Ravers have been warned over a new wave of “super-parties with these drugs” that could result in a “perfect storm” of mass casualties.
Revellers attending the events are said to be taking high-strength MDMA – commonly known as Ecstasy – with purity levels not seen since the drug took off in the late 1980s rave scene. One drug counsellor said the class A drug, also referred to as ecstasy, had become so strong it was leaving students “walking around like glass” with comedowns lasting as long as four days.
The super-parties were said to have taken off across Britain’s universities last year and are now considered the norm for undergraduates, with students trying to outdo one another. Sometimes coming complete with club DJs and bouncers on the front door, the events have seen hundreds of people crammed into terraced student houses not designed to take the weight.
One student party in Manchester was so overloaded with people that the floor collapsed, leaving some of the guests crashing into the basement below. Organisers have also been known to block exits with sofas and mattresses to provide home-made sound proofing in a bid to prevent noise complaints.
On Tuesday (25 April), authorities in northeast England became so concerned about the craze they launched a multi-agency taskforce to tackle the phenomenon. Newcastle City Council, which says it has dealt with 136 of the events in the past eight months, has joined forces with Northumbria police, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and the North East Ambulance Service.
They collaborated to produce a series of videos highlighting the dangers of super-parties, sharing the clips with students on social media. This messages from drug counselling service Lifeline, which says students, many from privileged backgrounds, are now turning to them for the first time with problems relating to MDMA. Claire Dean, a Lifeline spokeswoman, said there had been a huge increase in use of the drug, which was now “the strongest available in two decades”.
“For the first time we are having people coming to us with problems relating to MDMA; we have never seen that before,” she said. “It is a danger to promising student careers. These drugs in the strength we are now seeing have a four-day comedown period; these kids are walking around like glass, unable to function.”