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News (Media Awareness Project) - CN BC: Ecstasy Use Increasing Despite Drug Becoming More Dangerous
Title:CN BC: Ecstasy Use Increasing Despite Drug Becoming More Dangerous
Published On:2012-01-23
Source:Kootenay News Advertiser (CN BC)
Fetched On:2012-02-01 06:02:15

In the past few months there have been an unusual number of Ecstasy
related deaths in B.C. and Alberta. Ecstasy has been a popular drug
of choice for adolescents and young adults for over 10 years. The
East Kootenay Adolescent Drug Use Surveys have shown that Ecstasy is
the only substance to have a steady increase in use in the East
Kootenay from 2005 to 2011, going from 4.7% of youth reporting
lifetime use in 2005 to 8.7% in 2011. 16% of Grade 12 students in the
East Kootenay have used Ecstasy at least once.

Ecstasy or MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphtamine) is a chemical in the
amphetamine group, and is related to other amphetamines such as
Ritalin, Dexedrine or crystal methamphetamine (`crystal meth'). Sold
as a pill or tablet, it is a stimulant which produces a sense of
euphoria, increased energy, feelings of connectedness with others and
has mild hallucinogenic properties. Ecstasy initially became popular
as a `club drug' and would be used at all night dance parties or
raves. In its pure form Ecstasy is relatively non-toxic in low doses.
Death was uncommon and would occur when users became dehydrated or
overheated from excessive exertion, or as a result of an extreme
negative reaction to the chemical.

One of the key concerns with Ecstasy use is that the user has no way
of knowing the purity of what they're buying. RCMP analyses of seized
drugs sold as Ecstasy in BC show that a very low percentage are
actually pure Ecstasy. Most drugs sold as Ecstasy contain a variety
of other psychoactive chemicals, and many contain no Ecstasy at all.
This makes use much riskier as the user can never know exactly what
they are getting or what the dosages are. Because people can react
differently to different drugs, a person who has had a non-problematic
experience with what they thought was Ecstasy one time, may have a
very negative and potentially lethal experience with the next batch of
drug. This appears to be what happened in some of the recent Alberta
and B.C. deaths.

Another complicating factor is that some youth are now taking multiple
doses of Ecstasy at one time. We have had local youth tell us of
taking 7 or more `hits' of Ecstasy over the course of an evening.
Increasing the dosages increases the risks. This coupled with the
uncertainty of what is actually in the pills being taken makes using
any Ecstasy use a real gamble. Furthermore, Ecstasy is a drug that
people can become addicted to. There is also evidence of persistent
mood and thought disorders as a result of regular use, even after
people have stopped using.

If anyone has questions about Ecstasy or any other drugs, please
contact your local East Kootenay Addiction Services office or use our
toll free number 1-877-489-4344.
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