March, 1999


Why Girls Are Saying Yes To Ecstasy

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  • Medical facts about Ecstasy
    Youth, as they say, is wasted on the young. And nowhere is this more apparent than the Klang Valley, a giant ecstasy pimple filled with poor little rich girls.

    "College is the best thing that can ever happen to you..."

    Jennie's father used to say, and he was right, for it was there that she discovered drugs, drinking and smoking.

    Among other things, Jennie Luo, a pretty bio-molecular student, had a desire to test the city limits. Unfortunately she had a nasty run-in with ecstasy inthe early hours of October 4, 1998, when she not only lost her bowel control and much of her speech, but fried her brains out as well.

    Sick, gibberish and delirious, the 18-year-old had been slithering around on the floor during a college rave party for hours. Minutes past midnight, someone happened to glance downwards and caught her patiently sucking on a shard of broken glass. Panic-striken at the sight of exposed flesh, the senior rushed to summon an ambulance. Many of those who were sober stepped aside, unwilling to get involved with the bleeding stranger, while those fueled on ecstasy boogied on hardly skipping a beat.

    At the hospital, bleary-eyed doctors struggled to save Jennie's life, as she thrashed and complained of hearing heavy voices in her head. Wheeling past the swingdoors and into a curtained cubicle, doctors feverishly worked to quell her madly whirling mind. They fed her a cocktail of benzodiazepines, anti-psychotic medication ordinarily reserved for patients with violent psychiatric problems.

    By the time dawn broke, the strange girl with expensive clothes and shredded lips lay still and silent behind the curtained berth. The doctors rubbed their eyes, feeling tired and wrecked. The shift over; they washed up and went home. It was another typical weekend...

    According to hospital records, Saturday nights are the pits. Nearly every weekend in the Klang Valley sees someone's daughter hospitalised with drug-addled injuries. Doctors in major city hospitals have doubled in numbers, as a continuous stream of victims arrive from the city's rave dance scene throughout the night.

    Young girls number among the highest casualties of those who take ecstasy and land themselves in hospital beds. "All my cases are girls," moans Professor Hussain Habil, an addiction specialist and consultant psychiatrist for Kuala Lumpur's University Hospital. "It's an extraordinary riddle, something that's shared by doctors throughout the city."

    Professor Hussain is serious about this. His appalling point is confirmed by urban hospitals, which report that girls make up nearly 100 percent of victims. Where are the boys? Are they immune? Answers given by doctors appear offhanded -- among the medical fraternity, there's a much-raggled joke that goes: "Boys go straight to the mortuary", which is a bizarre conclusion to make and one that reflects an attitude of surrender. Boys, as we all hope, go straight home to bed.

    According to the jaded and not-too-amused emergency staff, female cases that arrive from rave scenes are divided into 'drug abuse' or 'suicide attempt'. A medic unloads the dying and impaired victim, scribbles onto an option form, clips it to the stretcher and tries to wrangle a home contact number from the jittery patient.

    "They come in sick to their stomachs, shivering and talking nonsense. Many of them are extremely paranoid about being touched or spoken to," Hussain says, adding that the worst case he's ever seen on a weekend is self-mutilation by a girl who was clearly out of her mind.

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