"I didn't care about anyone or anything. I just cared about doing my own thing, selling and partying. I'd take out anyone who got in my way. Ecstasy is a roller coaster. It brings you up so high that you feel like you " re on top of the world.

When you come down you feel like a complete outsider, like you don't belong anywhere," said Daniel Oe rum, 17, former ecstasy abuser in treatment. Yet the popularity of club drugs, such as ecstasy, has increased exponentially in recent years causing major cause for concern. The U. S. government must extend the "War on Drugs" to tailor to the surge of ecstasy use.

A 1998 survey found that an estimated 3. 4 million Americans over the age of 12 years old had tried MDMA (ecstasy) at least once during their lifetime (National Institute on Drug Abuse). And Trial use of ecstasy has doubled since 1995 (Partnership for a Drug-Free America). These statistics vividly portray a problematic picture.

The first reported death due to the use of ecstasy was reported in 1987, and since that time many more have died from popping the "feel good drug." Many are unaware of why ecstasy is dangerous. MDMA differs from drugs that derive from plants (i. e. marijuana and cocaine) because they are synthesized in clandestine laboratories. Concentration levels can significantly vary between pills due to the use of different cutting agents, and therefore, there is no such thing as a safe dosage of the drug. "X" is labeled a club drug because it produces a loving and tranquil feeling with a tremendous high point that most club or "rave" goers enjoy.

Where the drug is being used contributes to how dangerous it can be. When combined with a crowded, hot club and alcohol, ecstasy can quickly cause a user to overheat and dehydrate. Club owners often overlook the use of the drug because a large portion of their customers are using it, and they would lose money if those customers were turned away. Like most illegal drugs, MDMA use can lead to some health risks. Besides the risk of dehydration and death, short-term effects of ecstasy mostly occur when coming down off the drug or finished "rolling." Panic or anxiety attacks can take place after using MDMA. Further, the user can be left feeling depressed and alone, and then become dependent on the drug to achieve any type of happiness.

Long-term effects of MDMA can debilitate a user's brain and liver. The drug attacks levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a critical neuro chemical that regulates mood, emotion, learning, memory, sleep, pain. Levels of serotonin in MDMA users are considerably less than in non-users.

The drug also attacks liver cells and can lead to liver toxicity and reoccurring flu-like symptoms. The U. S. is slowly realizing the dangers of ecstasy and penalties for crimes related to the drug have increased. The U. S.

Sentencing Commission stiffened guideline penalties for selling the drug ecstasy, more than tripling potential jail terms to over 6 years for people caught selling 800 pills. In addition, there are organizations such as The National Institute for Drug Abuse that help get the word out about X. However, the solution cannot be solved so easily. Parents must be involved as early as possible to educate their children, and realize if their child is going to late-night clubs that they are at a higher risk of abusing the drug. Some responsibility must be put on the club owners as well. They should employ more security guards or ask local police to keep the club a drug-free place.

Lastly, raiding laboratories where the drug is produced would lower the availability of the drug and combat the problem from the supply side. In recent months, the U. S. has slowly become active and put ecstasy abuse on the agenda.

However, as long as the drug is so readily available, not enough is being done. Hopefully, police will begin to adopt a no-tolerance policy for the drug and start to crack down on this serious problem.