The Centers for Disease Control and Protection -- known as the CDC -- in a recent weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report (cheery title for a newsletter) told the tale of a RAVE held in Los Angeles on New Year's Eve at which 18 people wound up in the emergency department (ED) and one died as a result of taking Ecstasy.
A RAVE, for the gray hairs reading this post, is an all night, all out dance party, often (but not always) facilitated by drugs and alcohol, particularly Ecstasy. About 45,000 people were at this RAVE so the numbers affected may seem small -- but not if it is you, a friend or a loved one. This RAVE was commercially produced and happened in a rented facility owned by the City of Los Angeles, LA County and the state of California. Did the rental help the government's budget problems? I don't think so.
Ecstasy is a synthetic amphetamine that causes intense arousal and hallucinations. Among scientists it is known as MDMA, not worth spelling out. But with the bodies piling up in west coast EDs and a morgue it is worth talking about. The LAPD had officers stationed at the RAVE, there were undercover narcs and lots of EMTs and ambulances so maybe that helped. But still the scene was sufficiently loaded with intoxicants that 30 people were transported to EDs where 14 were confirmed by blood testing to have taken MDMA. The MDMA was liberally mixed with alcohol, marijuana and prescription medications (which is not to say prescribed medications).
MDMA poisoning is no fun. You become very agitated, the blood in your arteries feels like it is boiling, your heart pounds and your muscle cells break down causing a lot of pain -- not to mention you are also hallucinating. If you become really sick you can progress to seizures, kidney or liver failure and may need dialysis - as did some who spent New Year's Day in the hospital. The person who died, previously perfectly healthy, had gone home to continue partying and added heroin to the ecstasy and cocaine knocked down at the RAVE.
While this is nothing to rave about, I thought you might want to know. Prevention starts with information. Partying with friends is one thing, going for the moon is another. Do you want your party pal crazed and toxic and maybe dead? Friends take care of friends. Friends are the best protection against another party like the one LA had.
The opinions expressed herein are solely my own as a psychiatrist and public health advocate. Lloyd I Sederer, MD
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