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Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

Viagra Meets the Rave Scene

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Still, there's little doubt those positive vibes emanating from some of these dance parties have something to do with drugs -- in particular ecstasy, also known as MDMA. Roinick, who admits to being an occasional ecstasy user, says there's a good reason young people are attracted to the drug: "It just makes you feel really, really happy."

But there's little that's happy about the ultimate effects of ecstasy, one expert says -- and, although it's not entirely clear what happens when people take it along with Viagra, the results of mixing Viagra and poppers are definitely grim.

Ecstasy "is a bad, bad, bad drug, no matter what you read" says Wilkie Wilson, PhD, professor of pharmacology at Duke University Medical Center in Chapel Hill, N.C., and co-author of Buzzed: The straight facts about the Most Used and Abused Drugs. The drug, Wilson says, may very well have a long-term effect on mood. "What happens is, as we age, we lose serotonin function. So if you're kicking off a bunch of it when you're young, the end result is depression."

Roinick says the common "cure" for ravers who feel depressed after taking the drug is to lay off ecstasy for a couple of weeks to give the brain time to recover. But Wilson says some studies have shown there is no such thing as recovery from ecstasy -- and further, that the drug can dangerously increase both body temperature and blood pressure.

Viagra, on the other hand, can cause a decrease in blood pressure, and Wilson says he can't say whether combining the two drugs is necessarily dangerous. But psychiatrist Marshall Forstein, MD, medical director of Mental Health and Addiction Services at Boston's Fenway Community Health Center, warns that it's a bad idea.

"A lot of the ecstasy is not pure," he says. "It's a mix of different amphetamine salts. But even so, ecstasy affects the liver metabolism of Viagra ... they inhibit enzymes which metabolize each other." That can cause a potentially dangerous rise in blood levels of each drug. " He also says there have been reports of strokes in people who take the two drugs together.

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