Pragmatic Dutch Tolerate Ecstasy Use 

Pragmatic Dutch Tolerate Ecstasy Use 
Posted by FoM on April 14, 2001 at 20:50:54 PT
By Keith B. Richburg, WP Foreign Service
Source: Washington Post
At a jam-packed private party at the edge of this city's red-light district, the theme one recent night was 1980s retro, the music was blaring and much of the crowd was in an Ecstasy-energized frenzy."Is this a great party or what?" said a sweaty young American, pushing his way to the bar for three glasses of tap water for himself and two friends. When people are on the drug that's often called just "e," they feel elated and packed with pep. Often they dance so hard that consuming lots of water is essential to prevent serious dehydration.
The young American, a newcomer to the Amsterdam scene, knows all about the potentially dangerous side effects of "e"  the next-day comedown, the slight depression and the repetitive, involuntary tooth-grinding that often leaves e-users with day-after sore gums.But there are ways to counteract these effects, he says, sounding like a veteran user. Chewing gum stops the teeth-gnashing. Eating an orange the morning after helps balance out the mood swings.Drug enforcement officials, lawmakers and health care experts in the United States are sounding a nationwide alarm about Ecstasy, also known as "x" or "happy pills," calling it the fastest-growing drug in the illegal marketplace. There were congressional hearings last year, new federal legislation to stiffen penalties and reports of huge Ecstasy busts by the U.S. Customs Service  2.1 million tablets were seized in Los Angeles last summer.But here in the Netherlands, where an estimated 80 percent of the world's Ecstasy is manufactured, people and government alike treat its use as a fact of the cultural landscape. "It's everywhere," said Monique, a 30-year-old waitress who began using it a decade ago. "I come from a really small village, and it was there," she said, asking that her full name not be used. "At house parties it's still around, definitely."For years, Holland has pursued what may be the industrial world's most tolerant approach to drug use. Amsterdam is dotted with "smoking shops," establishments where people can buy small amounts of marijuana and hashish without fear of prosecution. Officials have extended this tolerance to Ecstasy, and take what they call a pragmatic view that, whether society likes it or not, a certain number of people are going to use the drug, so the risks should be minimized.Here, party-goers can take their Ecstasy pills to a branch of a drug treatment center to have them tested and the contents analyzed. The pill is then handed back. If the clinic technicians cannot immediately determine the content of a pill, they offer to send it to a laboratory for further tests. That's not a problem for most users, because they tend to buy their pills in batches of five or six.Upon completion of the test, "we give them a card telling them what they can expect if they take this pill," said Harold Wychgel, a Health Ministry spokesman.The pill-testing program serves another purpose, he said; it gives the government accurate and up-to-date data on what pills are on the market and how prevalent the use is, as well as a profile of the users.The government has also issued a white paper laying out rules for the underground parties, or "raves," where Ecstasy use is prevalent. For example, party sites must be well ventilated and there must be plenty of free water available, to prevent e-users from becoming dehydrated through all-night dancing. There must also be a "chill-out" room, a cool and quiet place where "ravers" can sit peacefully to calm down.Officials also say their strategy of tolerating use should not be interpreted by their American counterparts as tolerating trafficking and manufacturing. Ecstasy remains illegal in Holland and is classified as a hard drug, like heroin and cocaine.Authorities make war on production sites. In the past year they have dismantled 35, said Peter Reijnders, who heads the Synthetic Drugs Unit, a multi-agency group created in 1997 that includes customs agents, police, tax enforcers and public prosecutors."The Netherlands is a main producer of Ecstasy," Reijnders said. "But the Netherlands is not the only producing country. We see more and more production coming up in other Western countries, Belgium and Greece, and also in Eastern Europe. . .. That is why it is important to put emphasis on international cooperation."The typical Ecstasy laboratory is a fairly complex affair, somewhat larger than the "kitchenettes" used to manufacture methamphetamine in the United States. Two chemical precursors are required, which come from Eastern Europe and, in smaller amounts, Southeast Asia, officials said.As always with illegal drugs, the profits are huge, so organized crime has a stake in keeping the trade and manufacturing alive. One tablet can be made for about $1 maximum, and usually a bit less. In the house-party scene in New York, one tablet can fetch as much as $20.The small size of Ecstasy tablets also makes them easy to smuggle across borders. Sometimes they're disguised; the Dutch police have found them being shipped out in vitamin bottles. The pills come in different colors  blue, green, brown, orange  