is a "club drug" that affects the users brain. The term .club
drug. refers to a wide variety of drugs often used at all-night dance parties
(.raves.), nightclubs, and concerts. Ecstasy, one of the many club
drugs widely abused today, can damage the neurons in your brain. Thus, impairing
your senses, memory, judgment, and coordination. Ecstasy has gained popularity
primarily due to the false perception that it is not as harmful, nor as addictive,
as mainstream drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
During the early 1990s, raves started to migrate to the United States, where
electronic music was becoming hot. Ecstasy migrated back along with them. It
helped that the drug had good advance press--users billed it as a good, fun
high, with no readily apparent downside. Those were Ecstasy's early days, when
psychologists were still trumpeting the drug's potential as a therapeutic aid
(those trumpets have since faded) and it was mostly discussed as part of the
rave culture--a culture which psychologists and cops alike regarded with the
bewildered, an-thropological interest of Stanley peering into the Congo for
the first time. The ravers wore baggy clothes, they noted, and waved glowsticks,
of all things, while dancing energetically for hours. The drug seemed to enhance
users' sense of touch, and so members of the opposite sex seemed to touch each
other a lot, they observed, and the young ladies tended to dress very provocatively
indeed. The shrinks tended to think of Ecstasy as another what's-the-harm, makes-you-feel-better
drug like marijuana. The cops were decidedly more skeptical.
Detecting the use of the club drug Ecstasy is difficult for police because the
pill is small and easily concealed. Also, it's difficult for undercover detectives
to make arrests at raves because dealers can escape through the crowd, authorities
said. "It is difficult to penetrate clubs and raves," Lopez said,
of efforts by undercover agents. "It is just a younger type of crowd."
market for Ecstasy has begun to expand from those ravers into a broader user
demographic--one that is both older and younger, more racially diverse, and
includes people who do their drugs not at big raves but home alone. No longer
a niche drug, Ecstasy has begun to attract organized, professional drug gangs.
In some cities, the drug is sold on the street alongside crack and heroin, by
dealers who thrive on the repeat business afforded by addicts and junkies; since
Ecstasy is not itself physically addictive, they've begun cutting it with drugs
that are, like methamphetamines. Ecstasy, in other words, is becoming a street
drug. "We're seeing the same things with Ecstasy that we did with cocaine
in 1979," says Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy at UCLA. The
user group is expanding, prices are declining, and professional gangs are muscling
in. If this new trend continues, Ecstasy may no longer be the largely self-contained,
relatively low-risk diversion that it has been, but a potential gateway to addiction
and violence for millions of young Americans.
But local law agencies have been making progress over the years. In 2000, sheriff's
deputies arrested 19 people and closed Club Velvet at the Del Mar Fairgrounds
after the club and its patrons were accused of dealing and using Ecstasy. In
2001, nearly 1,000 Ecstasy pills were seized from a car stopped at the U.S.
Border Patrol checkpoint near the San Diego and Riverside county line.
of the biggest Ecstasy operations occurred in October 2001, when Drug Enforcement
Administration officials raided an Escondido lab that was capable of producing
1 million to 1.5 million tablets a month, worth more than $20 million.
According to the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, an estimated
8.1 million (3.6 percent) Americans age 12 or older have tried Ecstasy at least
once in their lifetimes, up from 6.5 million (2.9 percent) in 2000. The number
of past year Ecstasy users in 2001 was approximately 3.2 million (1.4 percent)
and the number of current Ecstasy users was estimated to be 786,000 (0.3 percent).
Among 18 to 25 year olds, 13.1 percent reported lifetime Ecstasy use.
The use of synthetic drugs has become a popular method of enhancing the club
and rave experience, which is characterized by loud, rapid-tempo .techno.
music (140 to 200 beats per minute), light shows, smoke or fog, and pyrotechnics.
Users of drugs such as MDMA report that the effects of the drugs heighten the
user.s perceptions, especially the visual stimulation. Quite often, users
of MDMA at clubs will dance with light sticks to increase their visual stimulation.
Legal substances such as Vick.s nasal inhalers and Vick.s VapoRub
are often used to enhance the effects of the drugs.
originated in England and on the Island of Ibiza (off the coast of Spain) and
the culture rapidly spread to the United States, along with techno music. Raves
are either legal or illegal, the former run by professional promoters with the
requisite permits and licenses, while the latter are amateur operations at unapproved
sites (such as warehouses or open fields). Attendance can range from several
hundred to many thousands, and admission varies from $10 to over $50 but is
sometimes free. Raves often are advertised on the Internet and by word-of-mouth.
Advertisements range from simple black-and-white flyers to elaborate artwork
designed to portray the freedom and social awareness that these events espouse.
Event attendance is heavily determined by the disc jockeys working the shows.
While these events were not originally intended to serve as a nexus for illicit
drug sales, the culture surrounding the events has created a favorable environment
for illegal drug trafficking. Although raves may have been the traditional venue
for drug purchases throughout the early 1990s, more recently these drugs are
being purchased at clubs and brought back to college dorms, high school parties,
and more rural party venues.