Ecstasy enters the front room

Drug-taking: As prices plummet, pill-popping has become an everyday activity in the comfort of home

The price of ecstasy has dropped to as little as pounds 5 a tablet, which is helping create a new breed of habitual drug takers who have shunned night clubs and get high at home instead.

The slump in the cost of the drug has been caused by dealers flooding the market with high quality tablets from Europe, particularly Holland. Drug agencies have noticed that because of the easy availability and low cost of ecstasy, an increasing number of people appear to be taking tablets during the week rather than reserving them for the weekend.

Teenagers as young as 13 and 14 who cannot afford or are unable to get into night clubs, are among the new group of "couch potato" home users. Older takers of ecstasy - people in their 30s and 40s, tired of the club scene - are also popping pills with friends in their front room.

Ecstasy prices have been dropping ever since it was first introduced into the rave dance scene in Britain in the late 1980s.

From an average street price of pounds 20 a tablet in 1991 it has fallen to pounds 15 in 1992/93, pounds 12 in 1994, pounds 10 in 1995, and pounds 8 this year, according to the Manchester based drugs agency Lifeline. When bought in batches of 10, the tablets can cost as little as pounds 5 each, although usually they cost a few pounds more.

Mike Linnell, of drug charity Lifeline, said: "People are no longer waiting for the weekends, they are taking an E before they settle down to Brookside.

"The ritual of taking them at raves has gone now. People don't see them as anything special anymore.

"If you're paying as little as pounds 5 for a tablet it's far cheaper than alcohol to get out of your mind."

He added: "There's more of it about - there's a big market - and dealers have such an easy time they can afford to drop the prices."

Drug users have reported that there is more pure ecstasy - MDMA - available now. Previously the tablets were often badly made or were mixed with other drugs and had little or a bad effect on the drug taker.

Recent research by Lifeline and a music magazine found that it was not unusual for people to be taking 100 to 200 tablets a year, or four every week.

Between 500,000 and 1 million people are believed to take ecstasy every week, although there are no official figures available. Most tablets are still taken in clubs and at raves. There has been growing concern about the potential side effects of the drug, particularly since the death last November of Leah Betts, who collapsed after taking ecstasy at her 18th birthday party.

Carlo Pace, a drug worker at the Newham Drugs Advice Project, in east London, confirmed that in the past few months the price of ecstasy had dropped to as little as pounds 7,although tablets cost about double that in clubs.

"There's definitely more around - probably from Holland and Belgium - and there's many youngsters taking it every day, although the weekends are still the most popular."

He added that there were now more dealers who had well organised networks of distribution.

Release, the national drug and legal advice helpline, regularly gets calls from ecstasy users taking tablets at home. A small number of calls have been from people who are taking the drug every day.

Claire Robbins, a drugs adviser at Release, said: "We also get calls from 14- and 15-year-olds who take ecstasy at home because they can't afford to go out, and from people in their 40s who are fed up with the club scene."

Kerry, 36, an ecstasy user, said: "Taking them in clubs is not so popular, it's partly a snobbish thing - everyone, even people in Essex, takes them now. I'm also getting older and have a child so I can't be bothered to go to clubs. Plus, I'm broke."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
people
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Sport
football
News
i100
News
Perry says: 'Psychiatrists give help because they need help. You would not be working in mental health if you didn't have a curiosity about how the mind works.'
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?