Students Talk About Club Drug Dangers at NIC-9 Conference

By: Erica Hurtt
By: Erica Hurtt

The use of club drugs like ecstasy and GHB, by stateline teens is on the rise. But area schools are trying to address the problem by getting students to spread the word about the dangers.

Club drugs like ecstasy, GHB and ketamine are a growing problem in the stateline.

"At school I hear a lot about it. People go out to clubs and do it at their homes. It's really pretty easy to get nowadays,” says Jefferson High senior Elise Gilbert.

With kitchy nicknames like special k and trendy designs, teens can be an easy target.

It's just a pill. It's easy to take and I don't think people imagine anything that easy to obtain could be so dangerous and easy to use,” comments senior Brett Strand of Boylan Catholic High.

Now let's bring it home to Hononegah, Jefferson and Harlem.

At the Northern Illinois Leadership Conference students learn how to become leaders, but this year the focus is on how to deter drug use at school.

"The drug culture is giving them one message and they don't always hear the other side, so it's eye opening for them and gets them to think,” says NIC-9 conference coordinator Paul Perrone.

Most of the students at the conference don't use club drugs or any drugs for that matter. But organizers hope they'll take the message back to their schools and their peers.

"I think it's our responsibility because a lot of kids don't listen to adults,” adds Gilbert.

With a message like this, there can't be too many messengers. About 160 students from nine schools attended the conference.

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Ecstacy Facts

  • Its chemical structure, 3-4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, (MDMA) is similar to methamphetamine, methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA), and mescaline - other synthetic drugs known to cause brain damage. MDMA is a synthetic, psychoactive drug with both stimulant (amphetamine-like) and hallucinogenic (LSD-like) properties. Street names for MDMA include Ecstasy, Adam, XTC, hug, beans, and love drug.
  • MDMA also is neurotoxic. In addition, in high doses it can cause a sharp increase in body temperature (malignant hyperthermia) leading to muscle breakdown and kidney and cardiovascular system failure.

Health Hazards

  • Brain imaging research in humans indicates that MDMA causes injury to the brain, affecting neurons that use the chemical serotonin to communicate with other neurons.
  • The serotonin system plays a direct role in regulating mood, aggression, sexual activity, sleep, and sensitivity to pain. Many of the risks users face with MDMA use are similar to those found with the use of cocaine and amphetamines.
  • Psychological difficulties, including confusion, depression, sleep problems, drug craving, severe anxiety, and paranoia - during and sometimes weeks after taking MDMA.
  • Physical symptoms such as muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, rapid eye movement, faintness, and chills or sweating.
  • Increases in heart rate and blood pressure, a special risk for people with circulatory or heart disease.
  • Also, there is evidence that people who develop a rash that looks like acne after using MDMA may be risking severe side effects, including liver damage, if they continue to use the drug.

Use Among Teens

  • From 1999 to 2000, the use of MDMA increased among all three grade levels, eighth, tenth, and twelfth.
  • For tenth and twelfth graders, this is the second consecutive year MDMA use has increased.
  • Past year use of MDMA increased among eighth graders from 1.7 percent in 1999 to 3.1 percent in 2000; from 4.4 percent to 5.4 percent among tenth graders; and from 5.6 percent to 8.2 percent among twelfth graders.
  • Also among twelfth graders, the perceived availability of MDMA rose from 40.1 percent in 1999 to 51.4 percent in 2000.

Source: www.nida.org (National Institute on Drug Abuse Web site) contributed to this report.


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