Banning club drugs hasn't made users safer
October 6, 2014 6:37 PM   Subscribe

In her quest for answers, Goldsmith came to a startling realization: Molly didn't kill her daughter. Federal policies that promote drug abolition and discourage education about safe drug use killed her daughter. "The way we deal with it has got to change because people are dying," said Goldsmith. "My heart says: if you're gonna try Molly, you better make sure you know what you're taking." - Vox: Banning club drugs hasn't made users safer, A grieving mom hopes her plan will posted by beisny (67 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
This must be almost 20 years ago, I remember a guy at a rave in Cleveland tweaking so hard that some people ganged up on him and stole all of his clothes. Then security found him walking around naked and confused and gave him the beating of his life. Couldn't believe it. Then Pharcyde got on stage and I moved on. Fucking federal policies.
posted by phaedon at 7:23 PM on October 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


What's in *your* baggie?!
posted by markkraft at 7:28 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Banning club drugs hasn't made users safer.
posted by Justinian at 7:29 PM on October 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


And the U.S. banning drugs has sure made Mexicans-less safe :
Mass Graves Found After Mexican Student Protesters’ Stand-Off with Cops Last Week
posted by jeffburdges at 7:32 PM on October 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


The way we expect people to make mental calculations about drug use is amazing. Even in an "enlightened" article like this, we get this turn of phrase.
Despite a drug-related death in 2010, Electric Daisy Carnival continues to host an average of 300,000 festival-goers in Las Vegas every year.
Despite? 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. Maybe 2014? That's 1.2M over those years, maybe 1.5M if we include 2014. Why would one death in that period impact someone's decision making about having the show or going to it? Motor vehicle deaths are 1.1 per 100M miles driven. If those 300,000 attendees do 500 miles a year on average then they're more likely to die in the car than at the festival.

That's even comparing apples and bicycles. I'd wager that if you tracked those people over their lifetimes you'd see more total life-lost years from cigs and booze than MDMA, adulterated or not.
Volunteers got visitors chatting like kids on a playground. With lollipops tucked under their tongues, they discussed their favorite drugs instead of their favorite superheroes.
Then again, maybe this whole article is just odd that way. Like kids on a playground? How about like consenting adults.
posted by phearlez at 7:45 PM on October 6, 2014 [46 favorites]


It was never about safety for normal people. It was about safety for our rulers, and the ability to persecute the political left and African Americans.
posted by wuwei at 7:46 PM on October 6, 2014 [20 favorites]


You can tell people not to use drugs. Then wash your hands and walk away. Or you can teach people about drugs. Because they are still going to use them, hand washers. And maybe you can save a life. Too angry to write more.
posted by Splunge at 7:53 PM on October 6, 2014 [7 favorites]


What would have saved Shelley's life? If I understand the article correctly, her autopsy showed that no adulterant was present in the MDMA she took. "Her 14-page toxicology report, which took three months to complete, showed no traces of adulterants, alcohol, or marijuana. She died, it said, of a massive cardiac arrest from MDMA intoxication."

So whatever "federal policies" are posited to have made her situation worse, I just don't get. A purity test would have been clean and been read as "you're safe to take this".

Some people don't respond well to harder drugs, and some die. Blaming the government for this tragedy, unless I'm totally missing the point of the article, is incoherent (to say nothing of drug policies in general, certainly).
posted by sylvanshine at 8:13 PM on October 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


My old pal Timothy Leary publicly endorsed MDMA back in the mid-80s when it first became widely available and wasn't illegal yet. But a few months later, he withdrew his remarks and said it was far too dangerous to take even once.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:22 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's linked in the article, but here's Dede's petition site, if you feel inspired to join her campaign.

More information about her campaign. And here's Dancesafe.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:27 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


The issue is that the legal environment prevents clubs and promoters from taking actions that would keep club-goers safer, such as providing more water or information, as well as testing kits, as that would be acknowledging that they know people are taking drugs there.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:29 PM on October 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


So whatever "federal policies" are posited to have made her situation worse, I just don't get. A purity test would have been clean and been read as "you're safe to take this".

People are also not allowed to talk about safe dosages, which was very likely the problem in her case. Lots of people take way too much. Education might help this.

he withdrew his remarks and said it was far too dangerous to take even once.

Which is as ridiculous as most of the other things he said.

Shulgin is a much better source of information about empathnogens.
posted by flaterik at 8:32 PM on October 6, 2014 [8 favorites]


> So whatever "federal policies" are posited to have made her situation worse, I just don't get.

