BBC News – Monday, 14 January, 2002, 15:04 GMT
Clubbers who take ecstasy are 25% more likely to have a mental health disorder, compared to the general population, a survey has found.
The survey by clubbers’ magazine Mixmag, for 18 to 24 year olds, found one in four who take ecstasy had a potentially serious psychiatric disorder.
The UK average is one in five.
Mixmag claim the annual survey, carried out in conjunction with Dr Adam Winstock of the National Addiction Centre at the University of Kent is “the most accurate snapshot of drug taking in young Britain today”.
Its findings back up previous scientific concerns over a link between ecstasy and mental health problems.
Ecstasy users are also twice as likely to have seen a doctor about a mental health problem compared to the rest of the population.
Half of them asked about depression, which scientists believe could be linked to use of the Class A drug.
But one in 10 users believed that taking ecstasy had made their lives worse overall.
Both ecstasy and cocaine have been linked with mental health problems such as paranoia, panic attacks and depression.
Widespread drug use
The extent of drug use amongst clubbers is graphically illustrated by the fact 97% of 1,000 people surveyed said they had tried both E and cannabis at least once.
Eleven per cent have tried heroin.
Mixmag estimates 1.5m people take ecstasy every weekend.
But it says consumption has dropped by 13% among regular users.
Ecstasy use had resulted in unplanned sex for one in three, one in 100 of which resulted in pregnancies.
Half said their performance at work had been affected because of the drug.
But the survey also found clubbers had developed a novel way of ensuring Ecstasy got into their bloodstream as quickly as possible – by taking it as a suppository.
The technique was seen in the 1996 cult movie Trainspotting where Ewan McGregor’s character used a heroin suppository.
One in 15 surveyed by Mixmag admitted they had taken the drug in this way, a 200% increase compared to last year.
Inserting it into the rectum allows the body to absorb it more quickly because of the large number of blood vessels in the anus. In the stomach where it has to be broken down by enzymes.
The cost of ecstasy has fallen to £4.12 per pill, compared with £8.83 in 1999, the survey showed.
Cocaine use fell 4%, though 45% of those surveyed said they still took the drug on a regular basis.
Almost a third of cocaine users reported suffering a nosebleed after snorting the drug.
Drug use appeared to be linked closely with high levels of alcohol use.
More than a third of men who responded to the survey spent more than four nights a week in the pub.
All respondents were three-and-a-half times more likely to injure themselves on alcohol than on ecstasy.
They were also two-and-a-half times more likely to end up in the local casualty department.
The survey also showed one in three said they had been violent on alcohol, compared with one in 10 on ecstasy.
Twice as many had driven on ecstasy than on alcohol but drink drivers had a higher accident rate.
Viv Craske, senior editor of Mixmag, said: “Hopefully what our survey respondents have to say will reach all the right ears and open up the debate on drug taking even further, making clubbing safer.”
He added that part of the fall in ecstasy use may have been due to the death of 19-year-old Lorna Spinks, the student who died last May after taking ecstasy while clubbing with friends in Cambridge.
Harry Shapiro, of the drugs charity DrugScope, said the survey results could be affected by the fact people chose whether or not to respond.
He said: “It is likely that those people who use recreational drugs on regular basis are also more likely to develop a mental health problem than those who do not use drugs.”