ECSTASY USERS RISK OVERDOSE
Some Taking Antidepressants, Other Drugs To Get Extra 'Rush'
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - One in four ecstasy users in Australia takes
antidepressants and other pharmaceuticals to heighten the effect of
the drug, greatly increasing overdose risks, according to new
The survey by the country's National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre
found 25% of 216 ecstasy users-mostly young, well-educated, urban
residents-were combining the illicit drug with prescription pills for
an extra "rush."
This group was mainly male. Most of them were not new users of the
They most often combined ecstasy with benzodiazepines, antidepressants
and sildenafil (Viagra), saying they did this to increase the effect.
They reported side-effects such as muscle rigidity, nausea, severe
headaches and profuse sweating.
Dr. Gordian Fulde, director of emergency services at St. Vincent's
Hospital, a major teaching facility in Sydney, called the findings "a
frightening example of how misinformed many young people are.
"If people think they'll get an extra kick out of benzodiazepines
they're wrong because benzodiazepines have a calming effect."
According to Paul Dillon, a spokesman for the National Drug and
Alcohol Research Centre, the risk of overdosing is "drastically
increased" when ecstasy is used with antidepressants.
"I've seen one case and it was just about the most horrible thing I've
ever seen-a young man who was so hot you couldn't physically touch
him," Dillon said. "The body can't cope with the huge serotonin rush
and it melts."
The study discovered most users who mix ecstasy with other drugs are
given pharmaceuticals by their friends.
However, the researchers also found men in their 20s were obtaining
prescriptions easily from their family physicians.
"We thought they'd be getting Viagra from the Internet but we found
many young men in their 20s were getting it prescribed, no questions
asked," Dillon said.
"The study has raised a number of concerns for primary health-care
practitioners and pharmacists about how easily these products are