Outrage as publicity-mad chief constable says 'ecstasy is safer than aspirin'

By Synesthesiac · Oct 13, 2008 · Updated Oct 14, 2008 · ·
  1. Synesthesiac
    RICHARD_228x329.jpg Brunstrom: 'Ecstasy is a remarkably safe substance. It's far safer than aspirin.'

    Notorious chief constable Richard Brunstrom is facing demands to resign after publicly claiming that the illegal rave drug ecstasy is safer than aspirin.

    In his latest bizarre proclamation, he insisted that the drug - which claims almost 50 lives a year - was a "remarkably safe substance".
    And he went on to dismiss what he called "scaremongering" over the dangers, while predicting that all drugs would be legalised within ten years.
    The comments from the gaffe-prone head of the North Wales force infuriated the families of youngsters who died after taking ecstasy.
    Des Delaney, whose 18-year-old daughter Siobhan was killed by a single pill at a nightclub two years ago, said Mr Brunstrom "should go and stand by my daughter's grave every week and see how he feels".

    siobhanDM0101_228x764.jpg Tragic: Siobhan Delaney died after taking an Ecstasy tablet at a nightclub two years ago. Her father Des has called Mr Brunstrom's comments 'absolutely ridiculous'

    Campaign groups said that 53-year-old Mr Brunstrom's increasingly controversial public comments on drugs were no longer "compatible with his position" as a police chief.
    His comments came during an interview yesterday on Radio 4's Today programme, in which he repeated his calls for the legalisation of outlawed drugs including heroin and cocaine.
    Challenged over the well-documented dangers of taking drugs such as ecstasy, he said: "Actually the reverse is the case. Ecstasy is a remarkably safe substance. It's far safer than aspirin."
    He added: "There's a lot of scaremongering and rumour-mongering around ecstasy in particular. It isn't borne out by the evidence."
    Mr Brunstrom claimed that "Government research" showed ecstasy was safer than many other substances, including tobacco and alcohol.
    When contacted by the Mail and asked to explain that claim, he declined to comment.
    Recent figures show that between 1999 and 2004, UK deaths from ecstasy, a Class A illegal drug, rose from 26 to 48 per year - putting them roughly on a par with fatalities from cocaine.
    The Department of Health was unable to give figures yesterday on the numbers killed by aspirin, which is taken daily by millions to reduce the risk of blood clots and other dangerous conditions.
    The Home Office, which has repeatedly clashed with Mr Brunstrom over drugs policy, was quick to distance itself from his latest comments, stressing that ecstasy was anything but safe.
    And campaigners said his comparison was "absurd", since aspirin is taken for medical reasons and also saves countless lives, whereas ecstasy is illegal and is taken for kicks.
    Mary Brett, UK spokesman for the Europe Against Drugs campaign group, said: "This was an extremely stupid and irresponsible comment. Aspirin is taken as medication to help people get better. Ecstasy is taken to upset the chemical balance of the brain deliberately.
    "Richard Brunstrom is supposed to be a figure of authority and responsibility, respected by young people, and he's sending out a very dangerous message.
    Scroll down for more...
    ecstacyD0101_468x1010.jpg Safer than aspirin, Mr Brunstrom? Tell that to the 50 families a year who lose a child to this insidious drug

    "When you add together all the stupid comments he has made, I believe he should quit."
    Peter Stoker of the National Drugs Prevention Alliance said: "Mr Brunstrom should resign. His comments are increasingly incompatible with his position.
    "Danger from an illegal drug isn't just a question of how poisonous it is in the short term - although any dose of ecstasy can kill - it includes the damaging behaviour which people are sucked into, and the harm it does to those around them, particularly their families."
    Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: "If you strike the attitudes taken by this particular chief constable, if you thoughtlessly downgrade cannabis, if you treat dangerous drugs as 'no worse than aspirin', you make a gift to the drug dealers and criminals who are destroying the lives of so many young people."
    The Association of Chief Police Officers declined to comment since Mr Brunstrom was speaking as an individual. But privately its officials have made it clear that they strongly disagree with his stance on illegal drugs.

    Last updated at 08:35 02 January 2008

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  1. Mammon
    Typical bullshit from the British media. When stories run short they can always go and ask the Betts family exactly how upset they are about their daughter dying. I detest the way they have to rake up the grief whenever they see fit to make a point, usually without any regard for the evidence.
  2. Herbal Healer 019
    safer than aspirin? dont kno bout that but probably safer than alcohol and tobacco when takin responsibly.
  3. fiveleggedrat
    What the government and the media fail to notice is that there is a SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE between an "ecstasy tablet" and MDMA.

