Mixmag Launch Lifesaver MDMA Campaign (interview)
“The message couldn’t be more simple: taking a small amount of ecstasy and waiting a couple of hours before re-dosing could save your life. Telling your friends ‘don’t be daft, start with a half’, could save their lives.” (Mixmag)
Leading electronic music magazine Mixmag have boldly advised ecstasy users to never take more than half an ecstasy pill at a time, in response to the growing number of drug deaths linked to super strong ‘ecstasy’ / MDMA pills increasingly prevalent in the UK.
Chatting to Skrufff this week, Mixmag editor Duncan Dick said they’re hoping their campaign will prompt artists and DJs and people in the industry to start passing on their ‘don’t be daft, start with a half’ image to both safe lives and help the broader nightlife community.
“Drug deaths and hospitalisations aren’t just a horrific tragedy for the people affected and their family and friends, they have a huge impact on clubs staying open and festivals going ahead, and ruin those great experiences of partying and dancing together that we all love,” said Duncan.
“We are not encouraging people to take drugs, we are talking to people who plan on taking drugs and asking them to consider taking less because many pills are nowadays dangerously strong,” he explained.
Leading drug expert Dr Adam R Winstock (a consultant psychiatrist & addiction medicine specialist who founded the Global Drug Survey) has also lent his full support to the campaign, in response to the emergence of individual pills containing 300MG and even a reported 400MG of MDMA.
“A dose of about 80mg of MDMA for most people (without tolerance and assuming average body weight) gives them the pleasurable effects of energy, euphoria and empathy, which outweigh the negative effects that become more common with bigger doses such as nausea, panic, paranoia, agitation and gurning,” Dr Winstock noted.
“Most people who use drugs are not idiots and don’t want to ruin their night or their lives. So the next time you get some MDMA be mindful of the fact that more MDMA might not be more fun. Less is more. Don’t be daft, start with a half,” he urged.
Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): Killer/ super-strength pills (300mg+) have been around for a while now (such as the ADE pills last year): why are you doing this campaign now?
Duncan Dick (Mixmag): “Basically because the Global Drug Survey has revealed that hospitalisations are on the rise and because testing services have found that these pills are so prevalent that they are starting to become the norm. And also because we are heart sick of reading about tragedies connected to the clubs and festivals that we love.
Perhaps most of all because of the lack of government harm prevention education over the past few years – which along with the rise of levels of MDMA is the main reason for what’s happening out there.
What exactly happened at Fabric recently, which has always had a superb record at keeping its customers safe, is unclear as yet, but it was the last straw,” (Fabric has been closed since last weekend following two suspected MDMA-related deaths of 18 year old clubbers).
Dr Adam R Winstock: “High dose pills in the UK have become increasingly common this year – they are part of the U.K. landscape not just occasional blips from the Netherlands and mainland Europe. These big doses of MDMA change the effect and risk profile so much we need to make sure people stay aware and are prepared.”
Skrufff: Why advise taking a half pill- surely at these strengths, urging people to try a quarter would be wiser?
Duncan Dick (Mixmag): “We were looking for an effective and memorable message to get the point across that doing a whole pill all at once in 2016 can be very dangerous. We realise that people take pills for the pleasurable effects and will do so anyway, and based on research available on amounts of MDMA, a half pill is a dose that will still have these effects while being less dangerous than a full pill. Doing a quarter is safer. Doing none at all is safest of all.”
Dr Adam R Winstock: “Most UK pills out there at the moment are between 80-180mg. So half this dose will give most people a taste of the buzz they are after and can for experienced users give them some idea what they have – even half of a 240mg pill would represent the high end of normal dose for some people. The campaign says think before you dose – I think many people won’t take it literally and may well take a 1/3 or 1/4.”
Skrufff: Do you have any concerns you could be personally prosecuted for encouraging drug use? (or Mixmag sanctioned- have you taken legal advice?)
Duncan Dick (Mixmag): “This is a harm reduction campaign and like all harm reduction campaigns it acknowledges that people are going to take these drugs anyway – and that prohibition and ‘just say no’ would probably have worked by now if it was ever going to. It’s not any more legally problematic than the advice that the government used to give as standard to clubbers about rest periods, rehydration etc.”
Dr Adam R Winstock: “None. We are helping people stay safe.”
Skrufff: What about the situation with Fabric being closed; how much do you believe clubs in the UK are facing an existential threat if current official attitudes remain?
Duncan Dick (Mixmag): “The idea that shutting down clubs like fabric and the Arches in Scotland will somehow eradicate the nation’s drug consumption is absurd. People will still take drugs and probably in an even more unsafe environment. Education campaigns like this one are, in my view, far more likely to prevent harm than scapegoating a venue or indeed an entire culture.
“Perhaps if the authorities worked towards building a society which required a little bit less escapism of a weekend then things would change but this campaign is an attempt to engage with the world as it is, not how we would like it to be.”
“I think the authorities should try to adopt the same attitude and pragmatism when it comes to regulating venues and events. In the meantime, clubbers have a personal responsibility to minimise their own risks not just for themselves but for the good of the scene as a whole, and they can’t do that without education.”
Click here for more on Mixmag’s campaign; http://bit.ly/2b6eoCy