The tragic deaths of two young men after a rave in Ayr over the May Bank Holiday weekend made the music industry miss a beat and caused another round of media panic about the use of dance drugs.
Thom Dibdin investigates.
ot any E‘?‘ The lad in front of me at a Glasgow club was your average club type: young. wearing baggy trousers. trainers and a colourful T— shirt. After he‘d made sure that I wasn’t a rival dealer came the £l5 question: ‘Do you want some‘."
Just a fortnight on from the deaths of John Nisbett. aged 18. and Andrew Dick. aged 2(). after a rave at Hanger 13 in Ayr. there was little or no change in the dancing habits of an estimated 20 per cent of young Scots. l was
offered Ecstasy three times in one night and if
the hypnotic gyrations of the ‘shiny. happy people’ on the dance floor were anything to go by. most of them had scored.
Ecstasy is described by the recent Scottish Affairs Committee report on Drug Abuse in Scotland (see panel) as ‘the drug that non-drug users take’. An estimated half a million people in Britain use it every weekend. creating a market worth over £390 million a year. It
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creates a feeling of euphoria: a highly enhanced ability to relate to and feel intense affection for others. while giving the user enough energy to dance all night. It also increases the body temperature and overrides the body’s natural urges to cool down. Immediately following the tragedy at Hanger l3. there widespread panic amongst ecstasy users. Two deaths at one rave. with another six people presenting themselves at hospital. was unprecedented. Wild rumours of ‘dodgy li‘ were doing the rounds. with the blame being put on particular types of ii know as ‘wiudow panes” and “turtle doves‘. as well as a lethal
‘A whole range of factors make the difference between a lot of people on a
about twenty tablets of the drug most weekends pinpointed the major concern for ecstasy users: ‘What is in that little pill‘?’ She buys her supplies from a friend and sells only to her friends and thinks she can be reasonably sure that the drug will be pure. But only the person who makes it knows what really goes into it. "The real problem is that there is no quality control for E. which is very disturbing.’ she said. ‘The people who introduce any sort of garbage into the community are the menace. they don’t give a shit if it’s dangerous, just so long as they make a quick buck.’ Everything from aspirin to the rat poison Warfarin has been sold as ‘E'.
The big dealers and drug manufacturers in the ecstasy industry are in it for the money. and it would be naive to expect them to have any respect for the end user. Another problem is that real ecstasy: MDMA. is difficult to make. Another drug. MDA. which shares some of its better qualities. is one of the drugs in the chain of chemical reactions which eventually produce MDMA. It is cheaper and quicker to make but is also more toxic: one dose is about 150 mg and the toxic dose can be as low as 5()() mg. Anyone
mixture of ketamine (a pig taking more than three tablets tranquilliser). heroin and ChemicaI of ‘ecstasy‘ at a time is putting amphetamine. out who come themselves at very serious risk:
livery user I interviewed , _ significantly more MDA than expressed concern at the deaths. 3W3! he'll!!! 3 Int MDMA is confiscated by the although none said that they rough and police. so it is fair to assume would stop using the drug. ‘I b d d . , that more ofitison the streets. don‘t take more than a couple at some 0 y ymg' What drugs the two lads at a time. so I'm not that concerned —"——_ Ayr had been taking will not be about it for myself. but there known until the toxicology again I know how to look after myself.‘ said reports are published at the fatal accident one unemployed twenty-year-old from Pollok inquiry into their deaths. However, the in (ilasgow. ‘lt‘s mostly a problem of folk registered causes of death: ‘Disseminated
taking too many. or buying dodgy li.‘ according
to one young Edinburgh professional. A first-'
time user who had had a serious panic attack during the first hour of the experience found the ensuing high so pleasurable. that he said he would ‘definitely‘ be trying it again.
A small-time dealer from Glasgow. who sells
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Contrary to all but a few press reports. nearly
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10 The List 20 May—2 June 1994