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Party pills: few serious short term outcomes found

Media Release
20 December 2006

Party pills not harmless, but few serious short term outcomes found

Young people did not report many serious harmful adverse effects related to their use of legal party pills (LPPs) in a qualitative study undertaken by The University of Auckland.

The research, commissioned by the Ministry of Health, found LPPs are generally used by young people for their stimulant effects and to aid in socialising during group activities, such as at dance parties. Whilst there was evidence of some potentially harmful behaviour taking place with LPP use, such as taking them in combination with illegal drugs or large amounts of alcohol, no-one reported seeking medical treatment.

A number of negative effects were noted by users of LPPs, including raised heart rate, upset stomach, inability to sleep and a sore or dry mouth. There is also an associated unpleasant period as the effects of the pills wear off, where people can feel depressed, tired, unable to sleep, tense or edgy, and withdrawn. Participants reported no difficulties associated with reducing or stopping their use of LPPs. Interviewees working in drug treatment services reported few, if any, issues with young people and party pills.

The qualitative study interviewed 58 young people, recruited from a 16 to 24-old age group, and 21 key people from a range of environments including emergency departments, drug services, youth health and the party pill ‘industry’ on their opinions and experiences with young people’s use of party pills.

“Use of party pills is a common and legal activity in New Zealand”, says Associate Professor Janie Sheridan of the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, lead investigator on the study. “We found that the young people in our study, who were mainly in full time work or study, predominantly use party pills on a social basis, and acknowledge the negative effects of the drugs and particularly the unpleasant nature of the ‘comedown’. At the point where they feel unwilling to cope with these negative effects, they seem to have had no problems cutting down their use of party pills, and many do.

“We didn’t find many serious short term problems linked with their party pill use, although many experts do express concerns about long term effects - which are currently unknown. There, are however, varying levels of knowledge about how to use party pills more safely, and many young people experiment with their use, by drinking alcohol with them, or driving under the influence of party pills. We also found a lack of understanding about what the products contain.”


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