English Reading Practice

Drug Education Story Number 1:
Ecstasy

1. Watch the video at the top of the page.

2. Read the story below it.

3. Do the exercises at the bottom of the page.

Here is the video. You can watch it in your own language at The Foundation for a Drug-Free World. (Simply click the word "language" at the top right corner of that page.)



Help to educate others so they know the truth about drugs. Click here for drug education tools for teachers and educators.   

Ecstasy is an illegal drug, taken especially by young people at parties, clubs, etc. It is physically and emotionally damaging and users often suffer depression, confusion, severe anxiety, and other psychological problems as a result.

Now read the story about the ecstasy drug. 


My Ecstasy Story

My name is Kendall. I have always thought of myself as a good friend, a good daughter, and generally a good person. After I finished high school, I stayed at home living with my mother and my younger brother. I worked as a waitress to help my mother pay the bills so that my younger brother could finish school. He always said I was his role model and that he wanted to be just like me when he got older.

Sometimes I felt like working full time to help with the expenses at home was too much for me, and I just wanted to forget everything and everyone. I have always been social, so when my friend Irene invited me to a rave, I decided to go with her. She explained that a rave is a big party with loud electronic music where people go to dance under bright, flashing lights and even take illegal drugs.

When we arrived, she introduced me to a guy she had met recently. His name was Matt, and he seemed very nice. He was also handsome and funny. "I have something really special to help you both have an amazing time tonight," he said with a big smile. He handed us each a small, pink pill with a little diamond on it.

I was nervous, but Irene told me the pill was called ecstasy. She said she had tried it the weekend before and had the best time of her life. "You are going to love it," she said. "You will feel so good that you will forget all about your work and daily problems and just think about what a great party this is."

She was definitely right about forgetting all about my work and daily problems. I felt amazing at the party, and I danced all night long. I was not thinking about my demanding boss or my long hours! Matt was dancing alongside us. He kept smiling at me and I felt like we really connected.

I was supposed to work the next day, but I missed my shift. I did not get home until 5:30 in the morning, and I slept all day. When I woke up, I felt sad and empty. Why did I feel so awful when I had felt so amazing at the rave? I sent Irene a message and asked her when we could take ecstasy again. She told me to meet her at the same club that night at 10:00pm.

I called my boss and told him I was sick. I was too sad and confused to go to work anyway. This time Matt gave us yellow pills with dolphins on them. Irene said she wanted two. Matt asked her for some money, so we both paid him and took our pills. We danced all night long.

After a while, the only thing I could think about was the next time I would get high on ecstasy with Irene and Matt and dance all night. I started to miss more shifts at work because I often felt depressed and just wanted to go to a rave. Even when I did go to work, I made lots of mistakes with the guests' orders. My memory became terrible! I couldn't remember what the guests wanted, and I had a really hard time with the math when I had to give them their change. My boss eventually told me that he couldn't let me work that way. He fired me! I couldn't believe it.

That just made me more depressed, and all I wanted to do was go get high with Irene and Matt. I did not even tell my mother that I had lost my job. I did not think I could handle seeing her and my little brother so disappointed in me. I was spending all of my money on ecstasy, and I was worried that I would not be able to help my mother much longer with the bills at home.

The night after my boss fired me, Irene and I decided to take seven pills each. The sad truth was that as time went on, we each needed to take more to get the same high we could get from one or two pills when we started. One of the huge problems with ecstasy is that you never know exactly what is in it. Every time you take a pill, it's a gamble, but we had no choice. We were too deep inside.

Irene got so high that night that she did not drink enough water. Her body's natural defenses were misguided by the drug. She just kept dancing. Her body became so dehydrated that she blacked out. I could not believe my eyes when I saw my best friend drop to the floor, unconscious!

I cried for help! The club manager hurried over to us. "Please help her!" I shouted.

He shook his head and started to drag Irene outside the club. "You will need to get your own help, I'm afraid."

Shocked and terrified, I searched for Matt in the crowd. There he was! "I am sure he will help us," I thought. "I know he cares…"

Matt looked at us for a long moment, and then disappeared back into the club. I couldn't believe it. We were completely on our own. No help was coming. "I can call an ambulance," I thought, "but what will I tell them?"

That was my big wake-up call. It made me realize what a disaster my life had become. I did finally call an ambulance and I spent that night at the hospital with Irene, but I couldn't give the doctors any helpful information. I was scared that I would get in trouble.

When I woke up the next day, I felt horrible. A doctor told me that my body and my mind were being damaged by the ecstasy. He told me that Irene came very close to dying and that what we were doing was terribly dangerous. I just broke down and cried. Everything seemed so dark and hopeless.

The nurses at the hospital put me in contact with a rehab (rehabilitation) center. This is a place that helps people overcome their addictions to drugs.

I felt horribly guilty for making my mother and brother go through that terrible experience. My mother had a lot of financial problems because I had lost my job, plus she needed to help pay for the cost of my rehab. I was in the program for weeks, and it was the most challenging experience of my life. I am so lucky that my family stayed by my side and helped me to overcome my addiction.

