Science & Tech

The strange reason why Brexit may be making recreational drugs more dangerous

The prominent scientist has previously spoken out against Brexit
The prominent scientist has previously spoken out against Brexit
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A new study has found that Brexit combined with Covid-19 lockdowns and overseas regulatory changes have contributed to a more dangerous MDMA market in the UK.

Scientists discovered that nearly half of substances sold as ecstasy at three festivals last year did not actually contain MDMA. Rather they contained synthetic cathinones and caffeine which contributed to feelings of "excessive stimulation, paranoia, insomnia, and nausea."

MDMA, otherwise known as ecstasy, is a recreational drug associated with clubs and nightlife. It is the second most commonly used stimulant in the UK.

The study was produced in collaboration with drug checking service The Loop, scientists in the Department of Sociology at the University of Liverpool, and scientists in the School of Chemistry at Cardiff University.

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From 2019 to 2021, researchers collected MDMA substances sold at festivals and tested its contents. In the two years, the detection of ecstasy declined from 93 percent to 55 percent.

The "unprecedented shift in the quality of UK ecstasy" can be attributed to Brexit which caused changes in currency exchange across European border. The change "may have incentivised mis-selling, as substitute drugs can be sold at higher profit margins than MDMA."

Additionally, Covid-19 lockdowns may have forced suppliers to stop MDMA production due to the lack of nightlife but as clubs reopened the demand skyrocketed leading some to make fake drugs.

In 2019, a study from public health researchers indicated that Brexit would negatively impact the UK's ability to monitor illicit drug use. In the article, scientists urged the UK to account for "the importance of European networks for surveillance and action on criminal and drug related activity" and implored the country to continue participating in Reitox.

Reitox network of national focal points is designed for EU countries to collect data and report on drugs and drug addiction.

However, the UK ceased to be a member of the Reitox beginning January 2021.

For now, The Loop is recommended all festival and partygoers to be cautious when buying ecstasy.

If you or someone you know is suffering from drug addiction, you can seek confidential help and support 24-7 from Frank, by calling 0300 123 6600, texting 82111, sending an email or visiting their website here.

In the US, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration can be reached at 1-800-662-HELP.

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