Dr Leanne Hides says ecstasy is the drug of choice for dance venues and festivals because it’s cheap, readily available and socially acceptable.
She said five per cent of 14 to 19 year olds and 11 per cent of 20 to 29 year olds had used ecstasy in the past year
“Ecstasy produces feelings of euphoria, increases energy, sociability and feelings of connectedness with others,” Dr Hides said.
“You can get off your face with ecstasy for about $30 – it would cost about three times as much to feel the same way with alcohol. But it does have its downside – there is a come down and it can result in reduced concentration, attention and memory functioning over time.
“One of the big concerns is when it is mixed with alcohol ecstasy interacts with alcohol so users drink more because they don’t feel drunk – they are alert but clumsy which produces safety issues.
“On top of this they are sleep-deprived, and this slows down their response time.”
Dr Hides said it was concerning that most users, being young, were taking the drug when their brain was still developing.
“We do not know the full effects of ecstasy on the developing brain and ecstasy use has been linked with long-term effects on memory” she said.
“We also know people using ecstasy are more prone to depression.”
Dr Hides said she had already spoken with 50 young ecstasy users for the study and hoped to interview another 50 on their experiences with the drug.
“Most users’ key concern is they might not be getting MDMA but some other drug. The most common additives or substitutes are ketamine which are used as horse tranquilisers, MCAT (mephedrone) and PMA which are more toxic,” she said.
Dr Hides would like to speak with ecstasy users over the age of 18 about their ecstasy use.
Study participants will be interviewed about their experiences and offered further information on ecstasy use in either a face-to-face format or receive written information.
To participate, contact Dr Leanne Hides on the echeckup number 0435 965 589 or [email protected]
Media contact: Niki Widdowson, QUT media officer, 07 3138 1841 or [email protected]