Ecstasy use sky high with young Australians

Published: 12 September 2016


The stimulant drug ecstasy is making a comeback in Australia, according to a new report by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.

The report found the use of the drug is growing year by year, with 60 per cent of users moving towards the higher-purity crystal form of the drug.

The ecstasy market suffered a blow in 2010-11 due to a lack of purity and supply, but it has since recovered.

The Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS) surveyed regular users and researched police and customs seizure data to determine its results.

Senior researcher Amanda Roxburgh said: “Participants in our survey, the longest running in Australia, first mentioned use of crystal ecstasy in 2012. Since then we have seen a steady year-on-year increase in the reported use of crystal ecstasy.”

“While pills are still the most common form reportedly used, the increasing popularity of ecstasy crystals appears to be linked to their increased purity.”

During the music festival season last summer there were six deaths from drug overdoses, with many more hospitalisations.

Two young revellers, 19-year-old Stefan Woodward and 25-year-old Sylvia Choi died after taking ecstasy at the dance music event Stereosonic in 2015.

Ms Roxburgh said the increased use of the purer form of the drug was concerning.

“As the crystal form of ecstasy is relatively new we are still gaining information about how users respond to it,” she said.

“It is reasonable to assume that increase purity, coupled with uncertainty around the amount of the drug being taken, increases risks.”

The average age of the participants in the survey is 23, with about half saying they take ecstasy in pubs and nightclubs, and 14 per cent saying they take it at live music events and festivals.

About 2.5 per cent of Australians, or about 1 in 40, have taken ecstasy in the last 12 months, according to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey.