After peaking in popularity in 2001, the drug Ecstasy isn’t so cool anymore, says USA Today. Tighter airport security since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has reduced the flow of the drug into the U.S. from suppliers in the Netherlands and Belgium. Federally funded anti-drug campaigns have produced poignant TV spots warning that Ecstasy users risk brain damage or death. Last year, nearly 60 percent of high school seniors said they believed that taking Ecstasy just once or twice could harm them, up from about 34 percent in 1997, says an annual survey of teen drug use by the University of Michigan.
The bad news, says Michigan’s Lloyd Johnston, is that some teens appear to have moved on to drugs that are less expensive, more available and potentially just as dangerous. The use of highly addictive prescription painkillers such as OxyContin and Vicodin has jumped since 2000, and both drugs have become more popular than Ecstasy among high school seniors, says the Michigan study. Some Internet pharmacies allow any teen with a credit card to order narcotics without a prescription. “I find the absolute levels – one in every 20 (seniors having tried OxyContin) – disturbing,” Johnston says. “If I told you that 5 percent were using heroin, I think you’d go screaming into the night.” The actual heroin figure is nearly 1 percent.