1. Parenting
Send to a Friend via Email

Ecstasy and Teens: Is My Teen Using Ecstasy?

How Parents Can Know

By

Ecstasy is a club drug teens use to feel euphoric when they are partying at a club or all night rave. It is very dangerous not only because when you are high you are more likely to take serious risks, but it has a harmful effect on a teen's brain.

Ecstasy is a slang term for MDMA, short for methylenedioxymethamphetamine, a long name that represents the long all-night parties often called raves, where MDMA is used.

1. What does ecstasy look like? How do teens use it?

Teen Ecstasy Use
Photo by the DEA.
According to the DEA, ecstasy use mainly involves swallowing tablets or caplets. Sometimes the pills are crushed and snorted, occasionally smoked but rarely cooked into a liquid and injected. ecstasy is also available as a powder. Ecstasy abusers usually take ecstasy by 'stacking' (taking three or more tablets at once) or by 'piggy-backing' (taking a series of tablets over a short period of time). One trend among young adults is 'candy flipping', which is the co-abuse of ecstasy and LSD. As with many other drugs of abuse, ecstasy is not always used alone. It is common for users to mix ecstasy with other substances like alcohol and marijuana.

2. Know that ecstasy can be addictive for teens.

Ecstasy Teen Drug Use
Photo from DEA files.

Ecstasy, or MDMA, produces feelings of increased energy, euphoria, emotional warmth and distortions in time, perception, and tactile experiences. Teens see it as a way to increase their partying fun, stay awake and uplift their mood. Because it does all of these things, teens want to take it again and again.

As reported by the NIDA, a survey found that 43 percent of teens and young adults who reported ecstasy use met the accepted diagnostic criteria for dependence, as evidenced by continued use despite knowledge of physical or psychological harm, withdrawal effects and tolerance. These results are consistent with those from similar studies in other countries that suggest a high rate of ecstasy dependence among users. Ecstasy abstinence-associated withdrawal symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, depressed feelings and trouble concentrating.

3. What are the signs that my teen is high on ecstasy?

Psychological difficulties happen during ecstasy use and sometimes weeks after taking ecstasy.
  • confusion
  • depression
  • sleep problems
  • drug craving
  • severe anxiety
  • paranoia
Physical symptoms occur, such as:
  • muscle tension
  • involuntary teeth clenching
  • nausea
  • blurred vision
  • rapid eye movement
  • faintness
  • chills or sweating
  • increases in heart rate and blood pressure

4. What are the long term effect of teen ecstasy use?

Research findings link ecstasy use to long-term damage to those parts of the brain critical to thought and memory, similar effects to cocaine and meth use. It is believed that the drug causes damage to the neurons that use the chemical serotonin to communicate with other neurons.

Ecstasy or MDMA, as it is also known, is related in structure and effects to methamphetamine, which has been shown to cause degeneration of neurons containing the neurotransmitter dopamine. Damage to dopamine containing neurons is the underlying cause of the motor disturbances seen in Parkinson's disease. Symptoms of this disease begin with lack of coordination and tremors, and can eventually result in a form of paralysis.

5. Ecstasy drug paraphernalia in their room or in personal belongings.

Ecstasy Drug Paraphernalia Pacifiers
© NUK

The drug paraphernalia that parents may find in and around their teen's rooms or in their backpacks are pacifiers and lollipops which are used to keep the teen from grinding their teeth. Glow sticks, menthol vapor rub and surgical-type masks are used to enhance and stimulate the effects of ecstasy on the senses.

If you find these objects in your teen's room, you'll want to talk to them about possible ecstasy use. Do not shy away from having this talk as it is the first step to getting your teen help if they are using drugs.

6. You can use a drug testing kit for ecstasy use.

Ecstasy Drug Testing Kit
Photo by iScreen.
There are drug testing kits available for MDMA, also known as ecstasy., Like the kit pictured here from iScreen, the tests are simple urine checks that will give you results not long after you dip the sticks in the test-takers urine. There are also multi-drug testing kits available that have ecstasy as one of the drug they test for and they are also totally done at home.

7. Check out the Is My Teen Using Drugs article?

Is My Teen Using Drugs? goes over all of the common issues dealing with all types of teen drug use while the tips below are specific to the teen marijuana use and signs a parent should look out for if they feel their teen may be exposed or is using pot. If you have not read the article you may want to check it out now.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.