[FONT=Arial,Helvetica]MOUNTIE CALLS FOR MORE EDUCATION ON RISKS OF ECSTASY
VANCOUVER -- Although use of ecstasy among Vancouver youth trails that of alcohol and marijuana, the dangers of the party drug have not been properly conveyed to users, according to the RCMP.
"We have undermined the harms of ecstasy. We haven't done enough on it," said Sergeant Scott Rintoul, a member of the RCMP Drug and Organized Crime Awareness Service.
"When you hear reports of meth being made available to young people, people get concerned and scared. It's an easy sell. Ecstasy has the perception it's benign, which is not true. We just haven't done a good enough job."
"Ecstasy has been a drug that hasn't received as much attention as several others. There is a need to take a fresh look at ecstasy," said Cameron Duff, who conducted the study. "We're finding here in Vancouver that a number of young people are experimenting with this drug."
Dr. Duff emphasized that the vast majority of Vancouver youth do not have a drug problem. However, he said, the rates of use for ecstasy are much higher than cocaine and three times higher than crystal methamphetamine.
However, the study says young people view ecstasy as far safer than either of those drugs and, when asked what the risks of taking ecstasy were, generally listed social - such as affecting relationships - over health risks.
One of the biggest concerns about ecstasy is that the percentage of tablets containing methamphetamine has skyrocketed since 1998. When the RCMP first started analyzing ecstasy taken from drug raids, around 8 per cent of the tablets contained meth, Sgt. Rintoul said. Last year, 71 per cent of the tablets analyzed had meth in them.
"We're not talking about a large amount - between eight to 10 milligrams of meth in a tablet - where the ecstasy in a tablet is anywhere from 75-100 milligrams," Sgt. Rintoul said. "But when you look at methamphetamines, eight to 10 milligrams is still a pretty strong dose for someone who doesn't have a tolerance for meth."
He said there is a fair amount of concern that the volume of meth being put into ecstasy tablets is going to increase in the near future, causing more ecstasy users to get hooked on meth.
"That's the risk, because now a person is consuming an ecstasy tablet that also has a lot of meth in it. That could be the carrot that takes them to more methamphetamines."
The majority of Canada's ecstasy is produced in British Columbia, mainly in the Greater Vancouver Regional District. Methamphetamines started being added to ecstasy around 2000, Sgt. Rintoul said, when the drug stopped being smuggled into the country in tablet form and instead came in powder form.
"Powder's not street ready; it's got to be repackaged and put into tablets, and that's when we started seeing meth added to it," he said.
A typical ecstasy high lasts for three to five hours, and while taking meth at the same time doesn't prolong the effects, it does increase the intensity of the high. [/FONT]