More so than with many other drugs, when you buy MDMA, you’re rarely getting what you pay for.
Drugs are dangerous enough when we know exactly what’s in them, but what if the pills you’re buying aren’t what you think they are? Street drugs don’t come with a guarantee, and those manufacturing them have plenty of incentive to cut their expensive illegal substances with cheaper ingredients – despite the health risks these fillers may pose.
A Dallas rave club, Afterlife, was shut down recently after officials claimed drugs were being sold freely inside. During the hearing to determine if the club’s license would be permanently revoked, police officers testified about going undercover to buy Ecstasy (aka MDMA) inside the nightclub. One officer called the club “an open-air, free-for-all drug-trading den,” according to The Dallas Observer.
While the club owner flatly denied allegations that he'd knowingly allowed drugs to be sold at the club, officers talked about easily scoring a variety of pills in the club. These varieties of Ecstasy were later found to contain an assortment of additional substances as well. One pill, marketed to the undercover officer as “Molly,” was supposed to be pure MDMA, but when it was analyzed, it contained a substance the officer couldn’t identify.
The Dallas Observer found a local chemist, willing to speak on the condition of anonymity, who shed some light on the issue. According to the chemist, “the only thing that's predictable about Ecstasy, really, is how unpredictable it is.” The percentage of actual MDMA found in each pill varies wildly. While it’s all sold as Ecstasy, those who indulge have no idea what they’re really putting in their mouths.
That’s the common with all drugs, though, isn’t it? Not exactly. That same chemist said that “compared to meth and cocaine, the purity of ecstasy is very low,” adding, “the pills we get are generally 5 to 10 percent pure.” (By contrast, cocaine is commonly 80-90 percent pure.) It’s even possible that something sold as Ecstasy could contain no MDMA at all.
So what exactly are those partygoers taking?
Often, it’s mixed with meth. In fact, the chemist interviewed guesses that 15 to 20 percent of Ecstasy tabs contain methamphetamine. While uncommon, some pills actually contain only meth. Ecstasy is also frequently cut with caffeine. When combined with meth, there’s a danger of overheating, even to the point of death. “The drug increases metabolism, body temperature, they're dancing at these raves, they start overheating and they literally die from that,” according to The Observer’s chemist. It's also become common to see designer drugs from Europe and Australia being sold as Ecstasy. The effects are similar, but these drugs may be cheaper or easier to make than MDMA.
Afterlife may be closed, but that’s just a drop of water in the ocean that is the problem of drug abuse.
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