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Viagra Meets the Rave Scene

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Roinick says the common "cure" for ravers who feel depressed after taking the drug is to lay off ecstasy for a couple of weeks to give the brain time to recover. But Wilson says some studies have shown there is no such thing as recovery from ecstasy -- and further, that the drug can dangerously increase both body temperature and blood pressure.

Viagra, on the other hand, can cause a decrease in blood pressure, and Wilson says he can't say whether combining the two drugs is necessarily dangerous. But psychiatrist Marshall Forstein, MD, medical director of Mental Health and Addiction Services at Boston's Fenway Community Health Center, warns that it's a bad idea.

"A lot of the ecstasy is not pure," he says. "It's a mix of different amphetamine salts. But even so, ecstasy affects the liver metabolism of Viagra ... they inhibit enzymes which metabolize each other." That can cause a potentially dangerous rise in blood levels of each drug. " He also says there have been reports of strokes in people who take the two drugs together.

As for using Viagra with poppers, which are particularly popular in the gay community, there's no uncertainly as to the dangers. "The risks with the poppers is serious," Forstein says. "They lower blood pressure precipitously."

So why would someone want to take these two drugs together? "Poppers dilate blood vessels. So they make people get a rush," he explains. "The problem is, many men become sexually dysfunctional with constant use and that's when there's a tendency to want to use Viagra." Even men who don't intend to use the two drugs together can get into trouble in clubs, where vials of poppers sometimes get shoved under unsuspecting nostrils, Forstein says. Men who have used Viagra hours earlier can be affected, since the erection drug stays in the body for such a long time.

In an article distributed by the Canadian Press news service, a spokesman for Viagra manufacturer Pfizer says the company warns against using Viagra with poppers or ecstasy. "Viagra is not an aphrodisiac and has no effect on libido," says Don Sancton, director of corporate affairs for Pfizer, Canada.

No one can say at this point the extent of drug-mixing going on in the nightclub and rave scene -- and, in particular, the use of Viagra there. Conrad Roberson, of the Drug Identification section of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, says it's unlikely authorities would take much notice of the illegal possession of Viagra when they're arresting someone for the far more serious offense of possessing ecstasy. And because Viagra falls outside the list of federally "controlled" substances, its use is not of legal concern to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

But according to one advocate, the very nature of the rave culture is not conducive to the widespread use of Viagra.

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