ER visits due to ecstasy up 75 percent

March 24, 2011 at 11:40 PM
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ROCKVILLE, Md., March 24 (UPI) -- U.S. hospital emergency visits associated with the illicit drug ecstasy grew from 10,220 in 2004 to 17,865 in 2008, a 75 percent increase, officials say.

A study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, says most ecstasy-related visits involved patients ages 18-29, but 17.9 percent involved teens ages 12-17.

Pamela S. Hyde, administrator of SAMHSA, says ecstasy use can produce psychedelic and stimulant side effects such as anxiety attacks, tachycardia, hypertension and hyperthermia. The adverse reactions can increase when the drug is used in combination with other substances of abuse.

The study indicates 78 percent of the emergency department visits involving ecstasy use also involve the use of at least one or more other substances of abuse, Hyde says.

Forty percent of patients older than age 21 had used ecstasy with three or more other substances of abuse, the study says.

"The resurgence of ecstasy use is cause for alarm that demands immediate attention and action," Hyde says in a statement. "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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