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Monday, 14 January, 2002, 15:04 GMT
Clubbers' mental health risk
Ecstasy is widely used by clubbers in the UK
Clubbers are more likely to show signs of a psychiatric illness, a survey has shown.

A survey of readers of Mixmag found they were twice as likely to score highly on a standard test to measure mental health.

Mixmag claim the annual survey, carried out by researchers at the National Addiction Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry, South London and the Maudsley Trust and the University of Kent, is "the most accurate snapshot of drug taking in young Britain today".

Hopefully what our survey respondents have to say will reach all the right ears and open up the debate on drug taking even further, making clubbing safer

Viv Craske, Mixmag

Researchers used a test called the GHQ12. A score of higher than four on the test is a recognised threshold for identifying individuals with a psychiatric illness.

Official statistics from 1995 estimate 17% of 16 to 24 year olds score more than four on the test.

The figure for clubbers surveyed by the Mixmag Research Group found 32% scored above four.

Almost 22% of the 988 people surveyed had seen a doctor about a mental health problem.

Eleven per cent had been referred to a psychiatrist at some point in their lives.

And 12% said they had deliberately harmed themselves.

Thirteen per cent had sought help from a drug service or other expert, with 17% seeking help elsewhere.

However, the researchers stress that the survey was a self-selection questionnaire, and that those who take the trouble to complete the form are likely to be more drug-involved in some way.

The researchers said it was "highly unlikely" that the sample is representative of the average clubber.

"This sample seems more likely to consist of 'hard core clubbers'", they said..

Widespread drug use

The extent of drug use amongst clubbers is graphically illustrated by the fact 97% said they had tried both E and cannabis at least once.

Eleven per cent have tried heroin.

Mixmag magazine estimates 1.5m people take ecstasy every weekend.

But it says consumption has dropped by 13% among regular users.

Ecstasy use had resulted in unplanned sex for one in three, one in 100 of which resulted in pregnancies.

Mixmag details what happens to a clubber's body
Mixmag details what happens to a clubber's body
Half said their performance at work had been affected because of the drug.

Mixmag clubbers had developed a novel way of ensuring Ecstasy got into their bloodstream as quickly as possible - by taking it as a suppository.

The technique was seen in the 1996 cult movie Trainspotting where Ewan McGregor's character used a heroin suppository.

One in 15 surveyed by Mixmag admitted they had taken the drug in this way, a 200% increase compared to last year.

Inserting it into the rectum allows the body to absorb it more quickly because of the large number of blood vessels in the anus. In the stomach where it has to be broken down by enzymes.

Falling cost

The cost of ecstasy has fallen to 4.12 per pill, compared with 8.83 in 1999, the survey showed.

Cocaine use fell 4%, though 45% of those surveyed said they still took the drug on a regular basis.

Almost a third of cocaine users reported suffering a nosebleed after snorting the drug.

Drug use appeared to be linked closely with high levels of alcohol use.

More than a third of men who responded to the survey spent more than four nights a week in the pub.

All respondents were three-and-a-half times more likely to injure themselves on alcohol than on ecstasy.

They were also two-and-a-half times more likely to end up in the local casualty department.

The survey also showed one in three said they had been violent on alcohol, compared with one in 10 on ecstasy.

Twice as many had driven on ecstasy than on alcohol but drink drivers had a higher accident rate.

Viv Craske, senior editor of Mixmag, said: "Hopefully what our survey respondents have to say will reach all the right ears and open up the debate on drug taking even further, making clubbing safer."

He added that part of the fall in ecstasy use may have been due to the death of 19-year-old Lorna Spinks, the student who died last May after taking ecstasy while clubbing with friends in Cambridge.

Harry Shapiro, of the drugs charity DrugScope, said the survey results could be affected by the fact people chose whether or not to respond.

He said: "It is likely that those people who use recreational drugs on regular basis are also more likely to develop a mental health problem than those who do not use drugs."

See also:

11 Jul 01 | Health
Ecstasy 'damages mental health'
18 Dec 00 | Health
Ecstasy brain damage link
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