She’s spent the day swimming in the ocean and lying by the hotel pool, surrounded by friends and celebrating Schoolies on the Gold Coast. Her wristband glows on her forearm as she dresses for a night of partying among the rest of the nation’s school leavers.
There are more pills than there have been in previous years. The drug MDMA is easy to buy. It’s cheap, retailing for between $20 and $30 a pill, according to the 2016 Global Drug Survey. The hangover reportedly isn’t as sickening as alcohol and it won’t make her tired.
Her friends have told her about the feelings of euphoria and body tingling that last several hours. But what she isn’t expecting – what no one has told her – is how her racing heartbeat will make her scared. How she’ll look around, wondering if people can see her chest pounding through her T-shirt. There is the anxiety that something is about to go terribly, horribly wrong. There is the increased body temperature, extreme thirst and the urge to vomit.
This year, twice as many female school leavers have been treated for intoxication and drug use than males at Schoolies on the Gold Coast, Seven News reports. On Sunday night, paramedics treated 95 people and transported two to hospital. On Monday night, it was 89 people treated on Cavill Avenue and six taken to hospital.
It’s only day four.
“Interestingly we have noticed that on both evenings so far the number of female patients we have had has doubled the number of male patients,” Queensland Ambulance Service special events co-ordinator Justin Payne told the Gold Coast Bulletin yesterday. “It’s a little bit concerning.”
According to Payne, MDMA is the drug of choice.
MDMA, also referred to as ‘Molly’, is a psychoactive chemical called 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine and can be taken in pills or as a powder. Ecstasy is MDMA pressed into a pill, usually alongside other substances.
In 2016, according to the Global Drug Survey, the world reached ‘peak’ MDMA.
There had never been more of the drug in circulation and the pills being sold were the strongest ever. Australia saw a 12.7 per cent increase in the use of MDMA between 2015 and 2016, as reported in the survey.
“At the moment, MDMA pills seem to contain one of the highest doses that they’ve ever contained,” one of the study’s co-authors, Dr Monica Barratt from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at UNSW, told ABC’s HACK last June.
“Some pills contain between 250 milligrams and 300 milligrams of MDMA. Novice users are more likely to come to harm by just taking one pill than they would have in earlier years – when pills tended to be 80 to 100 milligrams.”