From the article: "The current approach to reducing the number of injuries and deaths related to MDMA is complete abolition of drugs at concerts and raves. A 2003 law called the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act (popularly known as the RAVE Act), in effect, holds venue owners and promoters responsible for drug use at their events. Promoters cannot offer services that provide information for safe drug use, as that might be mistaken for endorsement of drugs. To obtain permits and insurance for large gatherings, promoters enforce a zero-tolerance drug policy. "

And that's not even touching the appalling lies and bullshit that kids get taught in schools by programs like D.A.R.E.
posted by rtha at 8:35 PM on October 6, 2014 [10 favorites]


Which is as ridiculous as most of the other things he said.

Yeah, tell that to Mrs. Goldsmith.

I completely agree with Tim. I have a friend who nearly died from a single dose of MDMA that had no ill effect on others who took the same dose from the same source.

As sylvanshine said upthread,

Some people don't respond well to harder drugs, and some die.

MDMA is riskier than many harder drugs. It is difficult to tell the difference between an effective dose and a lethal dose until you take it and discover how it interacts with your personal biochemistry. Tim was aware of this and was concerned about the short term adverse effects, but he also said that MDMA had permanent adverse effects on the brain that drugs like LSD did not have.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:55 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


MDMA is riskier than many harder drugs.

The statistics don't really back that up. Compare the number of deaths among users of MDMA compared to, say, Heroin.
posted by Justinian at 9:01 PM on October 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


I completely agree with Tim. I have a friend who nearly died from a single dose of MDMA that had no ill effect on others who took the same dose from the same source.

It would be really fantastic if we could discuss this with a bunch of peer-reviewed studies at our fingertips instead of having a pissing match of anecdatal argument-from-Tim-Leary-No-Sasha-Shulgin! authority.

We can't, and this is one of the great harms caused by. federal drug policies.
posted by rtha at 9:05 PM on October 6, 2014 [67 favorites]


I did a radio show back in the 90s called Radio Free Babylon that played a lot of out there, weird stuff. The official on-air position on substances was, "Radio Free Babylon in no way encourages young people to do any drugs of any kind. But they keep doing them anyway."

So what's changed? Nothing. Young people do drugs, the so-called legal kind and the illegal kind. Why? Because they're fun or whatever. Don't they know better? Know better than what? Of course Ecstasy and its variants are dangerous, but I've seen alcohol do way more damage to way more people, and religion for what it's worth.

And speaking of that dangerous Ecstasy, I recall a period in Vancouver in the early/mid 90s when for whatever reason, it got very difficult to find. So inevitably, something showed up on the party scene called Triple-X. I never did any but I knew many who did, and weird, scary stuff tended to happen. Nobody died but one girl went blind for a while, and a guy sort of blacked out while at a club, then suddenly snapped awake walking in broad daylight six or eight hours later, twenty miles away. Who knows what was in the stuff? Definitely a whack of speed, and likely some PCP.

I could chase this tangent for pages. My point is, make some substance illegal, drive it underground and you're opening up a rat's nest of possible consequences. Which is hardly news. This has been common knowledge since I was twelve (in 1972) because I distinctly remember some older hippie guys saying as much.

What is it about drugs that makes people so fucking stupid? Not doing them. Just the mere existence of them and threat they apparently pose to the powers that be.
posted by philip-random at 9:06 PM on October 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


Some people don't respond well to harder prescription drugs, and some die. FTFY

All strong drugs should be regulated for harm reduction. Pharmaceutical companies should not pump dangerous new patented medications over well tested unpatented medications. And club kids should take well tested relatively safe recreational drugs over crazy pants research chemicals.

How should drugs be regulated? In essence, there should be a "users license" that grants you the ability to buy drugs. It'd be legal to posses, consume, and gift drugs within some reasonable guidelines, but sellers must always verify the buyer's license.

Pot is probably safe with minimal regulation, probably the lowest age for purchase, maybe sold in ways that prevent abuse, like maybe pot smokers should pay more tax than more tightly regulated pot themed restaurants.

Alcohol appears more dangerous than pot. In particular, the courts should maybe have the ability to revoke your license to buy alcohol, if say you frequently become violent, but not for pot.

Imho, you should undergo a psychological evaluation, and user training test, before possessing a license for hallucinogens and empathogens.

