The image of ecstasy as an innocent party drug is wrong and although many people end up in hospital after taking a pill, few ever go public about their experiences, researchers from the Trimbos addiction institute said on Thursday.
One in 250 users end up being treated by first-aiders, researcher Esther Croes told the NRC. But users tend to dismiss the issue, arguing that sensible use of the drug does not cause problems.
The research was carried out on behalf of the health ministry after pills with extremely high doses of the active ingredient MDMA started turning up.
The researchers looked at the period 2006 to 2015 and found that just 3% of the Dutch use ecstasy and there has been a drop off in minor incidents. However, the Dutch forensic institute has identified 21 deaths which can be directly attributed to the drug and 47 further deaths in which it played a role.
That might not be many – 7.5 deaths a year – if you consider 380,000 Dutch people took a pill in 2015, but ‘these people did not have to die’, Croes said.
‘Ecstasy is not an innocent substance,’ she said. ‘The problem is under-estimated.’
However, the number of instances of poisoning have risen sharply, totaling almost 8,400 between 2009 and 2015 and now account for a third of all recorded drugs incidents.
Most people who do get into trouble with ecstasy are reluctant to talk about it, because they are embarrassed, Croes said. Ecstasy has an innocent image so people don’t talk about the problems, such as extreme jaw clenching, she said. ‘And that only shores up its reputation.’