- An increasing number of American youths who use the club
drug Ecstasy are mixing it with the anti-impotence drug Viagra, leading
drug-abuse specialists to warn about the health risks of a combination
that users say fuels all-night dancing and marathon sex.
- The combined drugs -- known in the club scene as ''sextasy''
-- began as a fad among youths in England and Australia. About a year ago,
officials of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration began hearing reports
that the mixture had become popular in this country's gay party culture.
- Now, drug-abuse analysts say, anecdotal reports from
across the USA indicate that sextasy has become one of the most recent
products of a dangerous trend: Young clubgoers taking ''cocktail pills''
that can include as many as a half-dozen drugs.
- Ecstasy, also known as MDMA, is a stimulant with hallucinogenic
properties. A U.S. government study in 2001 indicated that about 12% of
high school seniors had tried it. That was well less than the usage rate
for marijuana, but it represented a huge jump from 1998.
- Users in the club and rave scenes say it gives them the
energy to dance all night and enhances their senses. But Ecstasy also hinders
sexual function. To compensate, some young men take Viagra, a prescription
drug normally used to treat men who have decreased sexual function or who
are recovering from prostate cancer.
- Doctors warn that combining the two drugs can cause heart
problems or erections that don't subside for more than four hours, possibly
leading to anatomical damage. There have been scattered reports of such
injuries across the country, officials say.
- In Internet chat rooms that cater to those in the club
scene, talk of multiple-drug combinations -- particularly Ecstasy and Viagra
-- is becoming more common.
- This month, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police warned
about combination drugs. Anti-drug police units in Canada analyzed about
1,200 pills seized at clubs and raves, and found that fewer than one-fifth
contained one illicit drug -- in this case, Ecstasy.
- ''It's not uncommon to see a capsule, tablet or powder
with six different drugs,'' Cpl. Scott Rintoul of the RCMP says. The most
prevalent combination has been Ecstasy, methamphetamine, the anesthetic
ketamine and caffeine.
- ''There's a consumer population who wants meth with Ecstasy
and other drugs,'' Rintoul says. ''Now the drug dealers are responding
to consumer demands'' for Viagra.
- Drug-abuse specialists who work in Washington state say
youths there have told them about the popularity of sextasy pills. ''They
are stealing (Viagra) from their next-door neighbors,'' says Ellen Silverman,
a policy specialist at Washington state's Department of Social and Health