LETTER : Why Ecstasy is a treacherous drug

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The Independent Online
From Dr L. C. Luke

Sir: Alix Sharkey's pious (teetotal and tax-paying) anarchy makes amusing reading (Magazine; "E is for ... each to his own", 3 September) but his suggestion that Ecstasy (or MDMA) is an innocent accoutrement to modern recreation is dangerous drivel.

We admit a steady stream of young people to our observation ward every weekend following their ingestion of Ecstasy (as many in fact as eight in a night when there is a big local rave on) and only a deluded bookworm would remain unconvinced that it is the Ecstasy that these patients have taken (and which is usually identified in their urine) that has caused their panic, first ever seizure, heat illness, muscle dissolution or, albeit rarely, their fatal liver failure or stroke.

Ecstasy is a treacherous street drug not simply because its real content is utterly uncontrolled but because many youngsters simply have unpredictably vulnerable metabolic constitutions. The drug does indeed have properties reminiscent of the lotus fruit but the surfeit of tragedies that health care workers like myself see weekly mean that Sharkey's hip Flat Earth propaganda is ultimately in the worst possible taste.

Yours sincerely,

L. C. Luke

Consultant in Accident

and Emergency Medicine

Royal Liverpool

University Hospital

Liverpool

4 September

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