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Study shows hard drugs link to the rave scene
by Jenny Booth, Home Affairs Correspondent
Jun 3, 1997
The Scotsman, Edinburgh UK
[ Erowid Note: This is a fairly sensationalist article on the use of "hard" drugs in the rave scene. It should be noted this article contains a fair amount of exaggeration and sensationalist language.]

THE dance scene is leading youngsters into the use of hard drugs, a survey has found.

Many in the ecstasy-fuelled rave scene are tempted to experiment with other illegal drugs - with more injecting heroin as a way of coming down from their ecstasy high.

Workers at the Calton Athletic drug rehabilitation centre in Glasgow have also warned that ecstasy's role as a "love drug" may be building up to a sexually-transmitted epidemic of HIV and hepatitis C among young dancegoers.

The survey, by Glasgow University's Centre for Drug Misuse Research, found that among a random sample of 135 young people at dance events 78 per cent had taken LSD and 58 per cent cocaine in the past 12 months.

A more predictable 87 per cent had taken ecstasy. In addition, 95 per cent had used cannabis, 39 per cent had taken temazepam and 11 per cent had taken heroin, all used as post- rave "downers".

"I find the figures very shocking," said Dr Neil McKechnie, of Glasgow University, who presented the research findings at yesterday's Scottish Drugs Forum seminar in Stirling. "This is the first time we have seen quantitative data on levels of different drug use at dance events and it shows that drug misuse certainly isn't confined to ecstasy at such events, as is usually assumed.

"We are seeing significant use of drugs that in the past have been associated with quite different groups of people and different forms of problematic as opposed to recreational drug use, like heroin, LSD and temazepam."

Andrew Horne, the project manager at Glasgow Drug Crisis Centre, said that problems with heroin use in the Scottish rave scene had been on the rise since the prescription drug temazepam was made less widely available last year.

"The death rate from temazepam has dropped significantly, but we are concerned that young people are turning to heroin instead to come down after a rave," said Mr Horne. "The problem is that heroin is not a drug that is easily contained. Very few heroin users just take it recreationally at weekends."

Mickey McGonagle, the music editor of the dance and club culture magazine M8, said stories of the rise of heroin were "grossly exaggerated".

"Most people would take a jelly [temazepam] or smoke lots of hash to come down," Mr McGonagle said. "I have never come across anyone taking heroin. It might be smoked as a downer among a very small minority of people.

"Taking ecstasy is, of course, not safe at all because you don't know what you are getting - there could be anything in it. You make it safer by following the safe dance guidelines of drinking water, staying cool and taking rests."

Archie McCormick, a worker at Calton Athletic, hit back, saying water would not prevent drug-takers from "frying their brains or getting infected". He said: "Ecstasy is called the love drug, so everyone is sleeping with one another. A few are infected and they are giving one another HIV and hepatitis C.

"We are seeing more and more people coming through the door with hep C, which is probably a smokescreen for HIV."

Like Glasgow Drug Crisis Centre, Calton Athletic was seeing young heroin addicts who had got started on hard drugs through the rave scene,

"It starts as a lot of fun, but before you know it drug-taking is a necessity just to feel normal," he said.

Dr McKechnie said the findings showed Scotland had to take the issue of schoolchildren dabbling in drugs more seriously. A survey in Dundee showed that 51 per cent of 16- year-olds had tried cannabis.

"We must make the connection between those who are kids now who may grow up to join the dance scene and take up much wider patterns of drug use. That fact should make us much more cautious about describing schoolchildren's drug use as recreational."