Editors Note: Because of the sensitive nature of this story, the names of those involved have been changed.Stacy grasps her mouth, and jumps off the couch in a desperate sprint to the bathroom. Merely three feet away a projectile splash of water and mushrooms coat the floor. She continues to the bathroom and makes it to the sink before another cascade of dinner and water spill into the sink.
“I think I popped,” says Stacy re-entering the living room, and wiping her face with a towel.
The four friends, Stacy, Tanya, Liz, and E-Lord, wave their intense florescent pink and green glow sticks about three inches from their face, staring in awe. They individually sway their head from side to side to the techno music playing.
Their “roll” has begun as the ecstasy slowly warms the back of their neck and continues rising.
On April 1, 2004, ABC aired, “Ecstasy Rising,” an in-depth report by Peter Jennings that corrected false information regarding ecstasy’s physical repercussions. The ABC special unveiled the government’s false accusations that ecstasy creates holes in the brain, in an effort to control the fastest growing drug in the 1990’s.
Jennings brought this rumor to a screeching halt with his findings. He was able to reveal reliable information that brought truth to the public and discredited the government. He spoke with all the major players including Alexander Shulgin, the chemist who was the first to report ecstasy’s effect, Michael Clegg, the businessman who gave Ecstasy its name and began commercializing the drug, and the drug enforcement officer who fought to make ecstasy illegal.
This new information caught the attention of many ecstasy users, who were thrilled to know their brain wasn’t turning into Swiss cheese.
But Castleton State College nurse Deb Choma and other drug and alcohol experts say that while ecstasy may not cause holes in your brain – it still isn’t good for you.
“It’s not ok,” said Choma, adding that she has seen ecstasy use on campus but that most students “steer clear of it because it messes you up!”
“It’s a chemical you don’t want to use. Don’t go there.”
A problem with E
One probably doesn’t get the nickname E-Lord unless completely worthy, which is why this young man stands on an ecstasy pedestal. Popping 15 ecstasy tablets on a daily basis is not uncommon for E-Lord. This lifestyle doesn’t come cheap however, which is why he deals to help support his habit.
“I’ve spent over $3,000 in one year on ecstasy, he chuckles, and I love it,” he said.
E-Lord said he quickly made friends with many others excited about the drug. He supplied them with ecstasy and told them the findings of the Peter Jennings report to calm their nerves and ease their mind. The information did just that as they popped ecstasy tabs with no regrets of the physical repercussions.
Tanya is one of many extremely satisfied ecstasy customers and good friends with E-Lord. Her fervor for the club drug began when she was merely 16-years-old.
“My first time doing ecstasy I stayed in my room alone for 15 hours and rolled hard,” she said.
That first experiment with the drug left a lasting impression. Tanya sat on her bed with a magazine sprawled across her legs. She began reading an article for what felt like 10 minutes — only it hadn’t been ten minutes, but two hours. She clenches the invisible clock, bringing it too close to her face and squints her eyes while explaining the strange moment. Still in disbelief of the time that had elapsed, she paced through the house to check every clock.
“That’s how I knew I loved it, because it was the craziest thing that’s ever happened,” said Tanya.
After watching the Peter Jennings report, Liz said she felt at ease with the drug, but still felt troubled for other reasons. Ecstasy became a guilty pleasure for Liz, whose boyfriend finally voiced his extreme dislike for the drug.
“It makes me feel dirty now, because my boyfriend hates when I do it,” said Liz.
But she still admits to loving the adventure of it all.
She recalls her first time, rolling with about six people, dancing to techno music, waving glow sticks around, and melting into the plush living room carpet.
“Everyone just let ecstasy do what ecstasy does, and it was the best roll ever,” recalls Liz.
Jeremy Norton is no stranger to drug use and ecstasy experimentation. He now works at Sullivan Academy in Clairmont N.H. to help others who struggle with drug abuse. He mainly works with people who have been to jail and are sentenced to drug counseling as part of their probation.
The spiritual healing is a big part of the remedial process Jeremy Norton explains. Many drug abusers deal with depression, they stop eating, their body is run down, and they often pull away from family.
When asked his opinion of the Peter Jennings report, he strongly voiced his skeptical attitude towards the media.
“The media doesn’t really talk about drugs in an intelligent way,” said Norton.
And while maybe it doesn’t cause holes in the brain, Norton said it’s hardly harmless. He explains the extreme dehydration, altering of spinal chord fluid, and the chance you take of the ecstasy tab being tampered with.
Norton said although he deals with far more cases involving crack and heroin, he said he also dealt with a female prostitute who was selling herself to support her ecstasy habit.
“No matter what it’s gonna bruise you, if you know what I mean?” said Norton.
Kitty Canfield is a certified drug counselor by the state of Vermont. She is currently working at Evergreen Substance Abuse Center in Rutland Vermont, and just recently started a program in Castleton’s Wellness Center. It is in her nature to want to help people dealing with addiction.
“I think everyone that comes to counseling needs to know the disease of addiction,” explains Canfield.
Canfield also stresses the importance of knowing ecstasy’s physical repercussions.
“It does affect the brain,” said Canfield.
She talked about how it decreases serotonin and increases body temperature among users. Canfield said she doesn’t believe everything the media articulates to the public but, “sometimes it gets people to call us and ask more questions,” said Canfield.
Canfield receives calls from parents, schools, family and friends of loved ones wanting more information about alcohol and drug addiction. She educates them on the warming signs, but tells them that the individuals need to call themselves to seek treatment and counseling.
Recovery doesn’t come easy, explains Canfield, and it’s a very big step for someone to agree to counseling.
“There’s a very low rate of success on the first visit. I think it’s about a 20% success rate,” said Canfield.
If not covered by insurance, drug and alcohol counseling can be extremely pricey. It can cost about $100 per session. Thankfully there are cheaper alternatives to drug and alcohol recovery.
Wit’s End is a support group for family members dealing with adolescents and young adults using drugs. It’s confidential with no registration and no fees.
Wit’s End was formed by Patrick and Kathy Martin, when a heroin overdose took the life of their 19-year-old daughter. Wit’s End support group meets every Tuesday from 7:00-8:30 p.m. at the Grace Congregational Church on West Street in Rutland.
So maybe ecstasy doesn’t create holes in your brain but it’s still highly addictive and dangerous. Whenever E-Lord doesn’t take ecstasy, he said he breaks out in hives, turning his arm to the side to reveal recent scars. E-Lord admits to having an addiction, but he said loves it too much to send it packing just yet.
Seven hours after the roll, Stacy Tanya, Liz and E-Lord go their separate ways to relax and let the drug ware off. The less vibrant glow sticks still clutter the living room, as the ecstacy leaves their body.