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Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Teens, Preteens, & Young Adults > Raves & Ecstacy
I would like advice and information from other parents regarding their
children's interest in or attendance of raves and/or using the drug ecstasy.
My 17 year old just began talking about the drug and wanted to know if I
would let him attend a rave. Has anyone had experience with this situation?
I am not even sure how to spell it properly ... but I do need info and feedback from parents on "raves". My daughter seems to be so attracted by them, and wishes to attend one session. She is sixteen. We refuse to believe this is acceptable ... She does not understand why we are reacting that way. Thank you for our opinions.
Hello. We are the parents of a junior daughter at BHS. She is a hard working student. No problem there. We have concerns about the raves she always wants to attend with her friends. She says she likes to go for the music and the dancing. We discussed our concerns and the risks (ecstasy, sex, etc), but she seems to say that she is not interested in that. However, why do these 16 year olds have to be out all night at a party of any kind? She complains when we ask her to come home before 6:00 am on Sunday ... Other parents we have talked to say they prefer their kids not to lie, so their teenagers tell them they are going to the rave. Parents feel better because they know the truth. Those parents seem to have lost control over their children. What should we do? We are wondering what percentage of Juniors attend raves on a regular basis? Do public authorities know of this kind of parties and allow them? Thank you so much for any advice you may give us.
I do not think this drug is evil, and I am upset that it is a Schedule I drug. I think it has a valuable place in therapy (where it was used in controlled circumstances for some years), and I would prefer to see it legalized for such controlled use. Periodic use of it has probably saved my marriage. It can be a valuable tool, used with care and respect.
That said, I also feel very strongly that its use at Raves by teens is *entirely inappropriate*. This is a strong psychoactive drug. Used in sufficient quantity to achieve the "threshold effect", it will cause the decrease of one's fears, and an increase in the feelings of relatedness between people who are on it. I have heard it described as "opening the heart chakra"--creating a feeling of love for everyone and everything. This is GREAT in the right context, and dangerous among a group of strangers with no understanding of their own boundaries. It can create a false sense of relatedness, which could lead to kids having sex before they are otherwise ready, under circumstances which do not foster safer sex practices, to say the least (although the likelihood of pregnancy is reduced, since it also causes an inability to orgasm in most people). Additionally, it is related to speed, and therefore could have other heath risks as well, especially to people with heart conditions.
One reassuring thing to note is that it is very difficult to become physically addicted to this drug, due to the way it works. It causes a large release of Serotonin in the brain. This is the brain chemical that makes one feel "good." Once that supply has been released, it must be built up again, which takes several days at least. Therefore, you can't take the drug again and again in a short period of time--it simply won't work. The depletion of this chemical is another of the downsides to this drug, however, in that it will leave some people feeling "fragile", "down," or "blue" for several days after the drug wears off. Most teens simply don't have the life experience to know how to cope with something like this, and it could be extremely dangerous to someone who is already depressed or suicidal.
Another danger: My daughter, who attends a Bay Area High School (and has never done this drug, BTW), tells me that none of her friends have ever seen "pure" uncut Ecstasy (or "E" as they call it now)--one of her friends went so far as to say that she thought it was just something that you added to other drugs! Most often it would be cut with Speed, cocaine, or more recently, heroin (!). These are all *highly* addictive, and in my opinion, far more dangerous drugs. One never knows what one is getting on the street.
One book on the drug that I have found informative is "Ecstasy: The MDMA Story" by Bruce Eisner. It's available at Amazon. This book gives some history and context about the drug that is not the unilaterally negative account available from the mainstream press. Amazon also has more books listed that give other accounts (both the traditional negative accounts, and some they claim are more balanced). I just haven't done any reading in this area for a while, so I can't comment on these more recent books.
Regarding Raves themselves: I have only been once--it bored me silly. But my sister is a (legal) promoter and vendor (selling glow in the dark toys, CDs of the bands, etc) in the Rave scene on the east coast (she's in her late 20's). So again, I have some pretty good information. Raves are usually *underground* parties for a reason. I have never heard of one that didn't have drugs easily available at it. Mostly, kids will dance all night, taking various legal and illegal drugs ("smart drugs" are very popular here as well) to enhance their experience. Some kids don't do drugs, but you should never assume that there won't be any there.
In short, I don't think Raves are a good place for most teens to go. Unless your child is unusually self-possesed and sure of their own boundaries and values, I wouldn't recommend allowing them to go. This, of course, assumes that you have any say in the matter at all. Forbidding your child is usually the surest way to get them to do something, after all!
Good luck with this very sensitive and difficult subject. I hope you and
your teen can partner to make some good decisions that you both feel good
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