During the nineties, the dance party drug ecstasy (chemical name MDMA) was hugely popular. The effects of the drug were euphoria and an increased energy that allowed users to dance for hours at a time. It also made individuals feel alert, and many reported that it made colours more vivid and sounds more intense.
Those who took ecstasy often felt feelings of love for those around them, even if they did not know them. However, there were also a number of other side effects including panic attacks, anxiety, confusion, paranoia, and psychosis.
Ecstasy use hit its peak in the mid-2000s before dwindling, but new reports have suggested that use of the drug is on the increase again.
Across the UK and the rest of Europe, ecstasy appears to be making a comeback, but experts are warning that the drug is much stronger than it used to be. The 2016 European Drug Report has revealed that existing and new drug users are choosing ecstasy as their drug of choice but that the drug is likely to contain much higher doses of MDMA than it did during its heyday.
The comeback has been attributed to the growing electronic dance music industry. Drug experts from the EU have claimed that manufacturers are using ‘aggressive marketing tactics’ to encourage the use of the drug by utilising a variety of logos to entice youngsters; things such as Superman or a particular music festival, for example. Latest figures have revealed that around 2.1 million people across the EU aged between fifteen and thirty-four have used ecstasy in the past year. In the UK alone, 3.5 per cent of young adults admitted to taking the drug in the last year. This is the second highest level in the EU, behind the Netherlands, which came in at 5.5 per cent.
Improving the Image
Use of ecstasy had been steadily declining, with many believing that this was due to poor quality as many products contained very little MDMA. Nevertheless, experts now believe that manufacturers have been working hard to ‘improve the image’ of the drug. A spokesperson from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) saying, “Innovation in sourcing precursors, new production techniques, and online supply all appear to be driving a revival in a market now characterised by a diversity of products. High-dose powders, crystals and tablets with a range of logos, colours and shapes are available, with evidence of production to order and the use of sophisticated and targeted marketing.”
Need for Education
Experts believe that youngsters do not comprehend the risks associated with ecstasy. With the drug being much stronger than before, there is a need to educate new users on the dangers of taking ecstasy. During the 1990s and 2000s, MDMA content in ecstasy tablets averaged between fifty and eighty milligrams. The average content of MDMA in ecstasy now is around 125 milligrams. Some countries are reporting ecstasy purity of between 270 and 340 milligrams.
According to EU drugs agency director Alexis Goosdeel, “The revival of MDMA brings with it the need to rethink existing prevention and harm-reduction responses to target and support a new population of users who may be using high-dose products, without fully understanding the risks involved. Intoxications and even deaths associated with this drug are highlighted in our new report. This is particularly worrying since MDMA is moving into more mainstream social settings and is increasingly available via online markets.”
Experts are warning that ecstasy has become popular with a whole new market of users and is no longer a drug taken by those in dance clubs. It has become the drug of choice for youngsters at festivals, parties and even in bars. They are calling for more education the risks involved.