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E Users Quit By Themselves ::

Reported by Ben Stroud on October 31, 2008

A new study of Dutch ecstasy users has recommended that providing consistent harm reduction messages is the best way to protect young people, after noting that few users quit the drug because of health concerns.

“During use, users applied a host of harm reduction strategies, albeit inconsistently and sometimes incorrectly,” researchers Gjalt-Jorn Y Peters, Gerjo Kok and Herman P Schaalma noted in a study published in the BMC Public Health journal.

“Most users appeared to cease ecstasy use automatically because of loss of interest or changing life circumstances (e.g. a new job or relationship),” they added.

The reseachers reached their conclusions after interviewing a small (statistically insignificant) sample of 34 users and failed to mention whether users were switching to other drugs such as cocaine. However, as long ago as 1999, researchers from Britain’s Institute for the Study of Drug Dependence reported the trend in a much bigger survey of 350 recreational drug users, half of whom admitted using coke.

“Cocaine may be becoming a popular choice for young drug users in the capital, who worry about the quality and dangers associated with ecstasy and who regard amphetamines as a poor substitute," the British researchers told the Independent.

The finding was repeated in a study by the UK Drug Policy Commission published last year which suggested cocaine ‘may have come into fashion among (young) people as ecstasy reduced its perceived quality’, though this week a new study said coke could soon lose its ‘quality’ cache’.

Britain’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) noted that the once exclusive drug is increasingly being sold in £25 (€30) wraps, though is cut with dangerous chemicals including gumb numbing chemical lignocaine and boric acid (also used to kill cockroaches).

"Five years ago, most of the street cocaine we seized had a purity of around
50%," SOCA director Rob Wainwright told the BBC. "But we're now finding a lot that is of far lower quality - some barely 10% pure. The danger is that drug dealers are cutting cocaine with other, often quite dangerous, chemicals to make it go further."

The perils of cocaine addiction were further emphasized by movie star Gary Busey, 64, this week, who recounted sniffing coke off his dog after the canine had inadvertently rolled in a dropped stash.

"You get little bugs, you get little hairs, you get grease and goo from the ground - the “Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas” star told US TV show Access Hollywood, “it's not at all a healthy thing to do.” (Dutch ecstasy findings)

Jonty Skrufff (