and sometimes with small emblems stamped on them that give them their nicknames. One popular brand, for example, is the "blue butterfly," which shows the butterfly stamped on its front.Invented by German psychiatrists in 1912, and used to combat depression and to help couples having trouble in their sexual relationships, the aptly named Ecstasy  known as the "love drug" because it engenders feelings of warmth and a heightened sexuality  was not even illegal until the 1980s, when it was discovered that it was being used on the rave party scene, which originated in Britain.There have been a handful of deaths attributed to Ecstasy, mostly in Britain and mostly young people who suffered severe dehydration from all-night dancing. But for years, "e," which has the chemical name MDMA for methylenedioxymethamphetamine, has been seen here as a relatively benign drug, not addictive and with relatively minor side effects.The drug works by stimulating the brain to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects feelings of happiness. There may also be mild, pleasant hallucinations and an increase in energy.New scientific research now suggests that over time, and with heavy use, the "love drug" may not be so benign. The brain can produce only a finite amount of serotonin over a lifetime, so heavy "e" use  several pills every weekend for years  may cause the serotonin to be used up, perhaps making depression more likely later in life. The National Institute on Drug Abuse also has reported that Ecstasy use increases heart rate and blood pressure and may lead to liver damage. And heavy use may cause problems with memory.Still, many people here, whether they're health and legal experts or casual weekend users, consider the official American reaction alarmist. "I think . . . the Americans are overreacting," said Tim Boekhout van Solinge, a researcher and lecturer in criminology who has studied Ecstasy use extensively."I've gone to raves with researchers and I've spoken to dozens of rave-goers," he said. "One thing I've found is that rave-goers are so responsible.""This is a trend," he said. "It's not going to stay. It's so much linked to a specific youth culture, the rave scene. And no one thinks the rave scene is going to last 20 years."Boekhout van Solinge and other experts also dispute American suggestions that tolerance of soft drugs such as marijuana leads young people to try harder drugs later on.There is one worrying trend, officials here say: As more reports come in of the potential dangers of Ecstasy, some party-goers may be switching back to another old favorite drug, cocaine.Source: Washington Post (DC) Author: Keith B. Richburg, Washington Post Foreign ServicePublished: Sunday, April 15, 2001; Page A16Copyright: 2001 The Washington Post Company Contact: letterstoed washpost.comWebsite: Articles:For The Dutch, Ecstasy Just The Latest Fad Ecstasy Generation Articles - Ecstasy 
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Comment #13 posted by WHHHAAAT?! on April 21, 2001 at 02:25:02 PT
erioid?!! that site is full of it!
yea of course you would goto eriod. That site is full of rumors too i bet. I've always known that they "claim" xtc isnt addictive. So what. They "claim" it. Obivously they are either LYING, or they do not have the experience with the drug that most REAL ravers have. Any REAL raver will tell you that xtc is physically addictive. How about that? It's true.And also, let me prove that you guys claim weed is more addictive than heroin.You all say that cigarettes are just as much or more addictive than heroin, right? Well, I've smoked cigarettes for almost 10 years straight, and I'm not even than addictied to them. I am psychologically, but not physcially. I get barely any withdrawls when I don't have any. But when I dont have any weed, I get WAY WAY WAY worse physical withdrawls from the weed than I ever could with the cigarettes. I know it's hard for you to believe me over all the propaganda bullshit that's been pounded into your brain, but at least consider WHY i would lie about something stupid like this. I am NOT an anti, and I hate anti's more than anyone. I am just here to tell the truth. I get sick of people spreading rumors about drugs, when they don't even have the experience with them.I have used all the drugs in the past, so I have experience. I can't say the same for most of you. ANYONE how smoks marijuana the RIGHT way(All day long), for more than 2 months WILL get physically addicted to it. I'm sure the addiction would come sooner, but I'm giving you leway. I am a very very nice person, and so I just give you leway, so I'll say 2 months, but REALLY you could get physically addicted to it within 1 week of smoking. It is a seriously physically addicting drug. I can't believe sometimes that this rumor could still be around, but do some studying and you WILL find many internet sites that are NOT government sites, but ARE sites about the TRUTH, and they all claim that marijauna has recently been found to be physically addciting. I have figured out all the reasons why most people dont get addicted to it. Don't believe everything you read, because experience is the only way to KNOW.If you keep believing propaganda, you'll never know the truth, and I just want everyone to know the truth.