It's obvious this should be the case for hallucinogens because hallucinogen injuries almost always come from aggravating an underlying psychological condition. If users were screened, and we learned more about these conditions, then a user could be largely cured by during their first few trips with a trained therapist, and then licensed to do hallucinogens recreationally with periodic checkups.

It's harder to argue this for empathogens, but : If you need psychotherapy then maybe your first few MDMA experiences should be reserved for therapy because (a) the first few MDMA uses are significantly more impactful and (b) MDMA is extraordinarily useful in psychotherapy. We might find genetic tests to predict adverse reactions to MDMA too.

Addiction tests could be part of maintaining a license to buy more addictive drugs like stimulants and opiates. You cannot realistically become addicted to hallucinogens, so they should not require regular maintenance tests. I donno anything about experiences addictiveness

At present, we cannot even design such harm reduction policies with confidence though, due, as rtha says, to federal drug policies.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:11 PM on October 6, 2014 [12 favorites]


So whatever "federal policies" are posited to have made her situation worse, I just don't get. A purity test would have been clean and been read as "you're safe to take this".

Yes, but in a world where MDMA was legal, and promoters were encouraged to minimise harm, she would have been less likely to die. She was in a hot club, she died of hyperthermia.
She died...of a massive cardiac arrest from MDMA intoxication. The drug, combined with heavy activity, like dancing, in a hot environment, led to hyperthermia — heat stroke.

In an ideal world, MDMA would be legal and people could take it at outdoor events with plenty of water available, not crowded and overheated clubs with the taps turned off so that people spend money on overpriced bottled water. There would be more education - making sure people don't dance for hours, that they take breaks to cool down. And indeed education that even pure MDMA can sometimes (though very occasionally) be dangerous.

So yeah, indirectly I think the criminalisation of drugs made her death more likely, at the least.
posted by Pink Frost at 9:12 PM on October 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm not saying MDMA is perfectly safe. I don't think anyone really is. But most cases of MDMA-related deaths aren't pure drug toxicity cases. They are either overdoses (one of the Electric Zoo deaths last year comes to mind, where the woman who died took six doses), or death from predictable and thus preventable causes like overheating and fluid loss. A lot more people also die from bunk pills containing compounds far more dangerous than MDMA being passed off as ecstasy than die from MDMA itself.

That's why the NYC Medical Examiner's famous report (warning, PDF) concluded that pure MDMA toxicity deaths in New York City over a three year period amounted to three. Three deaths isn't nothing, it's still tragic, but compared to both how many people died from other substances, and noting how many millions (yes, millions) of doses of MDMA New Yorkers consumed in that same three-year period? Anecdotal evidence shouldn't win that argument.

But instead thanks to Joe Biden and his cheap crusade against raves, club owners are petrified of doing anything that makes it seem like they're encouraging people to consume drugs. You know, stuff like making water, chill-out rooms, or testing tables available.
posted by 1adam12 at 9:14 PM on October 6, 2014 [9 favorites]


It was never about safety for normal people. It was about safety for our rulers, and the ability to persecute the political left and African Americans.

You know the argument is poor when it divides people into "normal" and therefore "abnormal" groups.

"Our rulers." LOL
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:20 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


It would be really fantastic if we could discuss this with a bunch of peer-reviewed studies at our fingertips instead of having a pissing match of anecdatal argument-from-Tim-Leary-No-Sasha-Shulgin! authority.

Okay.. let's go to the organization that may have the most direct contact and direct experience, DanceSafe:

The association of the word “overdose” with “drug-related death” is primarily reflective of heroin and opiate-related deaths, where the majority of fatalities are, in fact, the result of overdosing. However, MDMA-related deaths are rarely—if ever—the result of an overdose, and calling them overdoses is dangerous and negligent. It sends the message that “you will be okay as long as you don’t take too much,” which is simply not true. In the vast majority of cases of MDMA-related deaths, where no other drugs were found in the person’s bloodstream, the deceased had taken a dose within the normal range for appropriate therapeutic or recreational use.

Emphasis as in original text.

Do you think people are just arguing from "anecdata?" This is widely known, so it bears repeating.

In the vast majority of cases of MDMA-related deaths, where no other drugs were found in the person’s bloodstream, the deceased had taken a dose within the normal range for appropriate therapeutic or recreational use.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:21 PM on October 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


From the article:

Still, the setting in which the drug is often consumed — outdoor summer festivals and cramped nightclubs — can make even pure MDMA dangerous. "It inhibits the body's ability to maintain its temperature," said Sferios.

