Ecstasy use increases in Utah County

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    By Stephanie Richards

    Ecstasy is a passion drug that titillates the senses and is ensnaring an increasing number of Utah County”s youths.

    And it is even finding its way into the community.

    Ecstasy is becoming increasingly popular in Utah County, said Lt. Kenneth Van Wagoner, Wasatch County sheriff”s department detective division.

    Lt. Steve Clark, director of Utah County major crimes task force, attributes this increase of ecstasy use to the lack of knowledge about its harmful effects.

    In Utah County, young people have been taught not to smoke or drink, Clark said.

    Parents just forget to mention pills, like ecstasy.

    “We have become a pill-popping society,” Clark said. “We take pills to lose weight and for medicine.”

    Now there is a pill for a euphoric high, Clark said.

    Youths believe taking a pill is perfectly safe because that is the environment they have grown up in, Clark said.

    “Drugs go in fads,” Van Wagoner said. “They seem to cycle.”

    Utah County first saw a lot of marijuana. Then cocaine became the fad, Van Wagoner said.

    Cocaine use was followed by crack, and then officials started seeing a large amount of methamphetamine drugs. Now there is a lot of date rape drug use and ecstasy, Van Wagoner said.

    “Meth is still one of the most popular drugs because it is cheap and it gives a longer high,” Van Wagoner said.

    The high from methamphetamine drugs can last as long as eight to 24 hours, as compared to the 20-minute high people experience with crack, Van Wagoner said.

    Utah is one of the highest states for methamphetamine labs because of the vast amount of open space to hide the labs, Van Wagoner said.

    Enforcement of methamphetamine drugs is not as strong in rural areas as on the Wasatch front, Clark said.

    Methamphetamine labs have been busted this year across the state, including Orem, Spanish Fork, Lehi, and West Valley City.

    “We are generally more na?ve here,” Van Wagoner said.

    Though the number of methamphetamine labs has decreased in Utah, the number of methamphetamine users is increasing in the Utah County area, Clark said.

    An annual report released at the beginning of the year by the Utah Division of Substance reveals that Utah County is receiving more methamphetamine abusers in treatment than any other county in the state except Salt Lake County.

    Increased methamphetamine use brings other unwanted side effects into the Provo and Orem areas.

    Car burglaries have increased dramatically because methamphetamine users are using the income from stolen goods to support their habits, said Ct. Brad Leathem of the Provo City detective department.

    Thefts for over the counter medication are also prevalent.

    “We always see plenty of over-the-counter abuse,” Clark said.

    People are generally taking Percodan, Percocet, Valium, and Xanax to go to raves to get the highs, Van Wagoner said.

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