NEWS

Ecstasy use rife in bars and clubs

Nikos is 20 and works in a large firm where he earns a good wage. He has plenty of friends, a satisfying personal life and gets on well with his parents. In other words, he has no problems. At least, that’s how it seems. Yet Nikos uses drugs regularly, mainly cocaine and ecstasy. «I would never take heroin,» he said, «but when I go out – just about every day, that is – I do a line or take ecstasy. It helps me have a good time, let myself go, get rid of the anxiety of work, and dance, of course,» he told Kathimerini. His case is resounding confirmation of the research that shows heroin use receding and giving way to use of cocaine and synthetic drugs, which have gradually become a big part of entertainment for young people in Greece. According to a recent Eurobarometer survey, 9 out of 10 Greeks aged 15-24 find it easy to get drugs at bars, clubs and parties. It was at a big club that Nikos first took ecstasy, four years ago. «There was a large group of us. Someone knew someone who knew someone else who sold the pills. So I tried it and ended up dancing till dawn. I tried cocaine the first time at a friend’s place. I kept using it, occasionally at first, then more often. «At one point, I thought I’d give it up because it was expensive but it was too hard. It’s always there in front of me. But I don’t think I’ve got a drug problem, that I’m addicted. Just like someone else who goes out and has couple of drinks, this is what I do.» Not harmless More and more young people all around Europe share his views. Every year, ecstasy gains more ground. Lately, it has started competing with amphetamines on the list of the most of widely used illegal substances in the European Union (after cannabis, which still tops the list). The growing use of ecstasy is related to a mistaken belief that it is a harmless substance. According to the annual report of the European Drug and Drug Addiction Monitoring Center in 2002 (the last year for which statistics are available), eight people lost their lives after using ecstasy in Germany, two died in France and one in Greece. Despite the ready availability of synthetic drugs in Greece and the EU in general, heroin is still the main drug abused by those who seek treatment. Of the drug users who apply to rehabilitation centers in Greece for assistance in beating their addition, 86.9 percent use heroin (there are estimated to be 20,000 heroin users in Greece), 9.7 percent use cannabis, 1.4 percent take sleeping pills and 1.1 percent use cocaine.