ER Visits from Ecstasy Jump 75% from ’04 to ’08

A new national study indicates that the number of hospital emergency visits involving the illicit drug Ecstasy increased from 10,220 in 2004 to 17,865 visits in 2008 – a 74.8 percent increase. According to this new study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) most of these Ecstasy-related visits (69.3 percent) involved patients aged 18 to 29, but notably 17.9 percent involved adolescents aged 12 to 17.

Ecstasy use can produce psychedelic and stimulant side effects such as anxiety attacks, tachycardia, hypertension and hyperthermia. The variety and severity of adverse reactions associated with Ecstasy use can increase when the drug is used in combination with other substances of abuse — a common occurrence among Ecstasy users.

This SAMHSA study indicates that 77.8 percent of the emergency department visits involving Ecstasy use also involve the use of at least one or more other substances of abuse. Among Ecstasy-related emergency department cases involving patients aged 21 or older 39.7 percent of the patients had used Ecstasy with three or more other substances of abuse.

“The resurgence of Ecstasy use is cause for alarm that demands immediate attention and action,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. “The aggressive prevention efforts being put into place by SAMHSA will help reduce use in states and communities, resulting in less costly emergency department visits related to drug use.”

Emergency Department Visits Involving Ecstasy was developed as part of the agency’s strategic initiative on data, quality and outcomes. It is based on data from SAMHSA’s 2004 – 2008 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) reports. DAWN is a public health surveillance system that monitors drug-related hospital emergency department visits reported throughout the nation. A copy of the report is accessible at:


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