This is what happened to Shelly Goldsmith. Her 14-page toxicology report, which took three months to complete, showed no traces of adulterants, alcohol, or marijuana. She died, it said, of a massive cardiac arrest from MDMA intoxication. The drug, combined with heavy activity, like dancing, in a hot environment, led to hyperthermia — heat stroke.


To be clear. It wasn't the drug that killed her, it was the drug and the situation. Too hot. Not enough hydration. That's common to pretty much every mdma related death that I'm aware of. If there were any wisdom out there, there would be UNLIMITED FREE WATER at every dance/party event. And just in case there were young people who were not aware of the dehydration risk, there would staff on hand urging people to drink up, literally passing around water bottles or whatever.

This was one very avoidable death.
posted by philip-random at 9:25 PM on October 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


charlie don't surf, please read two paragraphs down from the section you quote, and what follows. MDMA toxicity isn't the cause for most deaths - it is hypothermia, etc., that kills people. And the thing about those other proximate causes is that they can be prevented with better practical steps and better information. But instead of being open and honest with partygoers, we prefer a policy of absolute prohibition. And if prohibition is killing more people than the drug, then you end the prohibition. Because you're certainly not going to stop the drugs from flowing.
posted by 1adam12 at 9:27 PM on October 6, 2014 [9 favorites]


To add to 1adam12's point, we also need to consider the fact that death from MDMA is very rare. It's not even close to the same category as heroin or cocaine in terms of deaths, and it's a drop in the bucket compared to prescription drug abuse deaths.
posted by cell divide at 9:32 PM on October 6, 2014


MDMA toxicity isn't the cause for most deaths - it is hypothermia, etc., that kills people.

The fall didn't kill you. It was the sudden stop. Therefore, we must abolish concrete.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:35 PM on October 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


CPB, you don't seem interested in contributing constructively to this thread.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:38 PM on October 6, 2014 [20 favorites]


MDMA is riskier than many harder drugs. It is difficult to tell the difference between an effective dose and a lethal dose until you take it and discover how it interacts with your personal biochemistry.

Numbers do not at all back this up. Not even close. I'm sorry about your friend, but he is not evidence to back up this assertion.
posted by flaterik at 9:49 PM on October 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


Some people don't respond well to harder drugs, and some die. Blaming the government for this tragedy, unless I'm totally missing the point of the article, is incoherent (to say nothing of drug policies in general, certainly).

No but if it was all legal she could go see a doctor, tell them a concert is coming up and that she wants so MDMA. The doctor can then furnish her with the appropriate lectures on drug dependency, tell her if she might be allergic to MDMA based on any other allergies and generally asses how the drug might interact with her biochemistry. Then she can prescribe the dose for her body weight and the MDMA will be pure and measured.

We can't stop people from taking risks. A lot of people call it "living life" because they want to try every new experience they can. We can at least reduce the harm that keeping these things taboo causes where kids just blindly pop a pill without knowing the dosage or if there's any adulterants.
posted by Talez at 9:51 PM on October 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


Do you think people are just arguing from "anecdata?"

Well, you just did, so...yes. I'm sorry about your friend - I've also lost friends to accidental overdoses, though not from MDMA - but that's not an argument for how it's so much more dangerous than other drugs and so on.

I mean, I know people who have died from alcohol-related causes, but it's not because of ethanol poisoning - it's because of proximate causes like choking on vomit or drunk driving.
posted by rtha at 9:55 PM on October 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


From the article:

"This is a girl who had done her laundry, picked up her dry cleaning, before going to the concert. She was not frivolous in any facet of her life."

Listen, I have my opinions; they're not particularly favorable. There is nothing in this article about MDMA that people on the street, 20 years ago, before the internet, didn't know about MDMA. I have really mixed feelings about articles preaching the "safe use" of drugs that are, later in the same article, referred to as unsafe.

What I will say is it is surprising how mainstream MDMA has become since then. You can, of course, just use the phrase "drug education" and wash your hands and walk away. What troubles me is the expectation - hell, the entitlement - that really square people should be able to roll their tits off and otherwise carry on with their non-frivolous lives. That "drug education," when it comes to MDMA, is all about how to accomplish that. As I get older, that just seems rather odd and arbitrary to me.

