Pubdate: Mon, 03 Jul 2000
Source: Times, The (UK)
Copyright: 2000 Times Newspapers Ltd
Contact:  PO Box 496, London E1 9XN, United Kingdom
Fax: +44-(0)171-782 5046
Author: Helen Rumbelow, Medical Reporter


One in eight of the half-million young tourists going to Ibiza this summer 
will take Ecstasy nearly every night of their stay, according to new research.

It also found that more than a quarter have unprotected sex and a quarter 
have sex with more than one partner during their trip.

The study is the first evidence of the extent of drug use on the Spanish 
island, which was dubbed the "Gomorrah of Europe" after the British 
vice-consul resigned two years ago in disgust at the behaviour of its 
British visitors.

Professor Mark Bellis, whose team from Liverpool John Moores University 
conducted the study, said that tour operators, clubs, and the Ibiza 
authorities should do more to educate young people about the drug risks.

His research in the International Journal of Drug Policy shows that 
thousands of young people go on fortnight-long drugs binges, despite the 
fact that the effect of Ecstasy in such high concentrations is, as yet, 
unknown. Nearly one in ten of them went to hospital or saw a doctor while 
in Ibiza.

Foreign Office figures show that last year one British tourist died from 
drugs use in Ibiza, and drug-related arrests rose to 44, compared with 30 
in 1998.

Professor Bellis said: "Already, holidays in Ibiza and other such nightclub 
resorts around Europe have been booked by young people for the year 2000. 
We have no idea what the health costs of using Ecstasy like this might be, 
especially as some are also using other drugs with it."

He surveyed nearly 1,000 people at Ibiza airport as they prepared to return 
to Britain, with a median age of 20 for men, 19 for women. More than a 
third had taken Ecstasy on their holiday. Half of those using Ecstasy on 
the island used it five nights or more a week, with an average of two 
tablets a night.

A high percentage also used cannabis, LSD and cocaine most nights, while 90 
per cent got drunk nearly every night.

John Ramsey, head of toxicology at St George's Hospital Medical School, 
London, said that Ecstasy caused more brain damage if the body was not 
allowed to recover between doses. He said: "Brain damage in animals can be 
caused more readily if they are given higher doses of Ecstasy and if you 
repeat the dose more frequently. Young people are very ill-advised to use 
it every week, let alone every day."

Mike Linnell, from Lifeline, the drug information service, said he felt 
that the survey's figures for repeat usage of Ecstasy were low. He said 
colleagues educating young people in Ibiza about the risks of drugs found 
many took drugs for the first time on holiday, due to their easy availability.

Kevin Skeavington, 18, from Mansfield, died after falling from a 
third-floor balcony at the Hotel Honolulu near Magaluf, Majorca.
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