The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'ecstasy'
Last year, scientific journal Science published a study which showed that just one dose of Ecstasy (MDMA) can cause irreversible brain damage and premature Parkinson's disease. The piece was picked up on to give impetus to laws prosecuting dance party organisers for not enforcing a drug-free environment. Now it emerges that the experiment was a sham; the substance injected into the hapless monkeys in the experiment was not MDMA but methamphetamine; the result of mislabelled test tubes. Oops! Though I bet that prohibitionist zealots and prison industry lobbyists will keep trotting this experiment out as "proof" that we need more draconian anti-drug laws, confident that the average voter isn't going to have a foolproof scorecard of just what has been discredited.
You've heard of the research unanimously pointing to ecstasy causing long-term brain damage? Well, apparently much of that is propaganda, with experiments being compromised to give politically useful results, and contradictory research being frozen out of journals.
A woman with the euphonious name of Decca Aitkenhead has written a book about her search for the perfect E (the drug, that is). The Grauniad has published an excerpt, in which her quest takes her to America:
When manufacturers began tampering with Es, they would substitute the cheaper ingredient of amphetamine for MDMA. Then came a spell when pills were laced with a hint of barbiturate, followed by a short but nasty batch of Es containing ketamine, a devastating veterinary anaesthetic. A particularly sneaky substitute is something called MDA, a derivative of MDMA. Popular with drug dealers, it mimics the effects of its chemical cousin for the first 15 minutes but then, very suddenly, it's over - giving the unlucky clubber just enough of a glimpse to tempt them back to buy another. A typical dud pill nowadays contains little more than glucose and caffeine, but MDMA is still out there and the quality of Es varies widely, each new brand quickly acquiring a reputation on the club scene.
According to the Victorian police, 95% of the "ecstasy" in Australia is fake, containing no MDMA and god only knows what. This is because of Customs stopping most shipments of the real stuff.
So what's in these tablets? Amphetamine is the main ingredient, says Quinn, "but in an attempt to mimic some of the effects of real ecstasy - euphoria, increased energy, pleasurable rushes, feelings of empathy, dreaminess and a hallucinogenic-like glow - producers of the fake pills typically combine various stimulants, hallucinogens and sedatives, depending on what chemicals they have access to... We're also seeing paracetamol; the stimulants pseudoephedrine and ephedrine; and heroin, codeine and cocaine all mixed up in the one tablet. And we've found tiny pieces of LSD tickets pressed inside tablets. We're finding benzodiazepines Temazepam, Diazepam, and Rohypnol, which are all sedatives. There's sometimes caffeine. We've also found Promethazine, a motion-sickness medication, which makes you feel woozy, cloudy, dissociated."
(Which sounds like a good argument for legalising and regulating the substance, like tobacco, in the name of harm minimisation. If there's a market for MDMA, give the buyers something that won't kill them and put the criminals who make fake pills out of business. Unless one accepts the neo-Darwinian argument that people who take recreational drugs with unknown long-term effects are unfit to consume resources and pass on their genes and are best culled from the gene pool.)
Drugmusic update: Skinny Boy Tubby, that James Brown of the chemical generation, copped some flack over his upcoming album from the mother of Tragic Ecstasy Victim Leah Betts, 15YO and permanently 'sorted'. Janet Betts, now an anti-drug warrior to rival Bill Bennett, who called for laws banning such music. Never mind that she hasn't heard it, or for that matter that the canonical Big Beat drug is alcohol.