- Education and Science
The Dangers Of Taking Ecstasy (MDMA) Pills
Currently in the UK the illegal recreational drug Ecstasy is a class-A drug. Anyone found to be in possession of any class-A drug in the UK is sure to face a prison sentence.
Ecstasy, it's main ingredient being MDMA, is rapidly becoming the most popular drug of choice for clubbers in the UK and is strongly linked to nightclubs and the rave scene. Recently, the UK government have been advised to downgrade the classification of the drug to class B, so that it would have fallen into the same category as Cannabis, had Cannabis not just been reclassified.
Not just due to it's widespread use all over the country but because scientists have also deemed the Ecstasy drug as being relatively safe to use, despite the deaths of several youngsters in the UK being linked to the drug which is known to cause severe dehydration leading to internal bleeding.
Their justification being the fact that just as many people, if not more, are killed by performing regular legal activities that hold potential dangers, such as horse riding or driving on the motorway. In comparison the amount of deaths caused by the use of Ecstasy are fewer and further in between, therefore the drug has been deemed safer than horse-riding.
However, the UK government have decided to ignore the advice and you may be about to find out why that is a good thing.
Whilst this may seem like a fair enough point within itself, there is a lot more information out there that clearly hasn't been taken into consideration. So what are the main dangers of using Ecstasy and how often do they strike?
The Dangers of Ecstasy
The fact is that the amount of deaths related to the drug are actually very small with only approximately up to two people in every ten thousand being affected - less than the amount of people who are killed performing every day legal activities, once again such as horse riding.
However, the advice offered to regular users of the drug by health agencies and the like is very inaccurate and can actually make it more likely for the users to incur problems. One such piece of advice is to drink plenty of water when taking the drug in order to prevent dehydration.
A lack of water in the system whilst on the drug can cause the body to overheat to dangerous temperatures, especially when the user is particularly active for long periods of time (i.e. dancing all night). When the body reaches a certain temperature and there is an insufficient amount of liquid in the system to keep the body cool internal bleeding can begin which is potentially the point of no return.
However, what they don't tell users is that drinking too much water can also be very dangerous too, particularly when under the influence of Ecstasy. Recently, some people have been known to have died simply from drinking too much water, without taking any kind of drug whatsoever.
The reason being that an overdose of water can dilute the essential salt levels in the bloodstream causing organs and cells to swell thereby causing increased pressure in the brain which can ultimately result in the body completely shutting down. This is known as Hyponatremia.
Two citizens of the UK are known to have died from this condition in 2007.
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Hyponatremia & Depression
Whilst on Ecstasy, the risks of potentially overdosing on water are much more pronounced due to the rise in body temperature. Water dilutes the sodium levels in the blood which can cause a lack of vital sodium for bodily functioning, which leads to the brain swelling. Pressure is placed on the brain stem which controls the functioning of the heart and breathing and can therefore potentially be fatal.
Probably the biggest and most significant reason of all for not reclassifying Ecstasy is the fact that most of the time it's not just Ecstasy. The root drug of Ecstasy is known as MDMA, which is basically a form of methamphetamine (Meth).
Most of the time, Ecstasy is not just made up of this drug, but is also combined with several other drugs such as Ketamine - a horse sedative, LSD - a hallucinogenic and speckles of Heroin - the most destructive drug in the world usually evident by visible brown specks on the actual Ecstasy pill.
Given the fact that these are all severely dangerous drugs and are all class-A according the UK government, it makes it impossible for them to downgrade the drug unless they were to downgrade all of them.
There is also a very strong link between depression and the use of Ecstasy. Ecstasy is known to work by causing the neurotransmitters to produce excess levels of the brain chemical, Serotonin. This is the chemical that the brain produces naturally when someone is feeling happy or in love hence the expression being 'loved up' when under the influence.
A fast rush of the chemical is caused in the brain causing the feeling of being high and affectionate to other people. However, when the effects of the drug begin to wear off there is a sudden depletion of Serotonin, which then begins to drain away the chemical until the balance levels are less than there was in the first place before the user even took the drug.
This then leads to the feeling of depression and begins to cause negative thinking patterns. The long term use of Ecstasy is destined to cause severe depression which can then lead to further mental illness such as paranoia and anxiety. Alcohol has the same effect but to a much milder degree.
With the fact that the UK government have only just reclassified Cannabis back to a class B drug and with all this evidence available, it seems that being given professional advice to downgrade Ecstasy is quite a daunting prospect and makes you wonder whether our health experts genuinely know what they are talking about.