Two recent studies highlighted by Science Daily prove that drug overdose deaths increase when the weather rises above seventy-five degrees. With the temperature climbing in many states it is imperative that law enforcement, health officials, and parents recognize this threat to the enormous amount of drug users in our country and take steps to educate them of the possible threat. Almost half of the US population knows someone with a drug problem which is not surprising considering over twelve million Americans take illegal drugs on a regular basis.
Science Daily cited three years of “Preclinical research undertaken by Pharmacology PhD student Emily Jaehne [which] shows that ecstasy deaths, which are invariably related to elevated body temperature, may be related to drug users’ failure to recognise their body is abnormally hot.” Jaehne states that, “The fact that these drugs are often taken in warm nightclubs and at rave parties increases the risk of long- term changes in brain function, or even death. Our bodies usually maintain a constant temperature of 37 degrees Celsius, but in some cases ecstasy can elevate this by up to five degrees, leading to severe brain damage.”
Ecstasy, or MDMA, is a synthetic drug that is both a hallucinogen and a stimulant. It “produces feelings of increased energy, euphoria, emotional warmth, and distortions in time, perception, and tactile experiences” for the user. Taken in capsule form, ecstasy is often combined with other illegal drugs and alcohol to increase the “high”. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Research in animals indicates that MDMA can be harmful to the brain—one study in nonhuman primates showed that exposure to MDMA for only 4 days caused damage to serotonin nerve terminals that was still evident 6 to 7 years later.1 Although similar neurotoxicity has not been shown definitively in humans, the wealth of animal research indicating MDMA’s damaging properties strongly suggests that MDMA is not a safe drug for human consumption. This is currently an area of active research.”
Because of these health concerns, the United Nations has criminalized manufacturing, possession, and sale of ecstasy. Despite this illegal status, in 2008 approximately 894,000 individuals tried ecstasy for the first time according to NIDA. This growing number of Americans must be informed of the serious health risks ecstasy brings especially in warmer weather.