Ecstasy-Related ED Visits Hit New High

Caroline Cassels

December 03, 2013

The number of emergency department (ED) visits related to the use of MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) has increased by a staggering 128% in just 6 years, new research shows.

Also known as Ecstasy or Molly, a new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that MDMA-related visits among individuals younger than 21 years jumped from 4460 in 2005 to 10,176 in 2011.

In addition, 33% of ED visits involving MDMA use in this patient population also involved alcohol use.

"These findings raise concerns about the increase in popularity of this potentially harmful drug, especially in young people. Ecstasy is a street drug that can include other substances that can render it even more potentially harmful. We need to increase awareness about this drug's dangers and take other measures to prevent its use," Peter Delany, MD, SAMSHA's director of the Center for Behavioral Health and Statistics and Quality, said in a release.

MDMA has both stimulant and hallucinogenic properties. Although it is usually taken by mouth, it can also be snorted or smoked. The drug produces feelings of increased energy and euphoria and distorts users' sense and perception of time.

The report authors also note that the drug can produce a variety of negative health effects, including anxiety and confusion, that can last a week or longer. In addition, it has been associated with hypertension, as well as renal and cardiac failure.

The increase in this population is "a cause for concern due to the serious health risks involved with Ecstasy use and the higher potential for abuse when Ecstasy is mixed with alcohol," the report authors write.

The full report is available on the SAMSHA Web site.

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