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Hospital Visits Due to Ecstasy Use Climb 75 Percent Between 2004 and 2008

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Emergency room visits related to use of the illicit drug ecstasy rose 74.8 percent between 2004 and 2008, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), HealthDay News reported March 24.

A new analysis from SAMHSA's Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) showed that ER visits related to use of ecstasy jumped from 10,200 in 2004 to 17,865 in 2008. The drug is addictive, and can cause, “anxiety, agitation, recklessness, increased blood pressure, dehydration, heat stroke, muscle cramping, blurred vision, hyperthermia, heart failure, and kidney failure,” according to The DAWN Report released March 24. Use in a crowded dance parties can increase its cardiovascular risks.

“It remains to be determined how severe the long-term neurotoxic effects may be on the brain,” said Dr. Lewis Goldfrank, of the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. “There is no reason for anyone to believe that the use of this drug is safe at some dose — the risk is consequential at any dose.”

Most patients — 69.3 percent – treated for ecstasy use were between the ages of 18 and 29, but 17.9 percent were between the ages of 12 and 17. The majority of patients (77.8 percent) used ecstasy in combination with one other drug (31.3 percent); two other drugs (15.0 percent); three other drugs (14.0 percent); or four or more other drugs (17.5 percent). 

The March 24 DAWN Report also noted that trend data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) showed an increase in ecstasy use among adolescents between 2004 and 2008 (from 1.0 percent to 1.4 percent), as well as young adults (from 3.1 percent to 3.9 percent).

“The resurgence of ecstasy use is cause for alarm that demands immediate attention and action,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. in a press release. “The aggressive prevention efforts being put into place by SAMHSA will help reduce use in states and communities, resulting in less costly emergency department visits related to drug use.”

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