Newsbrief: Ecstasy Rarely Kills, British Study Finds 1/17/03

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items

more...

recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed

SUBSCRIBE TODAY!!!

A study published this week in the British Medical Journal found that 81 people died from using MDMA (ecstasy) in Britain between 1997 and 2000. But nearly two-thirds (62%) of those deaths also involved other drugs, usually opiates, and only 7% were attributed to ecstasy poisoning (overdose) alone. A little less than one-third (31%) of the deaths were attributed to "other causes," such as heat stroke or heart attack.

The research, conducted by Dr. Fabrizio Schifano and colleagues at St. George's Hospital Medical School in London reviewed national records on substance abuse deaths. Many of those who died ecstasy-related deaths were "known to health services as drug addicts, and died at home," the researchers noted.

According to the British drug policy research group Drugscope (http://www.drugscope.org.uk), half a million people take ecstasy every weekend in Britain. Extrapolating from those figures, Brits gobbled down approximately 100 million ecstasy tablets during the period examined by Schifano and his colleagues. With only 31 deaths attributable to ecstasy overdose, high body temperature, water intoxication, or heart attack, it appears that the odds of dying after ingesting ecstasy alone were a little less than one in three million.

Published responses to the report suggested a significant role for opiates and possibly alcohol in many deaths included in Schifano's data. Neil Hunt, lecturer in Addictive Behavior at the University of Kent, wrote: "From the data presented, it is hard to see how the detection of ecstasy in many opiate-associated deaths enables the conclusion that ecstasy had 'at least a facilitating role in causing death,' when opiates themselves could provide a sufficient explanation for the 59% of the sample who had used them. Is there unpublished data on the mechanism by which ecstasy operated as a potentiator of other drugs in these cases? This may be an unwarranted leap from association to causation. In fact, we cannot rule out the possibility that the use of a stimulant may even confer some protective effect for some people who have overdosed on depressants. This seems unlikely to me, but interactions within combinations of street drugs remain poorly understood. It is also regrettable that data on alcohol consumption was either unavailable or omitted. It seems highly unlikely that none of the 81 cases had consumed alcohol."

A second respondent, Alexander RW Forrest, Professor of Forensic Toxicology, at the University of Sheffield, had some information on that score. He reported that of 45 ecstasy-related deaths he investigated during the same time period, 60% had "significant concentrations of ethanol in either their blood or their urine" and 36% had opiates in their systems.

Visit http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/326/7380/80 to read the report and responses in the British Medical Journal.

-- END --
Link to Drug War Facts
Please make a generous donation to support Drug War Chronicle in 2007!          

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #272, 1/17/03 The Road to Mérida: Interviews with Participants in the "Out from the Shadows" Campaign | The Road to Mérida: Interview with Dr. Francisco Fernandez, Anthropologist and Former Rector of Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán | The Road to Mérida: Interview with Al Giordano, publisher of Narco News | Bolivian Government Represses Coca Protests, Four Dead... So Far | Ed Rosenthal Medical Marijuana Trial Underway -- Judge Blocks Mention of Prop. 215, Has Trouble Seating Jury | Canadian Prime Minister Promises Motion on Decriminalization as Courts Continue to Chip Away at Marijuana Laws | Latin American Anti-Prohibition Conference, Feb. 12-15, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico | Cumbre Internacional Sobre Legalización, 15-Dec Febrero, Mérida, México | Newsbrief: Souder Pushes Partial HEA Reform, Frank to Reintroduce Drug Provision Repeal Bill | Newsbrief: Racine Caves Before the Ravers | Newsbrief: MPP "War on Drug Czar" Continues -- State Reacts to Allegations | Newsbrief: 12 Dead in Brazil as Drug Police Raid Shantytowns | Newsbrief: Mexican Soldiers Bust Narcs | Newsbrief: Colombian President Seeks Iraq-Like Mobilization Against Traffickers | Newsbrief: Some Colombian Terrorists May Be More Equal Than Others | Newsbrief: Alaska Lieutenant Governor Disqualifies Marijuana Legalization Petition Signatures, Proponents Vow Fight | Newsbrief: Return of the RAVE Act | Newsbrief: Ecstasy Rarely Kills, British Study Finds | Alan Shoemaker Ayahuasca Legal Defense Fund Needs Support | Media Scan: Washington on Forchion, Cockburn on Rosenthal, Forbes on Walters, Szasz on Drug Medicalization, Bruce McKinney, GAO on DARE | DC Job Opportunity at DRCNet -- Campus Coordinator | The Reformer's Calendar
Mail this article to a friend
Send us feedback on this article
This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
Chronicle archives
Subscribe now!
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en EspaŮol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em PortuguÍs Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts

StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]