Pubdate: Tue, 11 Jul 2000
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2000 The London Free Press a division of Sun Media Corporation.
Author: Mary-Jane Egan, Free Press Health Reporter


Emergency room doctors need a new weapon in their medical arsenal
today -- knowledge of the rave scene and the drugs associated with it,
a London doctor warns.

Dr. Michael Rieder, section head of pediatric clinical pharmacology at
Children's Hospital of Western Ontario, says ravers -- who dance all
night to computer-generated music -- present unique challenges if they
fall victim to a drug overdose.

While not all ravers use drugs, the drugs associated with the rave
culture can produce fatal side-effects, aggravated by severe
dehydration caused by the physical exertion of all night dancing,
Rieder said.

Quick intravenous rehydration may be called for, he said.

Rieder, who wrote an article on the medical implications of rave
culture in the last edition of the Canadian Medical Association
Journal, said the long-term impact of rave drugs is poorly documented
because the drugs are so new.

Commonly used rave drugs include methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA),
also known as ecstasy; ketamine and "new kid on the block" --
gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), notorious as a "date rape" drug.

Rieder said since the drugs are illegal and many cause delirium, users
are "less than completely candid" about what they've ingested in the
event of overdose.

"Emergency doctors always have to be on the edge of new developments
in substance abuse," he said. "In the '50s, it was booze and
barbiturates. In the '60s and '70s it was LSD. The problem with these
new chemical compounds is they're entering the market so rapidly, we
don't know the long-term effects."

While large centres like Toronto are a greater magnet for raves,
Rieder cautioned they occur even in small rural centres, meaning
doctors in those areas must also be schooled in rave culture.

And he said emergency room doctors need to ensure patients suffering a
rave drug overdose get followup care -- including examination if
there's strong suspicion a sexual assault occurred.
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