But perhaps this is an important step towards the legalization of all drugs, which hopefully will lead to the safer use of all drugs, and maybe even one day truly safe drugs, which in turn will lead to greater overall happiness. Or, you know, we're all going to hell. In the meantime, it would be great to see on-site testing.
posted by phaedon at 10:12 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


1adam12: I'm not saying MDMA is perfectly safe. I don't think anyone really is. But most cases of MDMA-related deaths aren't pure drug toxicity cases. They are either overdoses (one of the Electric Zoo deaths last year comes to mind, where the woman who died took six doses), or death from predictable and thus preventable causes like overheating and fluid loss.

To be fair, i feel like you can link those deaths to its illegality though.

I tried a couple unsuccessful google searches, but remember that story of the kid whose friends drove them around until they died from the follow-on effects because they(the friends) were afraid of getting in trouble?

Despite the fact that there's good samaritan/overdose immunity laws in a lot of states/cities/counties, stupid fucking paranoid kids often don't know that. And the well publicized and drilled in to the heads of every kid drug war propaganda about pound-you-in-the-ass prison for possession, and stories of people being punished for "Internal possession", and the millions of second-third-fourth hand stories that pass around in all manner of party kid circles leads to everyone thinking if you call an ambulance for someone experiencing any sort of medical issue or just needing help from drugs, or a possible overdose, or even bad after/side effects, you are going to jail forever.

This type of thing is pretty common. It may be true that very few people die from "bad" drugs, but lots of people die from bad friends. An old friend of mine, a guy i'd known since fucking kindergarten, had his little brother die in the basement at a party because no one wanted to be the one to call 911 and have to deal with the responsibility, or "getting in trouble with their parents", or going to jail, or whatever. Everyone hot potato'd it until he was just told to go downstairs and sleep it off... and just never got up.

I've hated the laws around this stuff with an enormous passion since then. Stories like that were the beginning of me hating the "war on drugs" as a teen. Because yea, i think paranoia around the drug laws and black market bullshit directly kills way more people than the drugs themselves. And i'm fairly certain that's demonstrably true.
posted by emptythought at 11:32 PM on October 6, 2014 [16 favorites]


Wow, yup. Some staggering misreadings and untruths in here that i'm genuinely surprised to see on metafilter, especially the statement that mdma is more dangerous than other hard drugs, and the conflation of drug linked deaths and actual overdoses proper. This sort of ill informed scaremongering helps nobody.
posted by ominous_paws at 11:59 PM on October 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


MDMA toxicity isn't the cause for most deaths - it is [hyperthermia], etc., that kills people. And the thing about those other proximate causes is that they can be prevented with better practical steps and better information.

The steps to prevention are also really easy to take - MDMA doesn't leave you cognitively impaired, unlike alcohol and harder drugs.
posted by MillMan at 12:01 AM on October 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


If there were any wisdom out there, there would be UNLIMITED FREE WATER at every dance/party event. And just in case there were young people who were not aware of the dehydration risk, there would staff on hand urging people to drink up, literally passing around water bottles or whatever.

Anybody contemplating the use of MDMA should understand the associated risks of both hyperthermia and hyponatremia, and should avoid using MDMA in circumstances that inhibit their ability to monitor and manage body temperature and hydration.
posted by flabdablet at 12:28 AM on October 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


i think paranoia around the drug laws and black market bullshit directly kills way more people than the drugs themselves

Max Keiser agrees, loudly
posted by flabdablet at 12:48 AM on October 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


How the fuck is it so hard to remember that prohibition does not and will never work?

I'm guessing our rulers know that, but they don't want to lower the subsidization (aka spending) of law enforcement and the prison industrial complexes. We're pissing our money away on useless shit (And irreparably harming our own people to boot). We can always borrow more from China etc. right? Remember, deficits don't matter.

The Scandinavian countries are looking more and more attractive to me.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 2:12 AM on October 7, 2014


I imagine British readers are all getting déjà vu reading this - from over here it seems like the US is currently around 1990 in MDMA moral panic terms.

Which means you're about five years off the deaths from water intoxication and hyponatremia caused by folk following the advice from health campaigns to stay hydrated, but forgetting how much water they've drunk.

This stage of the panic is traditionally followed by pointless legislation aimed at stamping out drugs in nightclubs (with the totally altruistic backing of breweries and pub companies, of course).

If there were any wisdom out there, there would be UNLIMITED FREE WATER at every dance/party event. And just in case there were young people who were not aware of the dehydration risk, there would staff on hand urging people to drink up, literally passing around water bottles or whatever.

