Chemical Burns

UF student Nadia* swore that for her, Ecstasy was not an escape. It was a reality enhancer.

"It's skin deep," she said from behind her brown hair, lip ring and lit cigarette, "and then it's like soul deep, at the same time."

Nadia's memories of Ecstasy play out through her stories like a filmstrip: summer night dancing on multicolored pills, or "Skittles"1; drawing on friends with highlighters and dancing in the black light; dollar-store glow sticks and the floating neon swirls.

Ecstasy gives a euphoric experience, she said, and she's always wanted more.

photo by Nicole Safker

"Not in that, 'Ah, I have to have more of it,' you know," she corrected. "It was sort of like, 'That was so much fun.' I felt nostalgic for the experience, you know. I had a great time with great friends, and I wanted to have that again."

However, Nadia's scrapbook of drug memories, most of which took place in Gainesville, doesn't fail to depict less-than-euphoric times, too: having to chew on straws to stop from clenching her teeth, an E side effect; a drug-addled freak-out in which she didn't feel she could be let go; taking four pills in a night of partying and later feeling what she called "an earthquake in her eyes."

In fact, Nadia's experiences had a dangerous beginning. She was 17, a new UF student, when she first tried what she thought was Ecstasy.

After swallowing the pill, she felt energetic and connected. She and another user had sex for about seven hours. She couldn't sleep or eat.

Nadia later discovered that the pill she had taken was methamphetamine, an addictive and illegal stimulant.

Ecstasy pills, which are cut and pressed in unregulated underground labs, come with no guarantee.

Some drug dealers mix the active Ecstasy component, MDMA, with cheaper ingredients like talc, lactose or caffeine in order to increase profits.

Others have mixed the pills with drugs that can be found cheaper than E but could be dangerous, like methamphetamine, DXM, ketamine and PCP.


* Source's name has been changed.

1 See "Skittles" in the glossary.