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Comment #12 posted by observer on April 17, 2001 at 14:26:13 PT
Cannabis, MDMA Physically Addicting? Nah.
no rumors pleaseUm ... yeah. Good idea.cannibis and xtc are BOTH physically addicting. They are? seeThe Relative Addictiveness of Drugs According to NIDA's Own Researcher is not "physically addictive."Marijuana produces no withdrawal symptoms no matter how heavy it is used. It is habit forming (psychologically addictive), but not physically addictive. The majority of people who quit marijuana don't even have to think twice about it. Comparing marijuana to addictive drugs is really quite silly.For a drug to be physically addictive, it must be reinforcing, produce withdrawal symptoms, and produce tolerance. Marijuana is reinforcing, because it feels good, but it does not do the other two things. Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol are all physically addictive. etc. Xtc causes withdrawls more often, but most of the time, the cannibis withdrawls are more severe. . .Sounds like a rumor to me.``MDMA Effects . . . not physically addictive'' 
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Comment #11 posted by WHAT NAME? on April 17, 2001 at 13:50:30 PT
no rumors please
cannibis and xtc are BOTH physically addicting.Xtc causes withdrawls more often, but most of the time, the cannibis withdrawls are more severe, probably due to the fact the the drug is used more.MDMA withdrawls includeheadacheinsomniarestlessnessmigraineextreme sensitivity to the sensesnauseaincreased hungerloss of appetite is possible alsoany number of withdrawls can hit from heavy xtc use.I used to be addicted to it. I ate it every other day for months, until I had an extreme over-dose, and I had to quit.I got the most serious withdrawls ever from the over dose though.I almost DIED.You wouldn't beleieve what happened, but it's too hard to explain it all. It would take forever.
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Comment #10 posted by david on April 16, 2001 at 03:51:39 PT:
don't worry too much
Personally I see people growing out of the XTC 'thing'. It's not the scene that's changing but the people. After a while the fuzzy, warm cuddly feeling is not really attractive anymore. Cocaine is a nice 'up&away' drug and, like cannabis and xtc, not physically addictive (Mentally yes). Effects are more immediate and short-term and rebound not so heavy. So nothing to worry about! I am surprised it was not spotted on the '80 party... 
The Mind's High - alldrugs page
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Comment #9 posted by DrJay on April 15, 2001 at 19:37:05 PT
Don't Overdemonize GHB 
   GHB -- aka Liquid XTC -- isn't Ecstasy, but in small quantities it is also a relatively safe drug for most people, so please don't overdemonize it here. It gives a high somewhat similar to a fair dose of Valium (or perhaps if you mixed a moderate amount of Valium with maybe just a little bit of alcohol -- if you can imagine that), so, unlike Ecstasy, it is more of a downer than an upper. It does engender some feelings of warmth and love, not nearly as much as Ecstasy, but that is undoubtedly why its passed off as Liquid XTC sometimes. It doesn't mix well with any more than tiny amounts of alcohol, and that's where many users get into trouble, but the far more dangerous drug in this combo is the alcohol, not the GHB.   Please remember that safety is a relative term -- no drug is 100% safe, not GHB, not Ecstasy. But some drugs are relatively safer than others. Of course, the safest by far of all the illegal drugs (and even practically all the legal drugs, for that matter) is our top choice of a drug which also often promotes feelings of warmth and love -- namely, cannabis.     
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Comment #8 posted by MikeEEEEE on April 15, 2001 at 18:23:22 PT
health care experts in the United States are sounding a nationwide alarm about EcstasyWhat else is new, everytime there's a new drug they sound the alarm. The Dutch are very smart people, they've saved countless billions not fighting a stupid war.I recently heard the Dutch told the US to f'off, that's funny. 
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Comment #7 posted by swagman on April 15, 2001 at 13:46:01 PT
Liquid XTC
2 weeks ago a kid "overdosed" at a rave in my city after getting drunk and taking what the news reported as "liquid ecstacy". Of course, this was just to scare parents by making the threat of ecstacy even realer, and scary news make people want to buy more papers.The drug was actually GHB.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on April 15, 2001 at 12:20:43 PT
Just Hello
You all are the coolest! Happy Easter Everyone. I'm eating too much candy but what a good excuse I have today. I still haven't found any news but I'm still looking. All the newspaper people must be home eating too much candy too!
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Comment #5 posted by Rambler on April 15, 2001 at 11:50:29 PT
The scourge of Propaganda
is a threat to our children,and like a cancerous tumor,itis nearly impossible to remove without leaving a scar,andeven after the tumor is removed,chances are that it will rearits ugly head again. One of the most insidious aspects of "P",is that it can be slippedinto the minds of a large group of people without their knowledge.After years of consuming this poison,the addicts will be so strungout,that they will deny ever taking this substance.In many cases,they will deny it even exsists.What we need is W.O.P.  The War On Propaganda.P.S. Observer,you are extra cool.
