One in four clubbers 'has mental problems'

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The Independent Online

Clubbers twice as likely as other Britons to consult a doctor about mental problems, with one in four showing symptoms of psychiatric disorders, a survey of dance culture revealed.

Clubbers twice as likely as other Britons to consult a doctor about mental problems, with one in four showing symptoms of psychiatric disorders, a survey of dance culture revealed.

The study of 1,000 readers of Mixmag, the dance magazine, showed increasing numbers reporting difficulties such as anxiety, insomnia, poor con-centration and low self-esteem.

Researchers said that because 98 per cent of respondents admitted to taking drugs, the findings were a clear suggestion that drug use affected mental health.

One in 10 drug users believed that taking ecstasy had made their lives worse overall. About 30 per cent of cocaine users reported suffering a nosebleed after snorting the drug, while one in 10 experienced paranoia, agitation, chest pains, palpitations or nightmares after taking the horse tranquilliser ketamine.

The survey, based on 1,000 interviews, claims to provide a reliable snapshot of drug-taking on the dance scene. It is overseen by Dr Adam Winstock of the National Addiction Centre at the University of Kent in Canterbury, and has been used by the Home Office.

It showed that there was a reduction last year in the use of ecstasy and the "new" dance drugs, ketamine and GHB. There was a 13 per cent fall in ecstasy use, though about 500,000 young people were still taking the drug every weekend.

The downturn in ecstasy was recorded despite prices for a tablet reaching an all-time low of £4.12, compared to an average of £8.83 in 1999. Use of GHB fell 23 per cent, and ketamine slipped 19 per cent. Cocaine use was down 4 per cent and amphetamines down 2 per cent, the survey indicated.

Viv Craske, senior editor at Mixmag, said he believed a period of dangerous excess and experimentation in recent years had been replaced by more responsible attitudes among clubbers. "The year 2000 was all about bingeing on cheap 'E' and experimenting with new drugs such as ketamine and GHB. It was a phase. I think a lot of people who were doing binge drug-taking realised they were risking their physical and mental health," he said.

"This year clubbers calmed down and went back to their three favourites: E, weed and coke. They found that taking 10 Es a night doesn't necessarily get you any more high than taking two or three.

"There is often a lag between the arrival on the scene of new drugs and the time it takes to publicise the positives and negatives. In the past year we have seen more responsibility, encouraged by more realistic drugs awareness campaigns," he added.

Users had also been shaken by the death of Lorna Spinks, the student who died last May after taking ecstasy while clubbing with friends in Cambridge, he said.

Ecstasy-users in search of a rapid, powerful high are inserting the Class A drug into the rectum to absorb it more quickly into the body. The survey showed 6.7 per cent of drug-users had taken ecstasy anally, compared with 3.4 per cent last year. It also found one in three had unplanned sex after taking ecstasy and one in 100 had unprotected and unplanned sex on ecstasy that resulted in pregnancy.

While drug-taking is decreasing, more than a third of male respondents said that they spent more than four nights a week in the pub, the survey said .Respondents said that drinkers were more likely to be treated in accident and emergency units or get involved in fights.

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