The Princeton RCMP are warning people about the party-drug ecstasy after a recent rash of deaths in B.C. from overdosing.
Nineteen people have died after taking ecstasy in B.C. in the last seven months. Many of the deceased, aged 14 to 37, also had PMMA in their systems. Police believe the ecstasy was laced with the stimulant during its manufacture.
PMMA, or paramethoxy-methamphetamine, hasn’t been found in ecstasy in B.C. previously, but traces have been spotted in people who have died from the drug in Alberta.
Princeton is along a main route from the Lower Mainland to the Okanagan and the Kootenays, said Princeton RCMP Const. John Leach, who co-ordinates the town’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program.
Drugs can even be transported through the backwoods near Princeton on ATVs and sleds.
Just because ecstasy may not be manufactured in Princeton, doesn’t mean it’s not available in town, Leach said.
“There are no borders for drugs – they go from town to town, country to country.”
Ecstasy – often referred to as a party, recreational or designer drug – causes a “rush” feeling followed by a feeling of calm with a heightened perception of colour and sound.
But the stimulant drug can cause high blood pressure, faintness and panic attacks. More severely, it can result in loss of consciousness, seizures and a drastic rise in body temperature.
Overdoses are the result of heart failure or extreme heat stroke.
Leach said he has heard people try to minimize the risks associated with drugs like ecstasy.
“It’s addictive – drugs are all addictive. Even prescription drugs used improperly can be very, very harmful.”
The main ingredient in ecstasy is MDMA, but it is impossible to know what else is in it, Leach said.
“There are more and more forms and variations of ecstasy. A lot of chemicals are put in to make it more addictive.”
Drug makers add PMMA in ecstasy as cheap filler, police have reported.
The pills are made in bright colours with characters on them to look appealing, Leach said. Logos, cartoons and small sayings have all been spotted on the drug.
It’s important to remember drug dealers are out to make money, not ensure the people they deal to don’t overdose or die, he said.
“One-time usage can be damaging. People think you have to use it over and over, but that’s not the case.”
Leach teaches Princeton students about the harmful effects of drugs, some of which can be life-long.
Ecstasy can cause long-term damage to brain areas that are critical for thought and memory.
But it’s not only the health affects Leach is warning about.
“All of a sudden, you need that drug. To get that drug you need money, so this leads to other criminal offences like break-and-enter or robbery to support your habit.”
For more information on the effects of ecstasy visit the Health Canada website.