See above for why that wisdom can backfire horribly. (Though obviously free water should be available - there were huge scandals over this in the UK, again in the 90s, including clubbers organising boycotts of clubs who refused to provide it, the dance music press naming and shaming promoters, &c.)

MDMA doesn't leave you cognitively impaired, unlike alcohol and harder drugs.

LOL.
posted by jack_mo at 2:26 AM on October 7, 2014 [7 favorites]


The US has gone through all of that. State by state, plenty of dehydration or water intoxication deaths with pristine high school back stories abound. The thread itself mentions a "RAVE" act...now it's just re - branded as "Molly" instead of "ecstasy" in the US. Regardless of the long established existence of the name, it has certainly picked up a following in the music industry, expanding from EDM into pop, hip hop, etc.
posted by aydeejones at 3:00 AM on October 7, 2014


It's hard to overstate quite how prevalent MDMA use was during the full-on rave years in the UK. It spread out from the underground music scene into all sorts of areas - it was credited for reducing violence at football matches - but now seems to have almost vanished. Not so much an unexpected thing among my own set - as we're late 40s/early 50s, most of my druggy pals are more into their hard-core claret - but looking at the signifiers in the art and music of the current 20-something generation, it just an't there. As ain't mushrooms nor acid.

This change hasn't been because of government policy, which has been pretty incoherent, and I don't think youth mortality figures overall have changed much.

Recreationial drug use has its own dynamics, and I do not understand them to quite a significant degree.
posted by Devonian at 3:51 AM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


but now seems to have almost vanished

heh
posted by ominous_paws at 4:22 AM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


(did *not* know about the football match thing though, that is fantastic!)
posted by ominous_paws at 4:23 AM on October 7, 2014


Back in the 90s in the UK the established good practice was to consume isotonic sports drinks rather than water - these have some salts, so prevent some of the problems from drinking too much water. A quick Google suggests this is reasonable, so I post this because (1) it might be right, and so helpful (2) being Metafilter, if it isn't then someone will come along and correct me!
posted by alasdair at 4:30 AM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think statistics would show that it's actually parties that are dangerous, but who is willing to fight that evil?
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:57 AM on October 7, 2014


If there were any wisdom out there, there would be UNLIMITED FREE WATER at every dance/party event

Unlimited isotonic fluids would be a better idea, otherwise you risk dilutional hyponatremia from drinking too much water without replacing electrolytes.
posted by atrazine at 5:46 AM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


This article (part 2) shows that drinking sport drinks with added salt does not make enough of a difference when it comes to preventing hyponatraemia.
posted by blub at 5:55 AM on October 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


I suppose that Devonian's perception that MDMA use has declined in the U.K. is largely the effect of MDMA prohibition, meaning the kiddies still take MDMA but it's illegality ushered in more dangerous chemicals like Ketamine. And Londoners do so love their Ketamine today.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:32 AM on October 7, 2014


Cool Papa Bell You know the argument is poor when it divides people into "normal" and therefore "abnormal" groups.

I, in fact, don't know this.

MDMA toxicity isn't the cause for most deaths - it is hypothermia, etc., that kills people

The fall didn't kill you. It was the sudden stop. Therefore, we must abolish concrete.


I know you're being intentionally obtuse, but an accurate analogy would be: someone chokes on a turkey sandwich, and you claim they had a poultry overdose. Hyperthermia is not the same thing as a toxic overdose.
posted by spaltavian at 6:49 AM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Remember, kids ... Recreational drugs are dangerous because they're illegal!
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:10 AM on October 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


I had MDMA when it was legal in the 70s... I've done it perhaps a half a dozen times since, compared with the couple of hundred times I've done other psychedelics in that time.

Now, you can take a huge amount of acid, and you might not like what you see, but you won't die of it. You can take a huge amount of mushrooms - and you might feel really unwell, but you won't die of it. You can smoke pot until you feel nauseated but you won't die of that, either.

If you take a large amount of MDMA, you will overdose and die. LD50 isn't known for certain, but is likely around 10-20 mg/kg.

You can also die from hyperthermia or dehydration on much lower doses than that. Drinking water isn't a panacea - you can also die from overhydration.

Anecdotally from the rave scene, if you take E more than a few dozen times, it's really hard to get happy any other way.

MDMA is very promising as a therapeutic drug. Probably anyone who is interested in drug experiences should try it at least once in a controlled environment. I don't recommend it to people who want to go out and party because of the potential negative medical consequences.