The saddest part of my story is that Irene decided not to go to rehab. She hated what her life had become, but the only way she thought she could feel good was by going to raves and taking more and more ecstasy. She started to work with Matt at the clubs, selling ecstasy to young people and getting them addicted.

Later that year, she and Matt were arrested with a large quantity of illegal drugs and were sent to prison. I cannot believe that my best friend is in jail, but I am just thankful that she did not die as a result of her addiction to ecstasy. I hope that her time in jail, where she obviously can't use any drugs, will help her overcome her addiction. I write her letters to try to encourage her even though she never writes back.

Today, my mind is still slow, and I sometimes feel depressed. My doctor says that I did permanent damage to my body, my mind, and my emotional health because of my drug abuse, but I still have hope of regaining my old self, when I was social and optimistic.

I remember that at first my mother and brother were very disappointed in me. I remember my brother crying when he visited me at rehab. But over time, they realized how hard I was working to overcome my addiction, and they are proud of me now.

I know that my brother learned from my terrible mistakes, and he will never take drugs. I am so proud of him for how hard he works. He recently graduated from high school and was accepted to a good college, and my mother and I are thrilled for him. I am working again, and I hope someday I can go to college, too. I used to be my brother's role model and inspiration, but now he is mine.



And now, practice:

Exercises

Vocabulary Questions

1. What are "drugs"? (source: Why Do People Take Drugs?)

a) Drugs are essentially poisons. The amount taken determines the effect. A small amount acts as a stimulant (speeds you up). A greater amount acts as a sedative (slows you down). An even larger amount poisons and can kill.

b) Drugs directly affect the mind. They can distort the user's perception of what is happening around him or her.

c) Drugs can lift a person into a fake kind of cheerfulness, but when the drug wears off, he or she crashes even lower than before.

d) All of the sentences above are true.


2. What does "bills" mean?

a) letters you get in the mail

b) money you pay at the store for food

c) money you pay for services like electricity, gas, and water

d) official reports from your bank


3. What does "social" mean?

a) a person who likes to eat a lot of food

b) a person who likes to spend time with other people

c) a person who likes to read

d) a person who wears beautiful clothes


4. What does "thrilled" mean?

a) very excited

b) very worried

c) very confused

d) very angry


5. What does "addiction" mean?

a) when a person cannot sleep

b) when a person is very stressed

c) when a person has difficulty understanding things

d) when a person is unable to stop using a drug


6. What does "shift" mean?

a) the amount of time it takes you to go to work

b) a report of the work you have done

c) the time during which you have to work

d) when you change your job


Expressions Questions

1. What does "wake-up call" mean?

a) something that makes you feel excited

b) something that makes you realize you have a problem

c) something new and interesting

d) something you hear from someone else


2. What does "working full time" mean?

a) when a person works seven days a week

b) when a person works alone

c) when a person works in an office

d) when a person works forty hours per week


3. What does "illegal drugs" mean?

a) mind-altering substances that are against the law

b) medicines that are very expensive

c) laws that regulate substances and medicines

d) medicines that only a doctor can recommend


4. What does "get high" mean?

a) when a person drinks a lot of alcohol

b) when a person uses a mind-altering substance to achieve a fake kind of cheerfulness

c) when a person listens to loud music

d) when a person dances all night long


5. What does "role model" mean?

a) a person who is an inspiring example for others

b) a person who is very rich

c) a person who knows a lot of people

d) a person who works as an actor or actress


6. What does "body's natural defenses" mean?

a) a person's skin

b) weapons that people use to protect themselves

c) the systems that regulate a person's body to maintain health

d) warm clothes people wear to protect themselves from the cold


Grammar Questions

1. I stayed _________ home living with my mother and my brother.

a) in

b) on

c) of

d) at


2. My brother _________ never take drugs.

a) has

b) won't

c) will

d) have


3. Matt and Irene _________ arrested with a large quantity of drugs.

a) was

b) had

c) am

d) were


4. I write her letters to try to encourage her, even _________ she never writes back.

a) though

b) when

c) if

d) despite


5. The _________ part of my story is that Irene decided not to go to rehab.

a) sadder

b) most sad

c) saddest

d) more sad


6. I was scared I _________ get in trouble.

a) would

b) will

c) do

d) can


Comprehension Questions

Read the story and watch the video at the top of the page about ecstasy. Then answer the following questions.

1. According to the video, what are three negative side effects of using ecstasy?

2. According to the video, what is especially dangerous about synthetic, or man-made, drugs like ecstasy?

3. How do the people in the video say they felt the morning after they took ecstasy?

4. In the story, why does Kendall need to work full time?

5. Why did Kendall start using ecstasy?

6. What was Kendall's big wake-up call?

Essay Questions

1. Of all the negative effects of ecstasy that are described in the video and the story, which do you think is the most serious? Why do you think so?

2. Imagine that you are with Kendall and Irene on the first night they go to the club and meet Matt. When he offers you ecstasy, what do you do? How do you react? What do you say to your friends, Kendall and Irene?

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