- The Washington Times - Friday, May 24, 2002

The Drug Enforcement Administration has formed a partnership with the National Foundation of Women Legislators to increase nationwide awareness of the dangers of club drugs such as Ecstasy, DEA chief Asa Hutchinson said yesterday.

Mr. Hutchinson, during a Capitol Hill press conference, said the agency's "Club Drug Awareness Campaign" was especially crucial because Ecstasy abuse in the country is soaring, and the drug's use among teen-agers had nearly doubled during the past four years.

The Capitol Hill conference was attended by National Foundation of Women Legislators' President Robin Read Brunelli as part of a weeklong meeting of the International Leadership Conference, sponsored by The Washington Times Foundation.

Mr. Hutchinson, a former Arkansas congressman, said some experts believe the number of teen-age abusers could double again in another five years largely driven by the inaccurate perception that Ecstasy is a harmless drug.

"This is a relatively new drug. Parents just don't know what exactly Ecstasy is and how dangerous it is," Mr. Hutchinson said, adding that many parents are unaware of club drugs or about the "raves" where they are often abused.

"Raves are promoted as drug- and alcohol-free events, and many parents mistakenly believe that they are safe," he said. "Part of our job at the DEA is to help people understand that Ecstasy and other drugs are most often abused at raves, and that these drugs are very dangerous, possibly fatal."

Ecstasy is the popular name for the stimulant methyldiocymethamphetamine (MDMA), which is used by young people at rock concerts and all-night club parties knows as raves. It suppresses the need to eat, drink or sleep and can cause unconsciousness, seizures from heatstrokes, heart failure, brain damage and death.

Mr. Hutchinson said the partnership with the National Foundation of Women Legislators will bring DEA agents and women legislators from across the nation "shoulder to shoulder" in a common cause: educating the American public about the dangers of club drugs.

"We want to combine DEA's knowledge about these drugs with the legislators' commitment to taking that message to the country," he said.

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