Most ecstasy-related deaths occur among white males

January 09, 2003

Most people who die after taking ecstasy are white males in their late twenties, finds a study in this week's BMJ.

Researchers at St George's Hospital analysed data on drug-related deaths collected for the National Programme on Substance Abuse Deaths. They identified 81 ecstasy-related deaths occurring in England and Wales between 1997 and 2000.

Most people who died from taking ecstasy were white, employed men in their late twenties, half of whom were known to services as drug addicts. The deaths occurred mainly at party times (weekends, summer, and at New Year) and were concentrated in urban industrial areas in the north and southeast.

In 62% of cases ecstasy had been taken with other drugs, both prescribed and non-prescribed, possibly in an attempt to modulate the effects. In these cases, the authors argue, ecstasy had at least a facilitating role in causing death.

In a number of cases, however, people had died after taking ecstasy on its own, which earlier studies had suggested was unlikely.

The authors conclude that more research into the incidence of ecstasy use is necessary for a better understanding of the drug's dangers, and welcome plans to extend the role of the National Programme on Substance Abuse Deaths.
-end-


BMJ

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