    Ecstasy tablets contain unknown combination of drugs. MDMA is a pure, safe substance when taken responsibly.
  4. dutch-marshal
    hooray for Richard Brunstrom:vibes:
  5. elpatto
    Yea that is plainly just a silly article, I mean both the Police cheif and the genral tone of the article are just rediculous. I mean safer then asprin? Mayby on paper buddy but in no way is exctacy safer then asprin. Reminds me of the Aussie airline claiming that flying on a QANTAS jet is safer then riding a goat. All because a few drunken hicks fell off a goat down a mountain and yet nobody has died on a QANTAS flight. Insane comparison.

    I think that all these deaths are a little fishy sounding, must have been dirty pills or something cause it is not at all typical for a 16+ year old to die after taking 1 pill. Mayby like 5-10 or something but like dieing from eating 1 pill? That is scaremongering, they can atleast say that it was not a fatal dose of Mdma but a impurity in the pill, I think that would scare me off alot more then hearing about 1 pill killing someone, that is to say if i was ever to consider taking exctacy ;).
  6. guldenat
    Apparently when the media is short on evidence they'll just parade out victims of the drug war to make a buck. Atrocious.
  7. KomodoMK
    For once a cop that actually speaks the truth. Just reading the comments of some of those parents shows they are misinformed and obviously gullible to the tabloid propaganda.

    I would estimate that at least 90% of those deaths are the result of contaminated/adulterated pills or water intoxication - which 9 times out of 10 is probably a result of the scare tactics used by the media regarding overheating/dehydrating whilst under the influence of said drug.
  8. psyche
    Huh? Altough I think yeah, it may be psychologally, but, you know, why don't you tell that to the thousands of families who lose a child to this insidous drug aspirin?
  9. sylenth
    imagine if there was quality control for these xtc tablets these kids took... i take my cape off to him for trying to make a point. just shows you that they do'nt care about the number of statistics from asprin deaths that they did'nt even give a single figure.
  10. Synesthesiac

    I know, there obviously more to this that we're not being told. Like she drank a whole bottle vodka before. Or was injecting heroin and taking xananx. I know that deaths from xtc are not completely unheard of, but is there any evidence that 5-10 pills alone can kill? I cant see what physically would kill anyone from this, they may feel like shite, but I dont know about death. The deaths that I have heard, that were not mixing with other drugs, of were all using much higher than this, like 20+ in one night, truly ridiculous amounts.

    I suppose some people are more tolerant than others, but still, I see people doing 5-10 all the time, and I dont know of anyone thats died, or even had that many adverse effects.

    Synesthesiac added 5 Minutes and 44 Seconds later...

    Exactly. Thats because the numbers are so damning. Even conservative estimates say that aspirin causes about 7000 deaths due to overdose or misuse every year in the world, some even say its more like 20,000. Imagine if that many people had died of anything else? it would instantly be banned. The amount of people using mdma that die every years is 100 times less. What are the newspapers scared of? The hard incontrivertible facts? They've lost all credibility.
  11. fiveleggedrat
    Dirty pills are more common than anyone would like to admit to, and the share of them on the market is going up, at least in the United States. Swim sees it firsthand.

    I would place less than 5% of E deaths from actual MDMA, and the rest from dirty pills and users combining the E pill with other drugs, including alcohol and speed. I wish I was not so lazy and could actually pull up statistics regarding the cases where death was confirmed to be MDMA and MDMA alone in the body.

    I want to smack those who quote DanceSafe reports from years ago "Oh yeah, DS said it was safe and had blah in it" Um, can't you read the dates? /endrant :p
  12. razorwiredildo
  13. Synesthesiac
    I totally agree. swim has had some very wierd pills before, some ones that gave a nice buzz but for some reason took three hours to come up on, pills that had something in that made his legs tingle for a week after, ones that made him hallucinate (probably acid/lsd) and some that just dont do anything at all. Thats why swim only uses pure mdma now. So much safer.

    Legalize it, and all these problems would vanish.
  14. Bajeda

    I took a brief look at the fifty deaths attributed to ecstasy per year statistic in another thread. It would be more helpful if I had also incorporated estimates of the prevalence of ecstasy use in the UK (hard to find solid info), but it adds some much needed context to the figures so carelessly thrown around in news articles.

    ّIts particularly annoying that many autopsy results list "ecstasy" as a substance found in a deceased individual, as we have no way of knowing exactly what that means, especially when some reports specify MDMA as well as use the term ecstasy whereas others just list the slang term.

