latest about GHB & MDMA (Ecstasy) at Northern Illinois University
First a little history.
Since 1988, the University Health Service has been conducting surveys
of NIU student health behaviors. One area we assess is alcohol and other
drug use behaviors. Results of our research show that alcohol is the
drug of choice for NIU students, with about 70% reporting using it at
some time in the last 30 days and 75% reporting using it at some time
in the last 12 months. Although students use alcohol more frequently
than any other drug we've asked about, most students drink moderately.
Most NIU students drink 0-4 drinks per week, on average, and "party"
one time per week or not at all.
In addition to NIU
students reporting using alcohol, a minority of students also reported
using GHB (Gamma-hydroxybutyrate) and/or MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine).
In this article, we will give an update about GHB and MDMA use on campus.
Our Spring 2001 survey yielded the following results: 1.3% of NIU students
reported using GHB in the last 30 days while 4.1% reported using GHB
in the last 12 months; and, 4.1% of NIU students reported using MDMA
in the last 30 days while 14.2% reported using MDMA in the last 12 months.
(Data based on 2001 Annual Student Health Behavior Assessment conducted
by the University Health Service, n=1318.)
Clearly, the norm
(what is true for most students) at NIU for both GHB and MDMA is non-use.
As Student Affairs professionals, we need to do all we can to accurately
report use of these substances so as not to increase the perception
that this behavior is more common than it is. By being accurate in our
reporting, we are able to support the norm of non-use and also not reinforce
the inaccurate perception that "everyone's doing it." Reinforcing
this false norm may give the unintended message that if a person considers
him/herself a normal NIU student, then perhaps he/she should try GHB
or MDMA, like everyone else.
While it is true
that the norm is non-use, it is also true that both GHB and MDMA have
risks associated with their use like most other drugs. As such, it is
important to be able to provide our students and ourselves with accurate
information, in order to reduce the likelihood of harm. What follows
is a brief overview of the effects of these substances.
Both GHB and MDMA
are illicitly produced in uncontrolled "street labs" where
there is no quality control. Therefore, it is nearly impossible to predict
how an individual will react to them. Factors impacting an individual's
reaction to GHB and MDMA include but are not limited to:
- Actual vs. reported
content of the drug
- Amount of the
- Purity of the
- User's perception
of drug effects
- Actual effects
- Environment in
which the drug is used
- User's physical
and emotional well-being
- Other substances
taken at the same time
GHB is a central
nervous system depressant that can relax or sedate the body. Primarily
used in liquid form and almost always taken orally, effects begin within
15 minutes to an hour after ingestion and last approximately 1 to 4
hours. GHB produces intoxication effects similar to that of alcohol
(euphoria, disinhibition, etc.), but without an appreciable hangover.
Some GHB effects sought by users are considered positive (relaxation,
inhibition reduction, etc.) while others can be negative and harmful
with effects ranging from simple discomfort to life-endangerment. Reactions
and dosage can vary greatly causing unpredictable results. Loss of consciousness,
disorientation, stiffness, breathing problems, and coma have been reported,
especially when GHB is combined with alcohol or other depressants. Combining
GHB and alcohol can be extremely risky.
MDMA, commonly known
as Ecstasy, is also referred to as "X", "E", "XTC"
or "Adam." It is a synthetic, psychoactive (mind-altering)
drug with amphetamine-like and hallucinogenic properties that is chemically
related to both amphetamine (speed) and mescaline (a hallucinogen).
MDMA is a white crystalline powder that is most often used in the form
of tablets embossed with pop culture icons. MDMA's main action is to
increase levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter
that controls emotions, anxiety and clear thought or judgment.
Taken orally, MDMA's
effects begin within 15 minutes to an hour after ingestion and last
approximately 3 to 6 hours. The effects of MDMA can be positive, neutral,
or negative and may include one or more of the following: relaxed mood,
feelings of openness and empathy, stimulation, anxiety, increased blood
pressure and heart rate, nervousness, irritability, insomnia, loss of
appetite, increased body temperature, and teeth grinding.
In high doses, MDMA
can be extremely dangerous. It can cause a marked increase in body temperature
leading to muscle breakdown and kidney and cardiovascular system failure.
Chronic use may be linked to long-lasting, perhaps permanent, damage
to the neurons that release serotonin, which may cause consequent memory
impairment, although more research is needed to know for sure.
For more information,
call Health Enhancement Services at 753-9755. For immediate help for
a GHB or MDMA crisis, call 911 or call The University Health Service's
Acute Care Clinic (8am - 4:30pm M-F, 9am - 1pm Sat) at 753-9770; Kishwaukee
Hospital Emergency Room at 756-1521; or, DeKalb Clinic's Convenient
Care Center (8am - 8pm M-F, 8am - 6pm Sat) at 758-5061.
Written by: Amy
Franklin Havasi & Steven Lux, Interim, Co-Coordinators, Health Enhancement
Services, University Health Service.
of the information presented on this page were originally prepared by Michael
Haines and Richard Rice and are printed here with their permission.