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Ecstasy - the comedown fallout

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
Some of you have seen this via my messenger frolics <IMG SRC="biggrin.gif" border="0" ALT="icon"> but for those that have not, i think its a very good article, giving both sides of the argument <IMG SRC="smile.gif" border="0" ALT="icon">


Comedown - the ecstasy fallout

Britain's half-million pill-poppers could face after-effects that last a lifetime. Anthony Browne reports

Sunday January 20, 2002
The Observer

Staring intently in the dim light, the music rocking his body, James snapped the little white tablet in two. Pressed against the wall, his back sheltering them from the dancing crowds, he took half for himself and gave half to his girlfriend. They swallowed, and the weekend's clubbing started.
'It makes you feel so positive about everyone and everything. You feel so open - you can talk to strangers like they are your closest friends. You feel so sensual, so tactile. I want to touch people's skin, stroke their clothes. And I want to dance, dance, dance,' gushed James. 'It's the best, the most positive experience in my life. It's life-enhancing.'

Or it could be the opposite. New figures from the National Programme on Substance Abuse Deaths show that the number of people who died after taking ecstasy has jumped two-thirds in the past year to 27. Another survey last week, in a magazine for clubbers, suggested ecstasy users were a quarter more likely to suffer mental health problems.

James is one of the half a million people - almost one in 100 of us - who regularly use ecstasy in Britain. Supporters claim it is less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco if used sensibly but doctors warn it could be storing up a time bomb of mental illness as Generation E gets older.

The debate is intensifying, with both sides trying to score points as pressure grows on the Government to downgrade ecstasy from a class A drug like heroin to class B like cannabis, severely reducing the penalties for possession. Police groups have said that if the drug can be shown to have a limited effect on health, then it should be downgraded. Unlike alcohol, it is not associated with violence, and there is no strong link with crime as is the case with heroin. If ecstasy is proved to be safe, the Government will be unlikely to resist calls to downgrade it.

By 3am, three hours before closing time, the nightclub bars were shut: James and his fellow clubbers were not interested in alcohol. On the dance floor the crowds mesmerised themselves, writhing to hypnotic music. In the chill-out rooms, they talked, sat silent, lay down or held heads in hands. 'Your eyebrows have turned into caterpillars - they're crawling over your face,' said one worried girl. 'I don't like it. Am I hallucinating?' By 6am, there were just a few left, mostly on their own, lying in another world, staring blankly.

The drug takers are likely to spend most of the next day sleeping, and surveys show that four out of five of them could suffer mild depression - the ecstasy blues - throughout much of the following week. They could also - like those 27 people last year - end up dead, killed by dehydration, overheating, drinking too much water, heart attack or stroke. Leah Betts, the 18-year-old who died at her birthday party, was the first to make headlines in 1995. Last year's toll includes Robert Lowe, who died of a heart attack at his twenty-first birthday party in Birmingham in January, closely followed by Julie Sumner at another Birmingham nightclub. 'Pure ecstasy is a very dangerous substance. Just one pill can kill you,' said Peter Stoker, director of the National Drug Prevention Alliance.

Professor John Henry, a clinical toxicologist at St Mary's Hospital, London, said: 'All the deaths are particularly tragic because they are young, they are not hardened drug addicts - they were trying to have a good time, and they didn't even take an overdose.'

But then Henry reaches a rather surprising conclusion: 'All these deaths get far more publicity than they're worth. Given that half a million people use the drug, the great majority experience no problems.'

Indeed, despite the headlines, ecstasy deaths are rare - just 2.2 per cent of the total drug related deaths. Government figures show that heroin killed 754 people in 1999, while cocaine killed 87. Each year hundreds of thousands are killed by the effects of alcohol and tobacco.

Mat Southwell of the Dance Drugs Alliance, which campaigns for education about how to enjoy drugs safely, said: 'Research shows the chance of dying each time you take ecstasy is one in a million - that's the same as downhill skiing.' Danny Kushlick, director of Transform, which campaigns for the legalisation of all drugs, said: 'You are more likely to die of a peanut allergy.'

While the number of deaths from heroin and cocaine has nearly tripled in the past five years, the number killed by ecstasy has stayed fairly constant. Far fewer people took ecstasy in 1994 than in 1999, yet more people died from it.

'We see very few people in hospital with ecstasy problems nowadays ,' said Henry. 'People are now used to the effects of ecstasy and know how to deal with it. You can drive the number of deaths down by taking precautions, but some people will always still die.'

Southwell insists that by educating users, and with co-operation from nightclubs, all deaths can be avoided. 'There is no such thing as a killer pill - it's a myth. People die because they can no longer tell when they are too hot or too thirsty - they die from dehydration, overheating or drinking too much water.'

Deaths can be minimised by testing tablets for impurities, making water freely available, educating users to drink regular modest amounts (about a pint an hour) and by making sure nightclubs are well ventilated and not too crowded. 'In Holland the police and nightclubs work together to reduce the risks. They even test the pills and allow people only to take in three to the club. And last year they had no ecstasy deaths for the first time,' said Southwell.

But Henry believes the focus on ecstasy deaths hides another danger: 'It's a distraction from the real risk of ecstasy, which is its long-term effects, causing such things as memory loss and depression.'

At the University of East London, Andy Parrott has conducted extensive research and is convinced that ecstasy has severe short-term and long-term psychological effects. 'The more you use, the more you suffer memory problems. One in five novice users suffer memory loss, while almost three-quarters of heavy users do. Depression is another big problem - it is increased even in former moderate users,' he said.

Ecstasy works by stimulating serotonin production in the brain but in so doing damages the ability of the brain to produce serotonin in the future. People with low serotonin levels are likely to be depressed, and commit suicide. There are also fears - so far not backed up by evidence - that ecstasy may damage the nervous system so badly that it could lead to premature Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease.

