The number of hospital emergency visits involving the illicit drug Ecstasy increased nearly 75 percent between 2004 and 2008, from 10,220 to 17,865, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) said today. Most Ecstasy-related visits (69.3 percent) involved patients aged 18 to 29, but 17.9 percent involved adolescents aged 12 to 17.
Ecstasy use can produce psychedelic and stimulant side effects such as anxiety attacks, tachycardia, hypertension, and hyperthermia. The variety and severity of adverse reactions associated with Ecstasy use can increase when the drug is used in combination with other substances of abuse — a common occurrence among Ecstasy users, the agency said. The study indicates that 77.8 percent of the emergency department visits involving Ecstasy use also involve the use of at least one or more other substances of abuse. “The resurgence of Ecstasy use is cause for alarm that demands immediate attention and action,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela Hyde. “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.”