Senior Research Paper

Senior Paper   

By Joseph Esquibel

 “Just say NO!”    -Nancy Reagan on the War on Drugs

“Drug use has taught an entire generation of American kids the metric system”     -P.J. Hardwick

“Did you know America ranks lowest in education but highest in drug use? It’s nice to be number one, but we can fix that, all we need to do is start a war on education. If it’s anywhere near as successful as our war on drugs in no time we’ll all be hooked on phonics”    -Leighann Lord

An estimated 12.8 million Americans aged 12 and older use illegal drugs on a current basis. Almost ¾ of drug users are employed. Approximately 45% of Americans know someone with a substance abuse problem. From 2009-2010 the use of ecstasy among adolescents (8th-12th Grade) has risen from 2.2% to 3.3%

In this paper I am going to help educate the reader on three major illegal drugs undermining American society. These drugs are MDMA (Ecstasy), Methamphetamine/amphetamine, and Cocaine. I am going to research the history of them, how and where they are produced, how they work in the body, how they effect you, and how likely it is to become addicted.

MDMA (Ecstasy)

The German chemical company Merck patented MDMA in 1913, supposedly to be sold as a diet pill. The company decided against marketing the drug and now has nothing to do with it. There was a myth that it was used in the US Army for testing as a possible truth serum, but there is no real evidence supporting this. The man responsible for modern research of MDMA is Alexander Shulgin. He graduated from the University of California with a PH.D in biochemistry. He is the first reported user of MDMA. Since MDMA had already been patented he couldn’t get any profit. Only few experimental therapists researched and tested the drug between 1977 to 1985 for use during psychotherapy sessions. In 1985 MDMA/Ecstasy received massive media attention when a group of people sued the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to try and prevent them from outlawing the drug. Congress passed a new law allowing the DEA to put an emergency ban on any drug that might be dangerous to the public. On July 1st 1985, this right was used for the first time to ban MDMA. Research on human volunteers happened in 1993 with the approval of the FDA. MDMA is now commonly called ecstasy and being used by college students and young adults in large numbers. Ecstasy is produced in someone’s house using a combination of chemicals, which is then put into a pill press. People sometimes put a tiny picture on the pill as a signature to know who made it and where it’s from. When consuming MDMA what you feel is very unpredictable and varies between people. It takes about 30-60 minutes to feel any effect of the drug. It takes about 1-1.5 hours to peak (the point when you are the highest) then you reach the plateau that lasts about 2-3 hours. Then followed by the comedown. Some effects of ecstasy are

·      A Strong Sense of Inner Peace and Self Acceptance

·      Diminished Aggression, Hostility, and Jealousy

·      Diminished Fear, Anxiety, and Insecurity

·      Extreme Mood Lift With Accompanying Euphoria

·      Feelings of Empathy, Compassion, And Forgiveness Towards Others

·      Feelings of Intimacy or Even Love For Others

·      Improved Self-Confidence

·      An Intensification of All Senses (Sound, Touch, Smell, Vision, and Hearing

·      Substantial Enhancement of The Appreation For Quality of Music

·      Mild Mental Imagery, Auditory, and Visual Distortions

·      Stimulation, Arousal, And Hyperactivity. EX, people get the urge to dance

·      Increased Energy and Endurance

·      Increased Alertness and Wake fullness

·      Increased Desire, Drive, And Motivation

·      Higher Pain Tolerance

·      Grinding Teeth

Psychological Effects Once MDMA Has Worn Off

·      Anxiety

·      Paranoia

·      Depression

·      Irritability

·      Impaired Attention, Focus, And Concentration (Due To Low Serotonin Levels)

Physiological Effects

·      Dizziness, Lightheadedness, And Vertigo

·      Loss of Appetite

·      Gastrointestinal Disturbances Such As Diarrhea or Constipation

·      Insomnia

·      Aches and Pains Usually From Excessive Physical Activity

·      Exhaustion

·      Jaw Soreness From Grinding Teeth

For some people MDMA can be addictive. A survey of young adults and adolescents MDMA users found that 43% met the criteria for dependence on the drug and 34% met the criteria for drug abuse. Almost 60% of people who use MDMA report withdrawal symptoms including fatigue, loss of appitite, depression, and trouble concentrating


Amphetamine was first synthesized in Germany in 1887. Nothing was really done with the drug until the late 1920’s when it was investigated as a cure or treatment for nearly anything from depression to decongestion. In the 1930’s Amphetamine was marketed as Benzedrine in an over the counter inhaler to treat nasal congestion. By 1937 Amphetamine was available by prescription in tablet form. Methamphetamine was more potent and easier to make. It was discovered in Japan in 1919. The powder was easily dissolved in water making it easy to inject in the body. During World War II Amphetamines were used to keep soldiers going. American soldiers used more Amphetamines then the world did during World War II. In Japan meth abuse reached epidemic proportions immediately after World War II, when supplies for military use became available to the public. In the late 1950’s the United States legally manufactured tablets of both Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine) and Methamphetamine (Methedrine) and they became easily available and were used by college students, truck drivers, and athletes. Amphetamines became a cure all for such things as weight control and mild depression. In the 1960’s the availability of inject able methamphetamine increased. The 1970’s Controlled Substance Act restricted the legal production of injectable methamphetamine causing it to greatly decrease. Methamphetamine is now illegal and there is still a huge problem with it. There is now a purer form of meth, which is called Crystal Meth. Crystal Meth has fewer chemicals and gets the user higher the normal Methamphetamines, Methamphetamine is usually produced in a “Meth Lab” using a mysterious mix of house hold cleaning supply’s and other stuff like paint thinner and lighter fluid. When making meth the person who is making it needs to make sure to keep the room at the same temperature, if not, the slightest change could cause a meth lab explosion causing 3rd degree burns or worse even death. Methamphetamines can be taken in several different ways; it can be smoked, snorted, injected, orally, and rectaly. The preferred method now is injecting it or smoke it.

