WebMD Health News
Laura J. Martin, MD
March 24, 2011 -- Ecstasy use is rising among teens and young adults, causing a significant increase in emergency room visits by users of the street drug, a new federal study shows.
Hospital emergency department visits involving ecstasy increased from 10,222 in 2004 to 17,865 in 2008, a 74.8% increase.
Most of these emergency room visits (69.3%) involved patients between 18 and 29; 17.9% of those seeking help in ERs were between 12 and 17, according to the report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Ecstasy can produce psychedelic and stimulant side effects, including anxiety attacks, hypertension, hyperthermia and rapid heart beat, called tachycardia. Such adverse reactions can increase when ecstasy is used, as it often is, along with alcohol or other substances of abuse, according to researchers.
SAMHSA says 77.8% of the emergency department visits involving ecstasy also involved the use of at least one other substance of abuse. Among ecstasy-related emergency department visits involving people 21 and older, 39.7% of the patients had used the drug with three or more substances of abuse, most often alcohol.
Among people 20 and older making emergency room visits because of ecstasy, 50.1% also had used alcohol and 43.4% cocaine, according to the SAMHSA’s Drug Abuse Warning Network, a public health surveillance system known as DAWN.
Among emergency department patients 20 or younger, 20.4% had also used alcohol and 14.7% cocaine.
“The resurgence of ecstasy use is cause for alarm that demands immediate attention and action,” SAMHSA administrator Pamela S. Hyde, JD, says in a news release. “The aggressive prevention efforts being put into place by SAMHSA will help reduce use in states and communities, resulting in less costly emergency department visits related to drug use.”
According to the DAWN report:
DAWN researchers also detected regional differences in ecstasy use. Their report says 34% of ecstasy-related emergency department visits were made in the South, 31.4% in the West, 18.5% in the Midwest, and 16.1% in the Northeast.
Other key findings:
Authors of the DAWN report say ecstasy is a public health concern because of its adverse health consequences, and it is also addictive. It says users of the drug need to be educated about its dangers, especially about what can happen when it’s used with other illicit substances.
SOURCES:News release, SAMHSA.Drug Abuse Warning Network, The DAWN Report, March 24, 2011
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