SANTA CLARA COUNTY (CBS SF) – Santa Clara County health officials are taking steps to curb the rising use of Ecstasy among high school students.

As many as a quarter of students in the county admitted to taking Ecstasy at least once in a recent study conducted by the Santa Clara County Health Department.

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KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:

Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Martin Fenstersheib said the numbers have forced officials to come up with a countywide initiative to educate teens about the short and long term damage that can be caused by taking the drug.

“Increased heart rate, hallucinations, anxiety. You get this feeling of euphoria, then maybe bad feelings as well as good feelings,” said Fenstersheib. “In the long term, you may get permanent brain damage as well.”

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Stephen Betts with the Santa Clara County Department of Alcohol and Drug Services said this has become a public health emergency.

“It used to be identified as a club drug used by younger people who were in the party scene,” said Betts. “But recently, kids have been using it as a recreational drug. And what we learned is that there were a lot of misperceptions out there. Many youth thought this was a new, illegal drug and relatively harmless.”

There were five Ecstasy-related deaths in Santa Clara County last year.

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