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YOUR PROBLEMS: I need to know the downside of drugs; LETTER OF THE DAY.

Byline: Miriam Stoppard

I'M 18 and have been going out clubbing for a while. I've started going to a new place with new people and they all take ecstasy.

I've started taking it when I go and, although I enjoy the feeling of confidence and freedom it gives me, after all the recent debate on drugs I'm aware there are dangers.

I'm hoping that, if you tell me about them, it might put me off taking ecstasy because, at the moment, I don't enjoy going out unless I've taken it.

I read about a young girl dying from taking ecstasy and it put me off for a bit, so I started speed instead. My friends say it is less dangerous, so should I stick to that?

ALL recreational drugs can be dangerous, especially when you ignore safety precautions like chilling out and drinking lots of water.

Speed, if anything, is more dangerous than ecstasy and can bring on a heart attack, even in healthy young people, and the comedown is awful. The active chemical in ecstasy, MDMA, may be "cut" with other rubbish such as dog worming pills or talcum powder to bulk out the tablet.

Powerful drugs such as amphetamine, ketamine (an anaesthetic) or selegaline (used to treat Parkinson's disease) are also added, giving horrible unexpected side effects.

A bad ecstasy experience is far from pleasurable:

YOUR heart pounds, you feel sick and you might even throw up.

YOU can become overstimulated, jumpy and panicky. Your arms and legs may stiffen and you might clench your jaw and grind your teeth.

YOU can start to hallucinate.

DANCING for hours makes you too hot; you lose salt as you sweat and your energy is sapped. You become dehydrated which can lead to heat-stroke.

Liver and kidney failure can occur if a high dose of speed is mixed with alcohol and both conditions are fatal. Small blood vessels may burst in your brain leading to paralysis or coma. Heavy, regular speed use can also have serious psychological affects; it can lead to a complete mental breakdown and amphetamine psychosis, which means you become paranoid, agitated and suspicious of everybody. Please don't take it.

If you take drugs you have to drink water, but too much leads to water poisoning with unconsciousness and death. Drinking more than three pints of water per hour is very dangerous.

The best way is to sip a half pint of liquid every half hour; high energy sports drinks are best, then fruit juice or water.

Don't drink alcohol as it will make you more dehydrated and it's truly nasty when combined with amphetamine.

I haven't told you all this to frighten you but to encourage you to get yourself clued up about taking drugs.

Before you even think about taking any more stuff, I recommend you read my Drugs Info File which you can get from the library.
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 12, 2002
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