While Ecstasy increasingly becomes a favored drug among teens, only one percent of U.S. parents believe their child has ever tried the "club drug," according to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America's annual report.
The nonprofit group's survey of parents, released on Monday, also found that while 92 percent of parents were aware of the drug, nearly half would not recognize its effects on their kids.
Symptoms of Ecstasy use include blurred vision, rapid eye movement, chills or sweating, dehydration, confusion, faintness, severe anxiety, grinding of teeth and a trance-like state.
The problem with parental perceptions of drug use among their children was particularly significant, since teens who learn about the risk of drugs at home are less likely to experiment, said Stephen J. Pasierb, president and CEO of the partnership.
"Millions of parents sincerely don't believe that their kids are the ones experimenting with drugs like Ecstasy," Pasierb said. "It's these assumptions that enable drug use to go undetected."
The survey reported that only one in 100 parents believed their child might be experimenting with Ecstasy. An earlier Partnership study showed 12 out of every 100 teens reported trying the drug.
That same Partnership study found that teen use of Ecstasy was greater or equal to their use of cocaine, crack, heroin, LSD and methamphetamine.
The survey also found that while 41 percent of parents believe Ecstasy would be very or fairly difficult for their teen to get, only 26 percent of teens agreed.
Parents who spoke with their teens "a lot" about drugs tended to focus on alcohol (70 percent), marijuana (60 percent) and cocaine/crack (48 percent), rather than on Ecstasy.
Ecstasy, often handed out at "rave" dance parties, has been linked to damage to the brain, heart and kidneys.
Last week, lawmakers in Washington said they wanted to go after organizers and hosts of "raves" in an attempt to halt the fast-rising use of Ecstasy.
According to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 8.1 million Americans aged 12 and up tried Ecstasy in 2001, up from 6.5 million a year earlier.
Partnership pollsters surveyed 1,219 parents nationwide, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percent. Data was collected during in-home interviews with parents of children 18 and under.
The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, launched in 1987, is a coalition of communications industry professionals aimed at reducing the demand for illegal drugs.
By Larry McShane