Southwell thinks there is little danger: 'We're in the second and third generation of people taking ecstasy, but where are the long-term health problems?'

Parrott is convinced there are long-term effects. He is studying one man who was a heavy user until he suffered such severe sleep problems, depression, memory loss and sexual dysfunction that he was forced to give up. Seven years later, he still suffers the same problems. 'It's the clearest case we have that the effects last a long time. With most drugs, if you stop taking them you get recovery. But with ecstasy, the damage is probably long-lasting.'

Henry also warns that it is still too early to see any effects that take 10 or 20 years to build up. He concludes: 'We shouldn't decriminalise it or encourage wider use until we really know it is safe.'

Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    u need to try this quiz...

    http://www.seethru.co.uk/games/quiz/bore/drugs/index.htm

    ...post back with your score!
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I scored 15... <IMG SRC="frown.gif" border="0" ALT="icon">
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    24/30 <IMG SRC="smile.gif" border="0" ALT="icon">

    I read that article before sumwhere <IMG SRC="smile.gif" border="0" ALT="icon">

    The more pills u munch, the more likely u are summit bad is guna happen to u, but i think the biggest killer of them all, is not being educated enuff on the drug/any drug.

    The only problem i may have with sum of these experiments is that experimentees may have taken other drugs such a cannabis, amphetamines, cocaine, lsd etc effect the results

    We need a proper government funded experiment with people who havnt touched any drugs so that they can find out for sure

    Ecstacy may be a safe drug, but if the cannabis or speed that person ahs taken previously in their life is effecting the results then this isnt a fair experiment
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    the articale was very interesting and informative, thanx for posting it
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    <IMG SRC="eek.gif" border="0" ALT="icon"> that is so scary yet so true I have tried to warn my friends to stop and not to take as much we are all 19 and my girl friends will go out to a night club and we will stay till about 7 in the morning! and i will have 1/2 a pill and I will dump at about midnight and they will dump before that and they will have about 3 pill's and heaps of speed and one of them has gone insane! <IMG SRC="eek.gif" border="0" ALT="icon"> she is now I think soon to be locked up or on medication <IMG SRC="frown.gif" border="0" ALT="icon">

    I get worried that i might end up the same as I hang out with them but do not do it as much or as hard as them, they like to be smakd out on the floor of the club and they like to be so fuckd that they cant walk tell me how is that fun?

    I am so worried that I may end up like my friend crazy or just badly addicted <IMG SRC="confused.gif" border="0" ALT="icon">
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    hmmmmmm....

    the number of people who died after taking ecstasy has jumped two-thirds in the past year to 27.

    The more people who take a drug, the more who are likely to die, its the same with driving for god sake, the more people on the roads the more accidents and deaths likely to occur. 27 people in one year when over 2 million tablets are taken every week, work that out yourself for statistics, I'd say its pretty good, asprin is worse!

    James is one of the half a million people - almost one in 100 of us - who regularly use ecstasy in Britain.

    These statistics are wrong, many people won't openly admit to taking drugs and so these can never be accuratly messured, different results are drawn up each week, sometimes stating as high as 3 million people.

    doctors warn it could be storing up a time bomb of mental illness as Generation E gets older.

    People have been taking Ecstasy since the 80s and even further back, there aren't too many reports about these now are there. A similar thing was said about LSD in the 60s and 70s and it turns out LSD is one of the least toxic chemicals known to man.. go figure!

    Unlike alcohol, it is not associated with violence, and there is no strong link with crime as is the case with heroin. If ecstasy is proved to be safe, the Government will be unlikely to resist calls to downgrade it.

    'Your eyebrows have turned into caterpillars - they're crawling over your face,' said one worried girl. 'I don't like it. Am I hallucinating?'

    Am I hallucinating?? What kind of a stupid comment is that? No, course not your eyebrows just do that from time to time... That to me doesn't sound like MDMA I'm afraid and more like MDA or 2CT7 and that isn't Esctasy sorry....

    The drug takers are likely to spend most of the next day sleeping, and surveys show that four out of five of them could suffer mild depression

    The drugs a stimulant, it gives you energy, therefore you dance a lot and don't feel as tired, of course your going to spend the next day sleeping... people who are hungover often spend the next day sleeping.

    Ecstasy also affects the seratoine in your brain therefore you will feel slightly down for a few days as the levels rise back to normal, this usually lasts 3-4 days maximum!

    They could also - like those 27 people last year - end up dead, killed by dehydration, overheating, drinking too much water, heart attack or stroke.

    Yes, because there isn't good information about drug safety, clubs don't provide cold water facilities and good ventilation, also pills are manufactured illegally so people don't know whats in them as there are no guidelines for production.

    'Pure ecstasy is a very dangerous substance. Just one pill can kill you,' said Peter Stoker, director of the National Drug Prevention Alliance.

    Pure Ecstasy? Of course it is... So is pure Alcohol, thats why its broken down into volumes.... illicit manufacturers don't follow guidelines! Also one pill won't kill you, its what you do on that pill which can kill you.

    Ingredients in pills which often kill you are varients of Ecstasy and things such as DXM. Not Ecstasy in its own right, but it (being sold as Ecstasy) picks up the press!

    'All these deaths get far more publicity than they're worth. Given that half a million people use the drug, the great majority experience no problems.'

    Very good point raised.. and with better education this figure to drop lower.

    Each year hundreds of thousands are killed by the effects of alcohol and tobacco.

    Glad to hear it... least they are being realistic

    'You are more likely to die of a peanut allergy than Ecstasy.'

    Bingo....

    I say no more....
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