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Saturday 20 July 2019
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Avoiding that Carnival high

Government doesn't want you taking ecstasy. National Security Minister Stuart Young warned of the pervasiveness of the party drug on Thursday at the post-Cabinet media briefing. Young worries that use of the drug "seems to be escalating," as he put it, based on increased seizures of the drug, said to be recovered by the thousands in police raids.

Ecstasy, properly methylenedioxymethamphetamine, and sometimes known as molly, is a synthetic drug with psychoactive properties that acts as a stimulant and induces psychedelic perceptual distortions. The lowered inhibitions and euphoria of the drug’s high are often followed by nightmares, panic attacks and mood swings.

Beyond concerns about the use of the drug and its possible side effects, which may also include severe depression, nausea and insomnia, there is the legitimate fear that there might be poorly made versions of the unregulated drug on the market that may affect users in extreme ways. This is perhaps the most sensible reason for avoiding the drug, even amid the temptations and urgent calls to physical abandon and release that characterise the Carnival celebrations.

Because ecstasy is not manufactured under normal drug controls and restrictions for a specific use, variants have been found to contain a range of additional ingredients, from those intended to increase its hallucinogenic qualities, such as LSD and cocaine, to rat poison and dog de-worming chemicals. Any specific instance of the drug’s design can be influenced as much by folklore as by workable chemical formulation.

Young also warned revellers, particularly women, to be careful about managing their drinks to avoid the possibility of them being spiked by rohypnol, a drug that's gained notoriety for its role in date rape cases. Rophynol (flunitrazepam) is available in some countries but banned in the US. It’s a tranquilliser prescribed for severe insomnia that’s ten times more potent than Valium. It is capable of incapacitating anyone dosed with it while leaving them aware of their circumstances. Memory can also be impaired after ingesting rophynol.

These are legitimate concerns at Carnival, when not every "high" sought by revellers comes from the soca beats that drive the festival. Drug use at any time is a cause for concern, but in an environment fuelled by alcohol, and the physical intimacy that's an integral part of Carnival, it's a wake-up call that's worth repeating.

For Carnival, partygoers and revellers should exercise care in all aspects of their participation the festival, monitoring drinks, ensuring that sealed bottles are opened in their presence and having a designated driver.

Someone should always be the adult in the lime.

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