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News (Media Awareness Project) - Australia: Grisly Drugs Replacing Ecstasy
Title:Australia: Grisly Drugs Replacing Ecstasy
Published On:2011-12-11
Source:Canberra Times (Australia)
Fetched On:2011-12-13 06:06:00

POTENTIALLY more addictive and harmful drugs are filling the gap as
ecstasy use declines in the ACT, with scientists yet to understand the
long-term effects of more than 40 new psychoactive substances.

The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre warns synthetic
stimulants and psychedelic drugs could be more dangerous than ecstasy.

Ecstasy use in the ACT has declined rapidly due to a number of reasons
such as successful police crackdowns and the fact that young adults
who used the drug at its peak have grown older.

Centre researcher Lucy Burns said as ecstasy became less pure and
harder to find, the gap was being filled with a range of poorly
understood alternatives such as mephedrone and synthetic cannaboids,
banned in the ACT and subsequently across Australia earlier this year.

"We haven't yet seen the spike in emerging psychoactive substances in
Australia as in the UK," she said. "But these drugs can have
unpleasant effects and harms have been reported."

Mephedrone is the fourth most commonly used drug in Britain - after
cannabis, ecstasy and cocaine - and more than 70 per cent of poly-drug
users in Britain's dance music scene used the drug in the past year.
University of Tasmania researcher Raimondo Bruno said about a third of
heavy ecstasy users also used synthetic stimulants, such as
mephedrone, which had chemical profiles that created a high risk of
drug interactions and adverse health effects.

"Mephedrone has broadly similar effects to ecstasy, however it has a
higher potential for dependence, and cravings are much greater for
mephedrone than for ecstasy," he said.

"People need to be very careful with these unknown drugs, especially
if they have health issues that could be exacerbated by psychoactive
drugs - people with heart problems, mental health problems, or those
using other medications which could interact."

Visiting Australia from the Maudsley Hospital in London last month,
consultant psychiatrist and addiction medicine specialist Adam
Winstock said emergent synthetic drugs like mephedrone were a wake-up
call for government health services.

"It's a rapidly shifting marketplace," he said. "A cat and mouse

"Trying to ban drugs on the internet is like trying to block a sink
with a sieve."
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