Regular E-users take more risks

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Regular E-users take more risks

One in five young Australians take ecstasy pills

One in five young Australians take ecstasy pills

Pixabay CC

One in five young Australians take ecstasy pills

Pixabay CC

Pixabay CC

One in five young Australians take ecstasy pills

Vesh Arumugam, Reporter- ECU Daily

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The latest data from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), shows that half of the one in five young Australians who regularly use psychostimulant drugs report mental health problems. Quarter of them experienced adverse events related to their drug use.

According to NDARC, psychostimulant drugs are used to increase a persons energy and also for their euphoric effects. Amphetamine is one of the most well-known psychostimulant drugs. Other psychostimulants include cocaine, methamphetamine, and ecstasy, while psychostimulants such as Ritalin and Dexamphetamine are used in the treatment of conditions such as ADHD.

Chief Drug Data Collector from National Drug Research Institute (NDRI), Simon Lenton, told ECU Daily that the study showed that many young Australians take drugs regularly.

“People 18 to 21 years old in Australia are most at risk, as one in five of them take drugs regularly,” said Professor Lenton.

However, according to NDARC’s report half these users report mental health problems.

The study was a collaboration between reputable drug research institutions such as NDARC and NDRI and other researchers. They studied behaviours of both methamphethamine (ice) and ecstasy users.

Psychostimulants and illicit drug users were studied in this research. However, the exact contents of their psychostimulant drugs are not known as the drugs were not tested.

Overall, 898 ecstasy and 786 illicit drug users’ behaviours were studied in the research. They were observed for a year.

In a separate but related study by the Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS), it was found that the number of ice users has decreased by 39% in the last 14 years in Australia.

People who inject drugs regularly were surveyed separately as part of the Illicit Drugs Reporting System (IDRS) and showed a high rate of ice use. Of the 574 people surveyed (who injected drugs regularly), 40 of them stopped consuming drugs completely after the first six months of the research.

In Australia, the number of ecstasy and ice users is decreasing. According to the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS), the overall number of ice and ecstasy users has decreased but the number of people who use regularly (as opposed to occasionally) has increased.

Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) expert, Dr Stephen Bright, said that WA has the highest rate of ecstasy use in Australia.

“According to NDSHS, there’s an increase in ecstasy use particularly in WA as of 2016,” said Dr Bright.

Dr Bright said that media focuses on elaborating on the harm of using drugs regularly. On a larger scale, due to the repetitive broadcast, it might seem that the media is focused on drugs and drug users, but Dr Bright said it might be untrue in some cases.

He said that stigma around drugs in society has to stop and that according to a study conducted by British psychiatrist and neuropsychopharmacologist, Professor David Nutt, alcohol was ranked the most harmful of 20 different drugs.

“If you see the emergency centres at the hospitals on a Friday night, very few people come in because of drugs, it’s usually accidents, alcohol and other issues,” said Dr Bright.

According to the NDARC study, people who regularly consume psychostimulant drugs are prone to experiencing physical and mental harm. They are more likely to hurt themselves or attack others. Psychostimulant drugs and injecting illicit drugs alter the users’ minds. “They feel different, they act differently,” said Professor Lenton.

Professor Lenton said that young people, 18-30 years old in WA are reported to be more vulnerable to taking ice, while cocaine is allegedly used in Sydney and Melbourne.

“Among people who are using [drugs], we could see very significant problems such as being dependent on the drugs and having mental health issues,” said Professor Lenton.

Amanda Roxburgh, National Researcher at NDARC, said that the factors affecting people who use drugs vary.

“They feel powered by it, so they take regularly to probably have better communication or feel better overall,” said Ms Roxburgh.

Dr Bright said, “The factors affect different people as to what they are looking for.”


He added that it is hard to eradicate drug use in Australia because as with alcohol and tobacco, there is demand, but harm reduction programs can prevent harmful behaviours from drug use.

He supports regular pill testing, drug checking, needle and syringe exchange programs in Australia to prevent drug overdose and to increase the physical and mental wellbeing of people who use drugs.

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