DESIGNER DRUGS: A RISKY PILL TO SWALLOW
RCMP-Health Canada Study; Contents Never Certain: 'It's Basically Russian Roulette. You Don't Know What You're Taking'
They come in neat-looking little tablets, in all the colours of the rainbow and with logos their dealers hope will generate product recognition.
But, according to the RCMP and Health Canada, there is no way for users of designer drugs to know what they are getting from one week to the next.
It is the most disconcerting revelation to emerge from a study conducted by both government organizations, said Sgt. Jean Lemieux, an RCMP drug- awareness co-ordinator.
"The one concern we did confirm in this research is that there is no relation between a logo or a crest on a pill and the active ingredients.
That is very important for users, our youth, to understand," Lemieux said.
"It's basically playing Russian roulette. You don't know what you're taking."
For the study, Health Canada analyzed 357 samples of designer drugs seized from rave parties, Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport and clandestine laboratories in Quebec between October 2002 and April 2004.
Methamphetamine, a major stimulant known as speed, was found in 23 per cent of the samples used. MDMA, commonly known as ecstacy, was found in 18 per cent.
"I think that one of the main concerns is that people are looking for MDMA (ecstacy), and they are not getting MDMA. They are getting methamphetamine, which is a very addictive drug. It is a dangerous," said Claude Rouillard, a Universite Laval neurobiologist who took part in the study.
"People are taking pills that they think are candy. They are not candy.
These drugs have short-term effects and long-term effects, very debilitating long-term effects."
The tablets seized came in different forms. Some featured popular brands of products like luxury cars. The danger comes when a drug user assumes the red pill bearing a Ferrari symbol they took one day will contain the same drug the next time they use it, Lemieux said.
The Health Canada analysis found a large variance in the dosages between tablets that were similar in appearance. It also found some contained completely different drugs. Some were found to only contain caffeine.
The RCMP hopes the research will be used by people working in prevention and education programs to inform young people about the dangers of designer drugs.
According to a Statistics Canada study of illegal drug use in Canada, cocaine ranks second behind marijuana in popularity. Ecstacy was third.
But, Lemieux said, the rate of cocaine use appears to be stagnating or even on the decline.
"Designer drugs are on the upswing," he said. "If we're talking about (users who are) 15 to 19 or 20, definitely designers drugs are more used or abused than cocaine."
A copy of the report on the study can be found at http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/qc/neuf/neuf_e.htmEdited by: Alfa