It's certainly the case that more drinkers overdose and die from alcohol (or from "sudden stops" like aspirating vomit) than MDMA users - but is it true on a percentage basis? I don't think so.

Regardless, if we're going to do "better living through chemistry", why don't we use the drugs that are known to have extremely high LD50, like pot, acid, and shrooms? "No worse than alcohol" is not the gold standard...

(Of course, "harm reduction" should be the beginning and end of the authorities' interaction with our drug use. If you're an adult and want to take MDMA, you should be able to get a dosage of guaranteed purity and take it. The drug wars are the primary cause of the majority of deaths by illegal drugs...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:19 AM on October 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


This article (part 2) shows that drinking sport drinks with added salt does not make enough of a difference when it comes to preventing hyponatraemia.

That was really interesting. I was actually thinking of ORT type electrolyte concentrations but even those only have up to 90 mM sodium concentration (WHO recommendation) and most commercial ORT therapies have less.

That's still way less than isonatremic concentrations in humans, but 4-5 times that of gatorade.
posted by atrazine at 8:09 AM on October 7, 2014


Anecdotally from the rave scene, if you take E more than a few dozen times, it's really hard to get happy any other way.

That's not true.
posted by ryoshu at 8:40 AM on October 7, 2014 [6 favorites]


I am really surprised at the amount of "I knew a guy once...", "I just know MDMA is bad!", "A doctor told a friend it will kill you dead.", "MDMA is way worse than cheese!!!", etc in this thread, this is Metafilter, I honestly expected much, much better.

There are mefites whose comments I usually look forward to who are in this thread spreading FUD left and right with little to no actual data to support it.

Weird.
posted by Cosine at 9:23 AM on October 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


MDMA is way worse than cheese

though not as bad as cake.
posted by flabdablet at 9:51 AM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


I agree Cosine - it is a problem of decades of drug propaganda I suspect. I was recently discussing crystal meth with a friend who is, beyond any doubt, the smartest person I know, but even she could not get past the emotional/moral problems she was programmed to associate with the drug. There is no question that meth is bad and causes harm, but prohibition only exacerbates those harms. Decriminalization does little to alleviate the harms of prohibition because it still drives production and distribution into the black market. As stated we can reduce harm through dosage education and accurate formulation data, but our experience with Alcohol and Tobacco also shows us that we can also reduce harm through decreasing usage rates within a legal and regulated framework. The CDC Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows steep declines in usage of Alcohol (51% to 35%) and Tobacco (28% to 16%) from 1991 to 2013 while marijuana usage is up slightly and cocaine and heroin usage is basically flat. I wish for a day when the general public is capable of looking beyond the knee-jerk reaction to drug use and have a real debate about the most effective harm reduction policy, but I have very little hope. Marijuana is nearing legal status, but the debate separates marijuana from other illicit drugs, so it is disingenuous. Prohibition is prohibition, and exacerbates all the harms it seeks to mitigate - this is a simple truth that cannot be repeated to often.
posted by Colby_Longhorn at 9:54 AM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


There were a few drug-related deaths at music festivals across Canada this summer, some of which were preventable, probably. But, by far the most astonishing thing to me was that the reporting was talking about how kids were popping pills they had picked up off the ground. I mean, this whole abstinence only/prohibition philosophy, wherein we pretend that telling kids not to do drugs is enough, means no one is even telling them DON'T TAKE PILLS YOU FIND ON THE GROUND, for fuck sake.

My kid is in grade 6 and this is the year the school starts talking to them about drugs. I'm trying to pre-arm her with actual facts and ideas for harm reduction, because I have friends whose kids have gone through this curriculum and it is total bullshit.
posted by looli at 10:36 AM on October 7, 2014


Anecdotally from the rave scene....

but is it true on a percentage basis? I don't think so.


Welp, that's good enough for me. Case closed!

Here on Fact Planet, MDMA is actually responsible for very, very few deaths. There is a high margin between the recreational dose and lethal overdose so overdose is quite rare. Is it perfectly safe? Of course not. Plus there are the non-lethal side effects. But come on, if it were remotely as dangerous as you're making it out to be we would have seen an epidemic of problems given the hundreds of millions of doses people have taken in the last two decades.

