26 September 2023

Health issues warning on party drug dancing

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NSW Health has issued a warning on the risks of taking MDMA (ecstasy) following a number of patients admitted to hospital following a music festival in Sydney.

Medical Director of the NSW Poisons Information Centre, Dr Darren Roberts said a panel of toxicology experts determined that MDMA was the cause of toxicity in these patients.

“No contaminants or other substances were detected in the patients’ toxicology testing, meaning there is no evidence of a ‘bad batch’ as the cause,” Dr Roberts said.

“Consumption of MDMA can cause serious illness, which may include severe agitation, raised body temperature, seizures or fits, heart rhythm problems and death,” he said.

“While one MDMA tablet or capsule alone can cause some people to experience toxicity, the risk of serious toxicity is much greater if multiple tablets or capsules of MDMA are consumed over a short period, or if MDMA is consumed in combination with other stimulants.”

Dr Roberts warned that the amount of MDMA in a tablet or capsule could vary substantially even in the same batch, with seizures by NSW Police in 2022 finding the amount varied by up to 20-fold.

He said high temperatures at the music festival on 11 February were also likely to have contributed to the high number of critically unwell patients.

“Taking a break from dancing, seeking shade if it’s sunny and drinking water are important measures to reduce the risk of overheating at festivals,” the Medical Director said.

“It is very important to remember, if you or a friend has taken drugs and feel unwell you won’t get into trouble for seeking medical care,” he said.

“If you feel unwell, or if a friend feels unwell, please seek help immediately.”

Further information about staying safe at festivals, including the warning signs to seek help, can be accessed at this PS News link.

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