    Perhaps a better point would have been made if the constable suggested that MDMA by itself is far less harmful than ecstasy tablets and the various substances they contain, and that education about responsible methods of use (avoid mixing alcohol or other drugs with MDMA, maintain an adequate level of hydration, etc.) paired with other harm reduction methods (such as encouraging pill testing services or offering cheap test kits) would reduce the potential for harm to a level comparable to aspirin - and perhaps even less, so far as death is concerned. His claim was far bolder and has less specific scientific backing, though I suppose it doesn't really matter given the current socio-political atmosphere.

    As for other points concerning the article...

    I wonder where they got the 'aspirin is taken by millions each day' figure. It certainly is taken by millions each day, but not in the UK alone (judging by a brief look at studies on the prevalence of aspirin use compared to UK's overall population), so I'm wondering if the author just pulled the number out of thin air. Comparing ecstasy deaths in the UK to how many people use aspirin world wide doesn't make sense, but then again, the article doesn't give any other useful numbers like how many people died from aspirin or how many people are thought to use ecstasy either, so the the point is moot. Might as well have not looked at the constable's claim at all for all the light they shed on it, though they did do a good job of framing the comparison in a light that makes the policeman look like an idiot.

    I like this quote, "And campaigners said his comparison was 'absurd', since aspirin is taken for medical reasons and also saves countless lives, whereas ecstasy is illegal and is taken for kicks." Illegality has nothing to do with the comparison Brunstrom was trying to make! Ignoring the issue of whether or not people should have the right to potentially harm themselves in search of "kicks", the progress of scientific research examining MDMA's potential as an adjunct to therapy for serious psychological conditions (PTSD, end of life anxiety, etc.) will hopefully take some more bite out of the argument presented by the campaigners. Recreational and medical use are distinct of course, but its harder to argue that there is no point to ecstasy use when there is evidence that it can have positive effects on the psyche.

    Nothing else interesting here really, same old strategy of trying to guilt people by personalizing deaths related to ecstasy. This article goes farther than most by adding the pictures, but otherwise it fits in with the rest of the propaganda.

    "Safer than aspirin, Mr Brunstrom? Tell that to the 50 families a year who lose a child to this insidious drug"

    Why doesn't this guy talk to the families of people who died from taking aspirin, or ask aspirin manufacturers to do so?

    Or better yet, ask the families of people who died from alcohol abuse whether they feel that ecstasy is more dangerous than the drug that killed their kin. Sadly, most would probably say yes.
  15. Mutil
    well obviously the media is willing to overlook the fact that it isn't the MDMA that kills most "ecstasy" users. as was already stated, ecstasy pills could have anything in them, and it's usually the combinations that make it dangerous. For example, MDMA + DXM = x-P

    which is why any responsible drug user would make sure they were taking a pure product. is it such a surprise that a bunch of teenagers weren't responsible?

    i suppose all the deaths a year caused by tobacco and alcohol don't count for shit, though...after all, these ecstasy pills are pure evil, and thus MDMA must be pure evil too.
  16. KomodoMK
    You have to bear in mind that whilst Aspirin may kill 100x more people a year than Ecstasy, it's probably used 1000x more times. However this is not due to the drug itself, and is mainly because of a black market flooded with dirty/adulterated pills or due to the spread of misinformation, which the biggest source of is the media. The only sensible solution would be to legalize the less harmful chemicals so they can be sold in their pure form under strict regulation, and actually provide accurate and detailed education on the subject. Can't see this happening any time in the near future. :(

    It infuriates me to read the comments of these parents, one of whom has been on a 10 year campaign to raise awareness of Ecstasy, yet still clearly lacks a sufficient knowledge about the subject herself. It also angers me when people preach about the dangers of drugs but then happily drink Alcohol and smoke a pack of Cigarettes everyday. Just because it's legal doesn't make it any safer... at least MDMA can have a positive effect on ones health, Alcohol may have arguably minor benefits in small doses and I can't think of a single one for Tobacco.
  17. Nature Boy
    It's absolutely shameful that a person would get witch hunted over something of this nature. What he states is completely true. From a scientific perspective, MDMA is safer than aspirin as a controlled dose is far less likely to kill you. The smear campaign begins and the pious assholes compile their lists of dead kids. I'm sure you could just as easily fill article space with pictures of old fogeys who caked it on aspirin. Shit happens. It's dirty street pills and bad information that causes ecstasy deaths. Taken in a clinical environment, it's as safe as houses. This is the simple point Brunstrom makes. Why can't idiots realise this?
  18. guldenat
    This question answers itself.:laugh:
  19. KomodoMK
    Sadly, this couldn't be more true!
  20. Wierd Logic
    I have no source, but Leah Betts apparently died from MDMA and drinking too much water. She drank like 12 pints in an hour some something silly.
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