You're right about the Drug War being the primary driver of harm, though.
posted by Justinian at 12:11 PM on October 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'd agree with lupus_yonderboy that harm reduction involves pushing partiers towards safer drugs like pot, LSD, psilocybin (shrooms), mescaline, maybe DMT, and away from drugs with stronger physiological effects like cocaine, meth, etc., partially due to better safety ratios. Just because hallucinogens appears extremely safe does not mean either that they could replace other highs like MDMA, etc., or even that everyone could partake. We might prefer ravers use LSD to MDMA, but we'd likewise prefer they use MDMA over ketamine. And good luck convincing the guy who does ketamine because he cannot have sex on MDMA.

Also, I'm suspicious that MDMA use benefits us culturally in that users become less violent, more compassionate, etc., but these nice behaviors translate into nicer behavior while sober as well. We might therefore prefer that partiers use MDMA over alcohol, which makes many people violent, even if MDMA actually has slightly worse physiological effects.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:54 PM on October 7, 2014


but we'd likewise prefer they use MDMA over ketamine

Er, why? Ketamine is very, very safe.
posted by Justinian at 1:09 PM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


I mean, you look like a total dumbass when you're on it but that's often true of MDMA as well. Fuckin' cuddle puddles.
posted by Justinian at 1:09 PM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


All the ketamine heads I've seen remained quite witty, so they only looked stupid if you sat them anywhere that required any balance, like say a chair without arm rests. Yup, high arm rests are absolutely critical for anyone doing ketamine. And probably an umbrella if outside where it might rain, assuming anyone present is coordinated enough to open it, otherwise you'll just look dumber sitting there in the rain with a closed umbrella.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:18 PM on October 7, 2014


I mean, this whole abstinence only/prohibition philosophy, wherein we pretend that telling kids not to do drugs is enough, means no one is even telling them DON'T TAKE PILLS YOU FIND ON THE GROUND, for fuck sake.

Back when I was a Ranger at Burning Man (more than 10 years ago), we were sacked out at HQ on the last day of Exodus when one of the Rangers who'd been working the exit road came back with a box in his hand. Apparently, some of the folks working Exodus had been reminding exiting Burners that Nevada was a zero-tolerance state, so, y'know, if there's anything you wouldn't want to get caught with by Nevada cops, you can drop it in this box here. Just providing a service…

I remember seeing a group of fairly-experienced folks clustered around the box, inspecting its contents. "That's weed, but who knows what's on it. This is a pill cut into quarters and wrapped in foil… uh, no. Whatever this stuff is, it's in a twist of paper labeled STRONG. Oh hell no."

If I remember correctly (which is far from certain), somebody chucked the box into the middle of a huge bonfire later that night to get it out of the way.
posted by Lexica at 9:36 PM on October 7, 2014 [3 favorites]




means no one is even telling them DON'T TAKE PILLS YOU FIND ON THE GROUND, for fuck sake.
Homer: I am so excited I couldn't fall asleep. I even took some pills I found on the floor and still nothing.
Apu: You took some pills you found on the floor?
Homer: Uh huh. Now I'm afraid that if I stop talking I'll die. Isn't Mick cool? I thought he'd be all like, "I'm a rock star. Aren't I great?" But he's just like you or me, or Jesus over there.
posted by Justinian at 11:35 PM on October 7, 2014


How the fuck is it so hard to remember that prohibition does not and will never work?

That rather depends on the definition of "works" now, doesn't it? If you consider the profitability of civil forfeiture and the creation of employment via prohibition-created jobs in law enforcement and imprisonment then maybe it works pretty darned well. For the most part it means we put brown people in jail all out of proportion with how many of them commit drug crimes vs us pale folk, which many of the pale folk, when polled, think makes it very appealing.

That there's some varied paleface deaths as collateral damage? Meh, the big interests who benefit politically as well as the big interests who don't want to share their existing profits are okay with that. They're helped by the fact that any change likely will have some short-term scary looking things happen and people will pounce on that.

So if you are in a political role where being perceived as "tough on crime" is good for you (everyone) and you can't support most forms of government employment/spending increases then you can get around that with prohibition efforts. Calling for 1,000 new IRS auditors will get you voted out of office. Calling for 1,000 new DEA agents likely will not. And because of the tough-on-crime thing it's hard for your political opponents to push back on you... if they even want to.

I sounds like I'm coming down with a bad case of randitus and it makes me want to take a shower, but this is an area where they and I tend to share a lot of ground. You cannot question why many folks would support this direction without considering the financial incentives.
posted by phearlez at 9:09 AM on October 8, 2014


phearlez: "You cannot question why many folks would support this direction without considering the financial incentives."

A very good point. Always follow the money.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 2:34 AM on October 9, 2014




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