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Drugs, Drink'n and Smok'n Part I

By Mike Moreno

August 2001

This is a two-part series on drugs. This month I'm writing about ecstasy, crystal-meth and cannabis and their side effects. When you take meds of any kind or mix any of the drugs listed, you increase your chances of something going wrong. It's not just the drugs; it's also the people you're with, their motives and yours.


What Is Ecstasy or X or E?

Ecstasy, X or E are all names for MDMA, or 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine. It belongs to a family of drugs called "entactogens," which literally means "touching within." Other drugs in this category include MDA, MDE and MBDB. Before it became illegal in 1985, MDMA was used by psychiatrists as a therapeutic tool. Studies are currently underway in Spain and Israel assessing MDMA's effectiveness in the treatment of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). E is almost always swallowed as a tablet or capsule. A normal dose is around 100-125mg. Ecstasy tablets vary widely in strength, and often contain other drugs.


Effects

If you are going to take ecstasy, drinking water is vital. You should drink about a pint of water every hour. Sip water slowly rather than drinking a lot all at once, as this can be dangerous. Eat something salty and drink juice or Gatorade. This will replenish electrolytes and prevent hyponaetremia (water toxicity). Take breaks, allow your body to cool down, wear loose-fitting clothes and don't wear a hat, which keeps the heat in.

If someone collapses on ecstasy, call 911 immediately! Get them to a cool place. Drench them with water (as cold as possible). Fan them. Once the person's temperature is down, wrap them in a blanket or give them dry clothes. Be careful that the person's temperature should not fall below 102 degrees or serious consequences could develop. When help comes tell them what drug the person took and that you think the person is suffering from heat stroke. Be sure to get this person to a hospital as soon as possible! Alcohol is absolutely useless and dangerous for someone on ecstasy. Alcohol will dehydrate even more!

Remember that water is an antidote to dehydration, not ecstasy. Watch Out for DXM! Sometimes ecstasy tablets do not contain real ecstasy. DXM is a cough suppressant that dries the lungs and is often found in fake ecstasy tablets, DXM is even more likely to cause heat stroke. If you take a pill and start losing motor control of your body, hallucinate, feel very "out of your body," or if your skin itches, you may have taken DXM. Don't combine different types of ecstasy, accidentally getting DXM is bad enough, but accidentally combining it with real ecstasy is even worse.


Contraindications (Medications and Health Conditions that Pose Considerable Risk)


What Is Speed, Crystal-Meth or Tina?

Speed, Crystal, or Tina (amphetamine or methamphetamine) as it may be referred to is a stimulant drug; it produces alertness, confidence and raises levels of energy and stamina. It can reduce appetite and lessens the desire and ability to sleep. Regular use of speed can produce a need to increase the dose to get the same effect. Speed can produce a powerful craving for more of the drug. Long-term use can result in serious mental and physical problems. Speed can be swallowed, snorted (bumped), smoked, booty bumped (anally) or injected. Snorting speed takes effect faster than swallowing but it can damage the nose. Anal use is similar to swallowing in that it takes effect slower but last longer than other ways of introduction in to the body, Smoking speed takes effect immediately and can more easily lead to addiction. Injecting is the riskiest method of using speed. Speed is illegal.


Effects


What Is Cannabis, Weed, Dope or Pot?

Cannabis, or marijuana, comes from a plant. The dried buds of the female plant contain the highest concentration of psychoactive compounds. These buds are usually what is sold and consumed as marijuana. Cannabis usually costs about $10-$20 a gram and is illegal. Cannabis is usually smoked, although it can be eaten. Joints are the most common method of smoking but a wide range of pipes, bongs, hookahs, and other devices are also used. Cannabis can be prepared in butter or cooked directly into foods for ingestion. Often people will cook with the leaves of the plant rather than the buds.


Effects

Next month I will cover the effects of GHB, ketemine, cocaine, alcohol and crack. Until then, be safe and be healthy.

For further information on drugs and how they can effect you, if you are in Atlanta, visit the AIDS Survival Project Treatment Resource Center where free and confidential assistance is offered to everyone. You can also contact the Atlanta Harm Reduction Center at 404-526-9222 or if you need counseling contact, Positive Impact at 404-589--9040. If you'd like to talk to someone anonymously, you can always call an ASP Peer Counselor at 404-874-7926 to talk. Peer Counselors have many regional and national referrals available for you. Thanks to DanceSafe for providing the above drug information, visit them at www.dancesafe.org.




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