What are Raves? My daughter says they are alcohol-free parties, but I’ve been reading a lot about Ecstasy being available at these events. Should I be concerned?

Raves are all night dance parties with loud "techno" music set up in warehouses, fields, or stadiums and are frequently advertised as alcohol-free, giving parents a false sense of security. "Club drugs", such as Ecstasy, are often readily available.

Here are some examples of physical signs that someone may have taken Ecstasy: rapid eye movement, dehydration, chills or sweating, severe anxiety and/or paranoia, trance-like state, clenching of the jaw and/or grinding of teeth.

There is certain paraphernalia associated with Ecstasy use that you can watch for. These items include candy necklaces, pacifiers, lollipops, glow sticks and/or glowing necklaces, child-like backpacks, mentholated vapor rub and surgical masks.

The first use of Ecstasy can cause seizures, brain injury or death. Ecstasy’s stimulant effects enable users to dance for long periods thereby increasing the body’s core temperature. This can lead to seizures, dehydration, heart or kidney failure, and brain damage may occur through a variety of mechanisms.

The best medical research is showing that Ecstasy is a neurotoxin and repeated use can kill the parts of the nerve cells that release the mood regulating chemical serotonin. It is not known when or if recovery occurs.

Beth Kane Davidson, M.Ed., CAC, Director, Addiction Treatment Center, Suburban Hospital (MD)