Raves & Ecstacy

Archived Q&A and Reviews

March 2000

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?

April 2000

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.

Nov 2000

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 also have a daughter who is a junior. She does not attend raves, she doesn't appear to have a strong interest in that. I do agree that many parents have seemed to have lost control with their teens (we could certainly be counted amongst them often). I feel the permissive atmosphere is not helpful for teens who are desparately trying to figure out how independent they are ready to be while they are sorting out safe and appropriate boundaries for themselves. Some failing or natural consequences for their mistakes is critical for growth but some mistakes can alter their lives and really jeapardize their future.It's hard to know where the line is sometimes. I think it is important for teens to know what their parents' values are and to draw the line when it is being crossed. I think sometimes our teens depend on us to help them out of tricky sociual situations and appreciate the excuse that their parents won't allow them to participate. I don't beleive that honesty makes everything ok. Some things are just not appropriate for a particular child, family or situation. Anon.

Re: letting son attend a rave
Are you out of your mind? If you want to see a Rave Check out the movie GO! I'm told that such parties involve sex and drugs and loud music. I Wouldn't let my teens anywhere near one.

Let me begin by saying that I am probaby an atypical parent in this forum. I have direct personal experience with this drug, enough times to know what I am talking about with regard to my own experience. I have also done a great deal of reading on the subject, and I have a scientific background (including organic chemistry, for instance) allowing me to fully comprehend what I read.

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 about.
-- Anonymous

A note to Annonymous re Raves:
My daughter, who is now a college freshman, went through a rave/ecstasy phase when she was a junior at B High. We were not at all enthusiastic about it, but did end up letting her go a few times- and of course urged her not to try any substances. What we said which i think made an impression was that there was no way for her to know what she was getting and it was extremely risky to put stuff in your system especially if you don't have a clue what it is or what it can do to you. I think that she was more curious about the rave experience itself rather than the drug, and while she and her friends did go to a few raves, she actually lost interest rather quickly. I guess I was not that worried because her judgement was pretty good by the time the rave question arose- now, if she had been a 9th grader, I would have felt very differently!! From what I gather, the official raves are very well organized, they have security and it cost $$. I am not so naive to believe that she never tried ecstasy, but she is doing great now, and definitely did not become a druggie!!!
Good luck, C.

Our daughter went to raves about 6 or 8 times. We were VERY worried and vigilant. Drove them; picked them up at 6AM! The girls always came home totally exhausted with dirty pants from sitting on the floor cause there are no chairs and they get so tired. Bubble gum on seat of pants from floor transferred to car seats, etc. The excitement of seeing this world finally wore off, thank goodness. Sleeping all the next day can ruin even a teenagers plans! Anonymous