Ecstasy: Personal and social consequences

Last modified: Sunday, 31. May 2009 - 2:07 pm

The consumption of ecstasy generally takes place in social settings, such as parties, and users enjoy the drug for its effects of sociability and extroversion. Some ecstasy users report welcoming people from different religious backgrounds and lifestyles, with whom they otherwise would not associate, while others report feeling as if they love and are loved by everyone around them. In this sense, ecstasy users see the social consequences of drug use to be extremely positive and part of the reason for taking the drug in the first place. This drug-induced arousal can lead to unintended sexual encounters and unsafe sex practices that the user not engage in if not under the influence of ecstasy.
The social nature of ecstasy use and feelings of safety and comfort associated with the drug contribute to the consumption of other drugs as well. When a group of peers takes ecstasy together and part of the group decides to take either more ecstasy or some other drug, there is a very good chance that everyone in the group will do the same, trusting their peers not to steer them wrong.
Among ecstasy users there is a perception of approval and safety associated with their drug use. Outside this group, the majority of their peers feel differently. The Monitoring the Future survey asked eighth through twelfth graders their feelings regarding ecstasy’s harmfulness, availability, and whether they approve of others using ecstasy. In 2001, between 35% and 46% of students felt that even one or two instances of ecstasy use placed the user at great risk, more than a 10% increase from twelfth graders five years before. In contrast, 69% to more than 79% of eighth through twelfth graders disapprove of even one or two instances of ecstasy use, showing no change in the perception of twelfth graders from five years prior. Nearly 62% of twelfth graders reported that ecstasy was easy to get, an increase of 200% in the past ten years. So although a high percentage of adolescents do not approve of ecstasy use, many do not believe it to be harmful and could find it if they decided they wanted to use it.
The Mental effects associated with ecstasy, such as mood disorders, learning and memory impairment, paranoia, irrational behavior, and inattention, potentially could interfere with a person’s duties at school or work, although reports of this type of impact are sparse. The culture surrounding ecstasy use is associated with the taking of other drugs; therefore those drugs introduced while on ecstasy have the potential to persist as drug problems beyond the period of ecstasy use. Multiple drug users might experience difficulties with social and occupational functioning, but these effects could not be clearly attributed to ecstasy use. Similarly, crime and violence has been associated much more often with other drugs than with ecstasy (aside from illegal possession of the drug). However, “club drugs” as a group have been associated with sexual offenses, and all drug users are more likely to be involved in traffic accidents while under the influence. Again, as tracking of ecstasy use patterns and trends becomes more widespread, clearer information on the social consequences of ecstasy use will become available.

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