Ecstasy (MDMA) Alone Can Kill

December 8, 2003

If you believe that the drug Ecstasy cannot kill you, you would be wrong. Dead wrong. Ecstasy alone can kill.

Researchers studied the medical records of 202 people in England and Wales who died after taking ecstasy. In 17% of these people, no drug other than ecstasy was found in their systems (see graph on the left). More men (162; 80%) than women (40; 20%) died after taking ecstasy and almost half 93; 46%) of the victims were under the age of 25 years. Although it is unclear how these people died, ecstasy deaths may be caused by hyperthermia (high body temperature) or brain swelling.

Ecstasy has caused an alarming increase in the number of deaths in England and Wales from 1996 to 2002. From 1996 to 1997, there were only 12 ecstasy-related deaths. From 2001 to 2002, however, there were 72 ecstasy-related deaths (see graph below).

Further research is needed to identify how different drugs interact with each other to produce a potentially deadly chemical mixture.

For references and more information on MDMA, see:
  1. Schifano, F., Oyefeso, A., Corkery, J., Cobain, K., Jambert-Gray, R., Martinotti, G., Ghodse, A.H. Death rates from ecstasy (MDMA, MDA) and polydrug use in England and Wales 1996-2002. Human Psychopharmacology, 18:519-524, 2003.
  3. Ecstasy Infofax - from the National Institute on Drug Abuse
  4. Ecstasy and the Heart - Neuroscience for Kids

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