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Spotlight on E

Ecstasy is a fact of party life for some and the end-of-the-year gala is no exception. Harm-reduction groups in Australia, the U.S. and even in British Columbia test partiers' pills for dangerous adulterants.

It started as ordinary teenage partying on New Year's Eve, a night of too many drinks, lots of fun and stupid decisions. Dealers of recreational drugs were circulating freely in the downtown Toronto club and my roommate scored some complimentary "ecstasy" pills. But they didn't work like ecstasy pills. After I found her slumped in the bathroom and got her home and hydrated, she went manic, alternately cleaning and dancing in her bedroom well into the next day.

A friend directed me to, a website where recreational drug users post digital images of pills they have taken alongside detailed descriptions of the effects. Some users do basic chemical tests of pill contents and post the results online. We quickly found an image of the pills my roommate took turns out they were laced with speed (the common name for methamphetamines).

Ecstasy, or MDMA, is a psychoactive drug that typically induces feelings of euphoria, empathy, decreased inhibitions and an increased awareness of tactile and emotional experiences. It was originally developed as a diet aid and was used experimentally in clinical settings to help people in couples' counselling before becoming illegal. Today it is most often used at clubs and raves.

But back to my friend: thankfully, there was no major harm done. Had she been in Victoria, she might have escaped the ordeal altogether. That's because harm-reduction organizations such as Island Kidz offer free and anonymous pill testing at raves and clubs.

On any given weekend, volunteer Jessica Krippendorf, 30, and some friends pack their glow-in-the-dark bracelets, candy, condoms, flyers and bottles of chemical reactants, and head to a venue. Once there, they set up a booth and post their sign: Free pill testing. Then they wait for the lines to form.

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Tags : MDMA ecstasy
Posted on: 2006-12-29 11:33:16