertaking it themselves. This doesn’t mean, however, that the Ecstasy that people buy on the street can be considered pure. Even though it is made in a laboratory, there are several points at which the supply could be contaminated.
According to the American Council for Drug Education, the ingredients manufacturers use to make Ecstasy are sometimes hard to get. This means that some suppliers are forced to substitute other, more harmful, chemicals in order to produce the drugs that they’d like to sell to unsuspecting users. These substitutions may not result in a change in the appearance or in the smell of the drug, so it’s nearly impossible for people to detect the substitutions without actually testing or taking the drug. Some suppliers who cannot create Ecstasy due to a lack of ingredients substitute another powdered drug, such as methamphetamine, and do not notify their dealers of the change. The dealers, therefore, don’t notify their users that they are about to take a drug that they hadn’t planned on.
Dealers buy Ecstasy in powdered form, and then use their own capping machines to press the powder into tablet form and stamp the pills with cartoons or other images that work to perfect their own “brand.” Users might ask for specific designs, as they believe that these specific pills are more powerful or safer than others that are available. Unfortunately, some dealers attempt to up their profit share by making their drugs more powerful, and they might add in powdered forms of other drugs before they load the powder into the capping machine.
Contaminated Ecstasy tablets are so very common that users may have no idea about the pills they’re taking before they swallow them. Some dealers may not even know what is included in the pills they sell, and other dealers may convince them to lower their sales price due to fears about “tainted goods.” In 2005, in order to determine how common contaminated pills really were, researchers conducted laboratory testing of tablets. Overall, according to results published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, only 39 percent of the pills sampled contained only Ecstasy, and 15 percent contained mixtures of Ecstasy and other substances. A whopping 46 percent contained no Ecstasy at all. Some people who buy Ecstasy may be getting pills that are much more powerful than those they’ve taken before, while others might very well be taking pills that contain no active ingredients at all. Contamination seems widespread.
This sort of contamination may be frightening to people who take Ecstasy, and they may rail against unscrupulous dealers who choose to tinker with the contents of the drugs they take, but these modifications are allowed because the production of the drug isn’t regulated in any way. While Ecstasy was originally created as a diet aid, according to an article published by Brown University, it’s been considered illegal since 1985. As a result, no reputable laboratories in the United States create the drug, and there are no governmental quality control procedures that could help to protect users against contaminated drugs. Those who take the drug do so at their own risk.
A Dangerous Habit
Since Ecstasy is considered illegal, people who use the drug may also face jail time for even having one pill in their possession. People who have a large stash of drugs may face dealing charges, and they could face even longer prison sentences. One dealer in Texas, for example, was convicted of Ecstasy trafficking and was sentenced to 70 months in federal prison, according to news reports. Dabbling in illegal drugs is never a good idea for people who wish to stay out of jail.
Ecstasy can also cause serious health-related problems. The drug causes the brain to release large amounts of the chemical serotonin. Serotonin is involved in:
- Regulating mood
- Sexual activity
- Sleep/wake cycles
- Sensitivity to pain
- Aggression levels
Those who take Ecstasy may have difficulties in all of these areas in the days and weeks after taking the drug. In addition, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, some people who take Ecstasy become addicted to the substance. In one study, 43 percent of those who took the drug met the criteria for dependence. Since the pills are so very often contaminated with other drugs, people who think they are taking Ecstasy may very well be taking a much more addictive drug, and they could face complex and staggering addictions as a result.
The idea of becoming addicted to Ecstasy, or dealing with a complicated addiction to substances the user doesn’t even know much about, can be frightening to many people. Thankfully, there are many treatments that can help. At Axis, we provide a supportive and healing environment for addiction, and we customize our treatment approach to ensure that we’re providing the right kind of help for the specific addiction each person is facing at that time. If you’d like to know more about our treatment approach, please contact us today. Operators are standing by.