Pubdate: Thu, 08 Jul 2010
Source: Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA)
Copyright: 2010 The Press-Enterprise Company
Author: Mitchell Rosen


I read in this week's newspaper that the use of Ecstasy among
adolescents is increasing.

A 15-year-old girl who attended a rave in Los Angeles last week was
found dead from what appears to be a drug overdose. For those who are
not aware, Ecstasy is a combination of amphetamines and hallucinogens.
Imagine taking speed and LSD and you have a glimpse of what Ecstasy is

According to the article, the amount of Ecstasy seized by drug agents
in LA County has doubled in the past five years.

I speak with a lot of adolescents in Riverside County, and they tell
me the same thing: the availability and use of Ecstasy, X or E as it
is called, has exploded.

As I understand the drug, it is dehydration or lack of water coupled
with intense, non-stop dancing that ultimately leads to death. The
rave participants are having such a fun time hallucinating and dancing
they forget to take a rest, drink some water and stay alive.

I'm not a big fan of any drug, but parents should be cautioned that
unlike marijuana, young people are getting very ill from Ecstasy and
unfortunately, the victim is the last to realize this.

At my offices in Temecula and Corona, I have seen a doubling of
Ecstasy related cases -- situations where the parents or schools
discover Ecstasy and refer the student for counseling.

Most of these teens are nice kids from nice families. Not gang-bangers
or even marginal students. They look right out of Seventeen magazine
with their scrubbed clean faces and shiny hair.

The problem is, very few have any idea that Ecstasy comes with a price
tag. It has been difficult to get these young people to heed any advice.

They feel that parents and educators have overly dramatized the perils
of drugs, especially pot, so when they hear information about Ecstasy,
they tend to glaze over and not pay attention.

We need to be clearer with our adolescents when we are discussing
alcohol and drugs. There is a difference between marijuana and
methamphetamines just like it is a mistake to assume kids don't
overdose and die from alcohol.

Instead of simply stating all drugs, including alcohol, are bad, we
would boost credibility by speaking about the specific perils of each

Clearly, without inflammatory rhetoric, give the facts.

There is a chance marijuana may be legalized this November, and it is
already legal in the state of California for those who have a doctor's

Kids look at this and many wonder, "If pot were so bad, then why would
California and many other states be debating legalizing its use?" Fair
enough question that deserves a straight, non-hysterical answer.

Both use of pot and alcohol by minors carry physical ramifications as
well as legal ones.

It is tough enough to establish credibility with adolescents who
already are suspect of much of what is said by the older generation.

I'm not advocating starting a lecture with "marijuana is good and
Ecstasy is bad."

Rather, take each drug or substance and educate the student about the
potential risks, legal, medical, social and otherwise. If we don't
change the way we are attempting to reach our young people, we may
lose more to ignorance.

My heart goes out to the family of the 15-year-old girl who

I don't blame the parents, schools or drug counselors; at 15 she was
old enough to sift through the available information and make an
informed choice.

I am just advocating that we give our young people straight, factual
information and stay away from lumping all substances together.

Mitchell Rosen, M.A., is a licensed marriage and family therapist with
practices in Corona and Temecula.
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