Gardai say more certain to die from lethal cocktail of drink and drugs
AN INCREASING trend of mixing alcohol with drugs is having a potentially lethal effect on young revellers.
When drugs such as ecstasy first hit the dance scene, users often chose to avoid alcohol altogether.
But gardai are now warning that users are mixing cocaine, ecstasy, alcohol and other drugs, with dangerous consequences.
The chances of a cardiac arrest are increased twentyfold if someone mixes cocaine and alcohol, according to experts.
Mixing drugs -- known as polydrug use -- claimed the lives of two young men who died after last weekend's Swedish House Mafia concert at Phoenix Park in Dublin, according to initial toxicology tests.
Senior gardai have warned more deaths will almost certainly follow if users continue to consume either a mixture of drugs or combine one drug with alcohol.
Studies by experienced officers have shown that most deaths arising from concerts and parties are a result of mixtures -- usually a combination of cocaine and ecstasy with alcohol, or a variety of pills.
The two Phoenix Park victims both suffered cardiac arrest. Lee Scanlon had taken a combination of ecstasy and cannabis, while Shane Brophy used a mix of cocaine and ecstasy.
"Our biggest fear at the moment arises from polydrug use, with young people trying out depressants and synthetic highs," one officer told the Irish Independent last night.
"Many of these substances are dangerous on their own but, when they are mixed, the risk to life increases significantly."
He said drinkers who use cocaine are likely to consume more alcohol than normal because they are on a high, and are no longer aware of their limits.
The consequences can be lethal. Mixing alcohol with ecstasy can also be fatal as a result of severe dehydration.
Both alcohol and ecstasy, when taken on their own, can lead to depleted body fluids. Mixing them places greater strain on the liver and kidneys and this can cause excessive dehydration and overheating.
Gardai warned that with the majority of drugs, it was impossible to know the exact ingredients, as they are usually manufactured or grown illegally. They can often contain other substances, which increases profits for the traffickers.
"This means that if you use an illicit drug, you have no real way of knowing what you are using," one officer said. "The result from mixing drugs can be very unpredictable and sometimes fatal," he said.
Even the most common ecstasy ingredient, MDMA -- also known as the love drug because of its euphoric effect -- can be fatal. One music festival fan died last year after taking a single tablet, while half a tablet proved fatal for a young girl enjoying a night out in a club.
Last year, gardai seized 102,000 MDMA tablets, worth more than €800,000 on the streets. Unpublished figures for the first six months of this year show gardai have seized 60,000 tablets.
Gardai are also concerned that a new substance -- known as PMA or PMMA -- which has claimed several lives in the UK in the past year, is likely to make an appearance here shortly.
Rumours abounded that PMA, or pink ecstasy, had been freely on sale at Phoenix Park last week. But officers said they had no evidence yet that is was available here.
At one stage ecstasy was being sold openly in some pubs and clubs, but a series of operations by the garda drugs unit disrupted the traffickers' activities.