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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference