“Sextacy” Points to Broader Problem of Street Drug Formulations

Heavily-marketed prescription drugs to treat sexual dysfunction are becoming part of dangerous street-drug combinations, such as Viagra and Ecstasy, to form a drug nicknamed “sextacy.” This trend, among others, points to increasing overall abuse of prescription drugs – and that even the most unlikely of medications can see street circulation. It also reflects a growing trend for extreme sexual “highs” or heightened experiences as Cialis, Viagra and similar medications are paired with other street drugs. Law enforcement officials say Viagra and Ecstasy are part of people’s desire to experiment with almost any drug substance, but that many who try these combinations are unaware of the serious health risks. Viagra, or sildenafil, gives a person the ability to remain sexually engaged for longer periods of time, while the Ecstasy may escalate a person’s sensory response. Drug experts also believe some drug abusers who might typically seek prescription painkillers, like Vicodin or OxyContin, may begin searching for erectile dysfunction medications that are easier to acquire. Additional concern surrounds drug combinations like sextacy because it may encourage people to experiment further with non-prescription and recreational use of medications. Viagra and Cialis have been linked with side effects including headache, nosebleeds, sleep disturbances and vision changes. More serious side effects reported include chest pain, difficulty breathing and fainting. Any of these side effects, or others, can cause a dangerous reaction when taken inappropriately or mixed with other drugs. Ecstasy has stimulant and hallucinogenic properties, and is a synthetic street drug. It is commonly used for all-night dance parties and may give the user a false sense of energy or confidence. Side effects can be very serious, including blurred vision and dangerous escalations in blood pressure and heart rate. Some Ecstasy users have had seizures or become severely dehydrated or suffer a heatstroke due to dancing for long periods without stopping. Among people who have died while using Ecstasy, cardiovascular failure has been reported. While users who mix Viagra and Ecstasy may expect to have a heightened sexual experience, Ecstasy itself can produce the opposite effect. While it may increase skin sensations, it also can make a male erection difficult or impossible and can prevent both partners from reaching orgasm. Use of sextacy is also believed to lower inhibitions and lead to unprotected sex and other risk-taking behaviors, putting the users at risk for sexually transmitted diseases. Viagra and Ecstasy are also abused on college campuses, with some college-aged men believing Viagra may heighten their sexual experience. For a healthy young male, Viagra will have little or no effect – but could be deadly when combined with other drugs. Abusing Viagra can also open the door to the abuse of other prescription drugs, and has been a concern among experts toward young people since the drug entered the market. When combined with street drugs like Ecstasy, the purity of the drugs is also a concern, with street combinations that could contain unknown substances and unregulated dosages. Young people may also assume that medications for erectile dysfunction are actually party drugs, leading to serious health consequences or death. As law enforcement officials continue to battle street drugs, stricter regulations on a variety of prescription drugs may be needed to counteract abuse of new and bizarre combinations of drugs – and save lives from potentially deadly side effects.

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