E for Ecstasy by Nicholas Saunders
Appendix 1: Reference Section
- 37 The Phenomenology of Ecstasy Use, by Teresa O'Dwyer, Senior
Registrar of Adult Psychiatry at St Thomas' Hospital, Morpeth, November
- This paper is an account of a study of users' experiences on Ecstasy
and the patterns and circumstances of their use undertaken by the Leeds
Addiction Unit between January and September 1992. 33 subjects aged between
16 and 27 - mostly male - were referred by the LAU and given a questionnaire,
part of which they completed themselves and part of which was filled in
- 70% of respondents used Ecstasy on weekends only. Half had tried it
only once. 31% had never taken more than one E at a time, but 12% had used
over 7. During the onset of the drug, the apprehension felt by inexperienced
users sometimes developed into panic. Many said it was essential to feel
very hot to get the full effect of the drug. To this end, a group of friends
once drove around in a car with the heater on.
- All respondents described an increase in social interaction under MDMA,
an increased ability to approach and relate to strangers, and an enhanced
ability to express affection. The drug also seemed to produce an attitude
of recklessness where users had little concern about the consequences of
what they were doing, although only two had had accidents.
- Thoughts about sex when on E were not always matched by real desire.
Establishing a 'meaningful relationship' was felt to be an essential part
of foreplay. Some found sex while on Ecstasy disappointing while for others
it was enhanced.
- The name 'Ecstasy' was regarded as appropriate by many respondents.
Their comments on the mood induced by the drug included "I cried for
joy", "It's the best feeling you could ever have", "Like
I've just been woken from a dream to really experience life". Some
felt privileged to have had the E experience, and one respondent expressed
this by saying "We have a secret that no-one else has".
- A depressed mood is reported by most users as the after effect of taking
E and this sometimes lasted for a couple of days. Paranoia was reported
by 85%. "For many, this began as an awareness of beingadmired by others.
Gradually as the weeks passed, this admiring regard changed to critical
scrutiny and ridicule. Increased sensitivity to comments and a tendency
to interpret situations in a threatening way was described by some,"
O'Dwyer says. Most people experienced a hangover lasting from 12 to 24 hours,
but for some this lasted for up to a week.
- The thoughts most frequently reported on E relate to music, dancing
and affection for companions. 60% felt E had changed the way they looked
at their life. Over half 'felt that while under the influence of Ecstasy
they could see a new significance in current and past events'. Over half
reported losing personal interests including sport and drinking, but a third
said they gained new interests, such as music and clothes. Thinking could
become focused but was also sometimes distracted: "The most elaborate,
complicated solutions are arrived at only to find that the initial problem
is now forgotten," O'Dwyer said.
- 76% of respondents had lost weight averaging one stone through taking
E. All frequent users reported that they became tolerant to Ecstasy. To
maintain the effect, they had to increase the dose, but this also increased
the side effects of nausea, cramp, depression and paranoia. Some took a
break from using the drug for a few weeks for this reason. 58% of respondents
said they had stopped using Ecstasy. The most common reasons given were
that it was no longer providing enough pleasure; it had caused problems
due to the associated lifestyle of all-night raving or it caused paranoia
or concerns about health. 30% reported social problems such as losing their
job or the break-up of a relationship following using E. Most felt that
the quality of the drug had deteriorated.
E is for Ecstasy by Nicholas Saunders (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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by Nicholas Saunders