It Leads Some People To Euphoria

To some, it is a miracle drug that allows them to open their minds. To others, it is an addictive killer that must be stopped.

Ecstasy, or MDMA, the drug referred to as "happiness in a pill," had been primarily taken at urban rave parties starting in the early 1980s. But its popularity today extends beyond the underground dance scene. A recent report by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America found ecstasy use has doubled among teens since 1995 and one in 10 teens has experimented with the drug.

Enthusiasts of the drug say ecstasy replaces anxiety with pleasure, that it acts like an anti-depressant. Adversaries believe, however, the drug is addictive and can cause brain damage.

In a cooperative project with MTV, 48 Hours examines why this drug is increasing in popularity among adolescents. It also reports on how the federal government views the problem as states toughen laws against dealing ecstasy.

Thursday, July 26, 10 p.m. ET/PT

Perfect Little Girl: Katie Stephenson was a beautiful, athletic overachiever. But at age 14, she tried Ecstasy, assuming it was harmless fun. She tells Correspondent Peter Van Sant how ecstasy became her gateway drug to heroin and cocaine.

Alternative Therapy: Sue Stevens believes ecstasy helped her and her terminally ill fiancé cope with his illness. After his death, she wants to use the drug again to find closure to their relationship.

Party Drug, Fatal Drug: Shari Rich was on an academic scholarship in central Florida, but when she took a pill she thought was Ecstasy, her body temperature soared and she died. Rich is the sixth death in two months in Florida attributed to adulterated Ecstasy. Authorities fear they were part of a bad-dose epidemic.

No Room For Mistakes: Ari Jackson is an honor student and community volunteer. But after getting busted in Tallahassee for allegedly dealing Ecstasy, he could face a minimum othree years in prison under new and tougher Florida laws.

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