Last week we looked at ways of reducing the harm associated with cannabis use. Party season is almost upon us -“ hard to believe that Sleaze Ball is this weekend -“ and this week we thought we’d look at some practical ways of reducing the harm associated with ecstasy use. As with all drugs, there are a range of harms linked to the use of ecstasy and the best way to avoid these is not to use. For some, this is simply not a realistic option and for those people it is important that we provide them with ways of reducing the harm associated with their drug use.

Possibly the greatest harm linked to ecstasy is that it is an illegal drug and as a result if you get caught with it in your possession your life can change forever. One of the most important things to remember is that you only have to have a very small number of pills on you to be charged with supply. It is not based on number but the weight of the illicit substance contained within the pills. There have been cases where people have been charged with supply carrying as few as 3 pills. The message is simple: if you are going to take ecstasy, carry as few pills on you as possible and never carry anybody else’s drugs. Having somebody else’s drugs on your person is no excuse if you get busted -“ in fact you are more likely to be charged for supply if you admit to that.

Dehydration and overheating continue to be two of the greatest risks associated with ecstasy. Ensuring that you keep hydrated through your entire ecstasy experience (before you take the drug, during intoxication and in the days following) will reduce the risk of dehydration. Alcohol dehydrates as well, so it is a good idea to avoid drinking anything alcoholic if you have taken a pill. If you have to drink, make sure you do so moderately. Overheating can be avoided by taking regular breaks during dancing or whatever activity you are involved in and monitoring yourself -“ when you cease activity check that your heart rate returns to normal quickly.

Protect yourself mentally. We are finding out more and more about the psychological problems associated with ecstasy and related drugs. If you’re feeling down or have a history of depression it is best to avoid using ecstasy. If that’s not an option for you, make sure you’re prepared for the experience. Spend five minutes in the days before you take an E to write down why you’re taking the drug and a reminder to yourself that you may not feel the best in the coming days. When you start to feel like the world is crumbling around you, have a quick read of the note to remind yourself of why you feel the way you do. Also ensure that you have support ready in the days after you take a pill.

These are just a few simple ways that you can reduce some of the risks associated with ecstasy use. If abstinence is not for you perhaps some of these tips which involve small changes in behaviour may be helpful.

Remember: if you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug, and no matter how many times you have used a substance, never be blas?

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