January 29, 2010

Ecstasy Is Most Dangerous Drug For Young People

British researchers said on Friday that the so-called "club drug" ecstasy is more likely than other stimulant - like speed or crystal meth - to kill young, healthy people who are not known as regular drug users, Reuters reported.

In fact, those who died after taking ecstasy were mainly younger and healthier than those who died after taking amphetamines, according to a study of stimulant-deaths in Britain between 1997 and 2007.

"The results of the study appeared to show young people are particularly vulnerable to ecstasy and this age group is the most likely to take it," said Fabrizio Schifano of the University of Hertfordshire, who led the study.

Schifano believes such drugs are a big public health concern.

Data from the National Program on Substance Abuse Deaths database and the British Crime Survey showed that 832 people died from taking amphetamines and methylamphetamines, such as speed and crystal meth, over the 11 year study period, while 605 deaths were related to ecstasy.

Schifano wrote in the study in the Neuropsychobiology journal that deaths from ecstasy were more common in "victims who were young, healthy, and less likely to be known as drug users."

He said the results suggested young people between the ages of 16 and 24 "seem to suffer extreme consequences after excessive intake of ecstasy," but it was unclear what that is.

"Ecstasy and amphetamines are very similar -- they are part of the same pharmacological group. But ecstasy does seem to show an intrinsic toxicity that is higher than that of amphetamines," he explained.

He suggests it may be that young peoples' brains, which are still developing at the age of 16 and 17, are more vulnerable to the drug's effects.

Alongside heroin and cocaine. ecstasy is currently ranked in Britain as one of the most dangerous Class A drugs.


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