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Totally Fucked Up [Part 2]

Author: Jo Vraca
Thursday, 13 September 2001
So you've read the Rave Safe literature about what happens when we take an E and how you should cover the nozzle when you do bulbs so that pieces of metal don't embed themselves in your lungs but just how clued up are you about the effects of mixing drugs- What do you know about the effects and risks YOU take every time you take a pill, snort a line and munch on that tab all in the short space of a few hours-

Poly drug use (the use of multiple drugs at once) has increasingly become the norm, particularly at dance parties yet it is one of the most under-researched areas according to Paul Dillon. "The level of harm associated with [party drugs] is considered fairly low compared to heroin and alcohol abuse even though there is a risk." Reliable drug use reports are somewhat lacking. One of the last local research papers on the topic was completed back in 1997 in Perth and only featured input from 76 drug users. The findings of the report showed that just over two thirds of the respondents had used more than one drug at the event attended. Not exactly shocking news. Much of the research, such as the Perth report, is old and due to increasing numbers at dance parties over the past few years, possibly holds little relevance due to changing drug taking trends. That is, with the increase in numbers at dance parties, particularly those new to the scene, there's always the risk that people don't know what they're taking - as long as it feels good. I do remember the research that went into it all years back and imagine my disgust when I ask friends what E they've had and they reply "I dunno. I just took it." Where's the pleasure in that, I ask, albeit a little cynically.

But why are people caning it- Jason Gowlett from the Australian Drug Foundation explains: "I would say that what we are finding is that drugs are slowly increasing in their purity and strength and they're cheaper in price and easier to access. So when you start finding a substance that's easier to access and cheaper in price then it becomes within the means of more people to start using. Social values and social norms also change and there comes more tolerance to experimenting. Within peer circles, there's probably more tolerance to drug use than there was 20-30 years ago when you may have been a bit more of an outcast." That said, he agrees that it's difficult to reach any definitive answers about the effects of combing. "Pulling apart specifics on what happens if, say, you take amphetamines with alcohol and trying to get the combination is an extremely difficult thing to provide information on. The reason is that there are so many variables that have to be taken into consideration. With any substance, the effects are relying on the purity of the substance that has been taken and with the illegal drugs it's always very difficult to gauge what the purity is. Also the strength of the drug is again very difficult to gauge with illegal drugs. Then there are individual factors - body size, body shape, menstrual cycle - all these things can go into play on the drug's effect. Also the expectations of the user, their experience with the drug, environment."

And the net. While it is fast becoming the bible of super information, is it wise to treat its purported omniscience as gospel or can it be misconstrued- Is there simply too much information available where people are turning into self-styled chemists-

"If a drug was used in New York last week, people already know about it here and are on the look-out," says Dillon. "Some sites are pushed by prohibitionists and are useless because they don't look at the range of harms while others have a 'go for it' attitude. Young people need to wade through lots of information." Gowlett agrees: "The quality of the information [on the internet] can't be assured. Some of the information is quite potentially dangerous and some of it is quit useful. To find out what is useful would require a person to have a level of e