The prevalence of illicit drug use, especially MDMA (ecstasy) and other stimulants, is increasing. For example, recent studies among the younger section of the British population show that 54 per cent of 20- to 22-year-olds had been offered ecstasy at some time and 15 per cent had tried it at least once. Almost twice as many men as women had taken it.(9) In a study of over 3000 second-year university students in the United Kingdom, 13 per cent reported that they had tried MDMA. (10) The number of seizures of MDMA in the United Kingdom rose from 39 000 doses in 1989 to 1 564 000 doses in 1994, and the number of persons found guilty, cautioned or dealt with rose from 286 in 1990 to over 3500 in 1994. (l:!> Similar findings have been reported from Denmark,(1.2) Germany/13) Spain1) and The Netherlands1' among others. Australia1.* and America have also seen a rise in use the drug with prevalences of up to 25 per cent having been reported among students in the US.

An association between drug use and musical/subcultural preference has been recognized for many years: cannabis and heroin with jazz and blues, LSD with the 'hippie' movement, and amphetamine sulphate with the punk era.(17> MDMA is associated with the 'dance and club scene'. The particular association between stimulant drugs and the 'dance scene' can be partly explained by the energetic and prolonged dancing that accompanies such music. Stimulants may enhance enjoyment and ability to perform to such music.(l8)

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