'Club Drug' Ecstasy Alone is Enough to Kill
Club Drug' Can be Lethal Even Without Other Drugs or Alcohol
WebMD News Archive
Sept. 24, 2003 -- The "club drug" ecstasy may be deadly
enough on its own to make a clubgoer's night out their last, a new study
New research shows that one in six people who died in England
and Wales after taking ecstasy had not taken any other drug. Researchers say
it's the largest study to date on ecstasy-related deaths and should clear up
the myth that the club drug is only lethal when mixed with other drugs or
"This clears up the debate once and for all -- ecstasy
alone can kill," says researcher Fabrizio Schifano, MD, of St. George's
Hospital Medical School in London, in a news release.
The study, published in the October issue of Human
Psychopharmacology, shows that the number of ecstasy-related deaths has
risen in England and Wales each year since 1996.
The number of deaths rose from two deaths in 1996 to 72 in
Researchers found three out of four of the victims were under
29 years of age and four out of five victims were male.
The study also found that in 17% of the deaths linked to the
club drug, the victim had taken no other substances, such as alcohol, cocaine,
amphetamines, or opiates, before his or her death. But researchers say they are
concerned that ecstasy may be even more deadly when used in combination with
"Many people now combine ecstasy with alcohol at the
beginning of the evening to get a greater high, then use drugs like cocaine or
amphetamines to prolong the effect, before taking opiates or high doses of
alcohol to calm themselves down at the end of the evening," says Schifano,
"and it's a potentially lethal cocktail."
Researchers say death from ecstasy isn't quick. They say it
takes several hours for the hyperthermia (rise in body temperature) and brain
swelling caused by the drug to take effect.