Suicide Tuesday

Recent research published in the medical journal The Lancet1 ranked 20 drugs based on the danger they bring users, their potential for addiction and the drug's impact on society.

Ecstasy was ranked 18th.

photo by Nicole Safker

Though Doering, the UF pharmacy professor, said he thinks the study is oversimplified, he added that there are few direct dangers associated with Ecstasy.

"That's what makes it a hard sell when you try to encourage people not to use," he said.

Nevertheless, Ecstasy is far from a life-changing miracle drug. Like with any pill, E has several dangerous side effects and a history of involvement with overdoses and deaths.

"I've always said, 'When God created drugs, he tied strings to them,'" Doering said. "If it weren't for the fact that Ecstasy had long-term neurological problems, it'd make a tremendous antidepressant."

Throughout the years, Ecstasy has been present in nationwide deaths from dehydration, overhydration, mixing drugs and overdoses.

Though rarely the sole cause of death, Ecstasy can cause users to lose sleep, lose their appetite, have higher blood pressure and grind their teeth.

For some users, though, the biggest danger of Ecstasy use can come from the drug's most appealing quality - its release of the "feel-good chemical" serotonin.

The time after the pill's effects have worn off, known as the "crash," has been described by some as not being worth the high.

During a crash, the brain responds to a flooding of serotonin with a drought, meaning depression, anxiety and paranoia.

However, the crash, also called "Black Tuesday" or "Suicide Tuesday," is rare for some users.

"(I) never felt depression," Dennis said. "I felt pissed that I had to be back to the real world."

Doering said there's also the possibility that Ecstasy abuse could lead to permanent brain damage.

"There's going to be a point in time where you've just completely used up all the serotonin that's there," he said. "And if the serotonin factory is damaged, like researchers say that it's damaged, then you're out of luck. Because you may remain in that Black Tuesday forever."

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1 The Lancet, "Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse' (free registration required).

CNN report on Lancet study.