Effects of Methamphetamines:

·      Hyperactivity

·      Blurred Vision

·      Numbness

·      Euphoria

·      Increased Alertness

·      Increased Concentration

·      Increased Energy

·      Increased Self-Esteem

·      Increased Sociability

·      Hallucinations

·      Excessive Feelings of Power and Invincibility

·      Dilated Pupils

·      Dry Mouth

Harmful Effects of Methamphetamines

·    Anorexia

·  Flushing

·  Restlessness

·  Headache

·  Grinding of Teeth

·  Hypertension

·  Hyperthermia

·  Diarrhea

·  Constipation

·  Dizziness

·  Twitching

·  Insomnia

·  Tremors

·  Dry/Itchy Skin

·  Acne

·  Loss Of Teeth From Grinding

·  Increased Irrability

·  Increased Aggression

With Chronic and High Doses

·      Convulsions

·      Heart Attack

·      Death

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive substance 98% of first time users becomes addicted and dependent on methamphetamine.


Cocaine comes from the coca plant, which is native to the high mountain ranges of South America. The coca leaves were used by the natives of this region and acted as a stimulant. One effects of the drug is to increase breathing which increases oxygen intake. This helped workers to work in thin air at high altitudes. The first recognized authority and advocate for this drug was the famous psychologist, Sigmud Freud. Early in his career he promoted cocaine as a safe a useful tonic that could cure depression and sexual impotence. Cocaine got a further boost in acceptability when in 1886 John Pemberton included cocaine as the main ingredient in his new soft drink, Coca Cola. It was cocaine’s euphoric and energizing effect on the consumer that was mostly responsible for skyrocketing Coca Cola into its place as the most popular soft drink in history. From the 1850’s to the early 1900’s cocaine and opium laced elixirs, tonics, and wines were broadly used by people of all social classes. Other famous people that promoted the “Miraculous” effects of cocaine elixirs were Thomas Edison and actress Sarah Bernhart. Because there were no restrictions placed on acquiring these drugs in the early 1900’s narcotics was an acceptable way of life for a number of people, many of them were people of high-ranking social status. Cocaine was a very important part of the silent film industry. The pro-drug messages coming out of Hollywood at the time were receiving international attention, which influenced the attitudes of millions of people about cocaine. During this time cocaine began to be used as an active ingredient in a variety of, “Cure All” tonics and beverages. In many of the tonics that drug companies were producing at this time, cocaine would be mixed with opiates and given out freely to young and old. Over the course of the next several years the American majority became more and more aware of the dangers of cocaine. This problem more apparent, concern mounted to an eventual public outcry to ban the social use of cocaine. This forced Pemberton to remove cocaine for Coca Cola in 1903. Eventually the public pressure became so great as to place a national prohibition on cocaine. In 1920 cocaine was added to the list of narcotics to be outlawed by, The Dangerous Drug Act of 1920. Crack Cocaine is the most popularly used version of cocaine today. Smoking rocks began in the late 1970’s. Rocking-up cocaine powder and smoking it was originally the method developed so distributors of cocaine could test the purity of the drug before it was purchased from the manufacturers. Crack has destroyed millions of lives since it was first introduced to the streets of America. Cocaine has been part of our history and culture for nearly 150 years. Cocaine is usually made in countries such as Columbia. They get the coca leaves and extract the liquid from them. Then the liquid is turned into a solid rock, packaged up and sent here illegally for recreational use. Cocaine is a powerful nervous system stimulant. Its effects can last from 15-30 minutes to an hour depending on method of ingestion

Effects of Cocaine

·      Increased Alertness

·      Feelings of Well Being

·      Euphoria

·      Increased Energy

·      Increased Motor Activity

·      Feelings of Competence and Sexuality

·      Some Enhanced Athletic Performance

Side Effects of Cocaine

·      Anxiety

·      Restlessness

·      Tremors

·      Convulsions

·      Increased Body Temperature

Cocaine is a highly addictive drug more then 2 million people in the United Stated are addicted or dependent on cocaine.

“Anyway no drug not even alcohol causes the fundamental ill of society. If we’re looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn’t test people for drugs we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed, and the love of power”

                                    -P.J. O Rourke

I don’t know what the future holds for the use and abuse of MDMA, Methamphetamines/Amphetamines, and Cocaine but it’s a battle that has been fought for a long time. 30 years ago President Nixon declared the war on drugs and today we’re not even close to victory. In 2008 The World Health Organization did a survey of legal and illegal drug use in the world and the survey showed that the U.S. has the highest lever of illegal drug use in the world. Americans also reports the highest use of cocaine and marijuana.

    If people just come to terms that people use drugs, the we wouldn’t need the war on drugs any more. If we legalized drugs many good things would happen. We would get control of the production, distribution, and sale of the drug. We would also be able guarantee purity. If passing hundreds of drug laws, spending billions of dollars enforcing them and pitting millions of drug users in prison hasn’t put a dent in illegal drug use, isn’t it time to look at in new way?