High Times

"That night I remember," said Adam*, a UF public relations student, as he described his first time taking Ecstasy. "I could write a story about that night."

Adam said it's been about five years since he "rolled1," or used Ecstasy. He can still recall, up to the minute, how he felt after swallowing the first pill.

"Thirty minutes, your legs start moving. After that, you start rocking back and forth, and you just want to move. You're swinging your arms back and forth, you're cracking your knuckles, you're stretching. Everything feels ... great," he said. "That's why it's called rolling. It's like a roller coaster. You build up, build up and then just - bam. It hits you."

photo by Nicole Safker

Adam was about 18 then, working as a lifeguard and an Applebee's bartender in a small rural town in eastern Florida. He and several friends had tried drugs before - they were easier to get than alcohol, he said. Ecstasy, however, quickly became his favorite.

"You know that point right before you have an orgasm? That point where your toes curl and you've got that tickly numb feeling?" he said. "Imagine that for two hours."

After taking Ecstasy, he and his buddies liked to drop the tailgate on his truck, pile in and drive slowly on the dirt roads near his home. As they rolled, they talked, chewed gum and swigged Gatorade.

Adam described the morning-after feeling as "ate up2." He'd feel tired but unable to get to sleep. He'd be mopey but alert. His fingers would be yellow from the packs of cigarettes he had smoked3.

Still, he said, the feeling was worth it.

Every couple weeks or so, the friends would buy some pills for about $15 each and roll on a weekend night.

Over time, the group expanded. They attended parties where everyone was rolling. They upped their dose to chase the high.

In one day, he and 40 friends spent about $1,200 on pills - enough for 11 pills for each person. The group took a hit of Ecstasy each hour.

After three years of using, however, he met his wife and stopped taking Ecstasy. For him, there was no crash and no withdrawal. He only took the drug when he felt bored, he said, and she took the boredom away.

Over the three years, he estimated he took about 200 pills. The total cost, he guessed, would have been more than $5,000.

"It was a fun time, don't get me wrong," he said. "I don't regret any of it."


* Source's name has been changed.

1 See "rolling" in the glossary.

2 See "ate up" in the glossary.

3 Read more about the feelings after an Ecstasy high in "Suicide Tuesday".