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Comment #4 posted by observer on April 15, 2001 at 09:47:55 PT
``This drug is known as Propaganda''
 party at . . . red-light district . . .the crowd was in an Ecstasy-energized frenzy. ``Wild, Mad, THRILLS!'' . . . ``DRUG CRAZED ABANDON!"see: sweaty young American, . . . on the drug that's often called just "e,". . . . . . The young American, a newcomer to the Amsterdam scene [5.] The drug is associated with the corruption of young children, particularly their sexual corruption.Themes in Chemical Prohibition, NIDA, 1979 Often they dance so hard that consuming lots of water is essential to prevent serious dehydration. Yes, same for hikers, etc. Also, hikers, for example, are known to consume salt tablets to restore depleted electrolytes. . . the repetitive, involuntary tooth-grinding that often leaves e-users with day-after sore gums. . . sounding like a veteran user. [6.] Both User and Supplier Are Defined as FiendsThemes in Chemical Prohibition, NIDA, 1979 Drug enforcement officials, lawmakers and health care experts in the United States are sounding a nationwide alarm about Ecstasy, Officials? check.Experts? check.Authorities? ... What about the "authorities"? I hope we have some "authorities" weigh in, telling us what demons those e users are. I mean, we have "officials" and "experts" . . . we must have "authorities", also, to denounce the hated group and/or their drug.. . . Authorities make war on production sites. Whew!(Propaganda techniques used? Testimonial, perhaps Bandwagon, too, after a big parade of officials, experts, and authorities pass judgement.) Drug enforcement officials, lawmakers and health care experts in the United States are sounding a nationwide alarm about Ecstasy, You have to appreciate all the various ways "PROPAGANDA CAMPAIGN" can be euphemized! I guess the phrase "sounding a nationwide alarm" will work as well as many other such stock euphemisms. The motion picture you are about to witness may startle you .It would not have been possible otherwise, to sufficiently emphasize the frightful toll of the new drug menace which is destroying the youth of America in alarmingly increasing numbers. . . .This ceasless fight against the drug traffic is directed by the Department of Narcotics, Washington. . . .[thumps desk]That is the purpose of this meeting ladies and gentlemen. To lay the foundation for a nationwide campaign by you to demand by law, such compulsory education. Because it is only through enlightenment, that this scourge can be wiped out.-- Reefer Madness, 1936 The small size of Ecstasy tablets also makes them easy to smuggle across borders. Sometimes they're disguised; the Dutch police have found them being shipped out in vitamin bottles. . . . They are hidden in fake jewelry cases, in the heels of shoes, women's shoes especially, because the drugs can be secreted in false heels. Hollow shaving brushes are another means, books with false centers are often used; watchcases are convenient hiding places. . .-- Reefer Madness, 1936 the hated group, and their drugs.Same old, same old.
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Comment #3 posted by Jordan on April 15, 2001 at 09:29:44 PT:
What you call liquid ecstasy is probably GHB, which has nothing to do with Ecstasy, dealers just call it liquid ecstasy cause that's good marketing... it's dangerous cause you never know how strong it is, sometimes it's been watered out, and sometimes it's just very pure...
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Comment #2 posted by turandot on April 15, 2001 at 08:43:20 PT:
Liquid EXTC
About one year ago I heard the first time about liquid EXTC it's just a litle botle and you can drink it ofcourse.Now the new type of drug is a real plage in Belgium and people use it in combination with alcohol and that is verry dangerous. I write this message because a friend of my almost died of an overdose, luckely for him medics could safe his life.We say liquid EXTC but it's not the same chemical substance as a tablet and more dangerous. When you try it out use it with care and don't mix it with alcohol.My English ain't verry well.Thank you for reading 
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Comment #1 posted by Rambler on April 15, 2001 at 02:37:31 PT
The Worst Drug of all
It's not a new drug,but it turns out that it has been given to more and morepeople without their knowledge.In fact,most people aren't even aware whenthey are under its influence.This drug affects more people than heroin,cocaine,meth,pot,nicotine,alcohol,and caffeine combined.It is administered to people whowillingly consume it in large doses,and is responsible for untold numbers of deaths,sickness,and disease the world over.This drug is known as Propaganda. Streetnames: P,Bullshit,Lies,News,Reports,Studies,Policy.It is availiable on any TV,or newstand.There are no laws against it.have fun
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