More irresponsible journalism here and once again alcohol is not considered a drug. Is it just me, or is Australia becoming almost as zealous as the states in its war on drugs and the recruitment of the media in that war? This from the Courier News in Australia:
Agony behind ecstasy
May 22, 2006
AARON'S friend overdosed on drugs and collapsed on the footpath in front of a Fortitude Valley nightclub. There were police officers nearby. Fear stopped Aaron from assisting his mate.
"That was the saddest thing, we had to keep walking. We knew he'd be looked after by the police, but I was carrying drugs and I would have been questioned and searched," he says.
This is one of the darker sides of drug use in Brisbane's nightclub districts. As a whole, it paints a picture far seedier than the individuals involved would appear.
Aaron (not his real name) is typical of a trend in so-called party drug users. He is 26, has never been in trouble with the law and holds a full-time job. He also uses drugs regularly. Lured into the scene two years ago, Aaron initially found obtaining drugs difficult. But over time, he has become fully immersed, participating in regular weekend binges and even dabbling in drug dealing.
Aaron says in the beginning he took drugs to enhance his mood, but recently realised drug taking had grown to be more like a game of dare: "It became a case of seeing how f---d up we could get."
He realised he had to disentangle himself, but that has been hard to do. "At first, the drug scene was hard to find," he says. "But after going out a few times, I met a few people very, very quickly. You get to know where the quality is – which dealers you can trust and others who you would only use if you were desperate."
Aaron says the most popular drug of choice is ecstasy (pills, E). He also lists gamma-hydroxy-butyrate, (GHB, GBH – short for grievous bodily harm – G) and crystal methamphetamine (crystal meth, ice) as other favoured options.
He says the current price for ecstasy is $$ a pill if buying in small amounts, or $$ a pill if buying in bulk. GHB costs about $$ a 4ml vial and crystal meth can cost from $$ for one "point", although, Aaron says, he would never pay more than $$. A single night out on "recreational" drugs can cost less than a night on alcohol, but a drug binge racks up quite a bill if it lasts all weekend.
"I can go out on E and have four for about $$. But it keeps you awake and you keep going, so you end up getting more and going all weekend," Aaron says. "I would spend more money on alcohol (in one night), but I'd get drunk, go home, have a hangover (and the binge would stop after one night)."
Aaron's last all-weekend drug bender ended up costing him $$$.
For quality control, he refers to the pill.reports website, which lists user comments on different ecstasy pills. He has never had access to a pill testing kit. Aaron does not know of any nightclub where drugs can be obtained over the bar.
Researchers at The University of Queensland's Alcohol and Drug Research and Education Centre have been recruiting regular ecstasy users such as Aaron for surveys over the past three years.
The latest annual Party Drugs Initiative was released this month, its purpose to monitor ecstasy use. Key experts consulted for last year's report noted that regular ecstasy users were mostly aged in their twenties, most were tertiary educated and in fulltime employment. Many were "middle-class types", and 60 per cent were male. However, a PDI researcher says that ecstasy use appears to be so wide spread that it involves people from all walks of life.
The researcher says the most concerning factors are bingeing, consuming alcohol with drugs or consuming a night's drugs in one hit to avoid sniffer dog detection and the risk of unknown contaminant or drug strength due to the illicit status of pills sold as ecstasy.
The last National Drug Strategy Household Survey found about 3.4 per cent of the Queensland population had recently used ecstasy or other designer drugs in a 12-month period.
Meanwhile, submissions recently have been collected for a Parliamentary Joint Committee involving the Senate and Australian Crime Commission Inquiry into Amphetamines and Other Synthetic Drugs. The aim of the research is to inquire into the production and consumption trends, and determine how adequately law enforcement agencies are handling this.
Caroline Salom, director at the centre for addiction research and education at Drug Arm, says drug users should educate themselves about what they are doing to their bodies by taking illicit drugs.
Physical effects include liver and kidney damage, especially if drugs are taken in tandem with alcohol. The consumption of alcohol with drugs is a worrying trend, she says. "There is no safe way to take drugs. Drugs are not necessary and there are plenty of ways to achieve a natural high."
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