Wild One Weekend, Brain-Dead the Next

The NDARC also reports that a little under half of the national sample were using ecstasy between bi-weekly and monthly, while 23 percent of those questioned used more than once a week.

Statistics of this variety have led to some troubling conclusions by the nation's drug experts.

"Certainly within some groups, popping a pill is considered to be on par to having a drink," Jennifer Johnston, an authority from the Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre in Melbourne, told The Australian newspaper.

Judging by current attitudes, trying to dispel the myths about ecstasy and minimize use will be a problem facing the Australian society for some time to come.

The biggest hurdle facing governments and researchers alike is how to convince a population of the dangers of ecstasy when very little evidence exists about long-term effects. The small number of deaths from ecstasy also means the drug is not frequently in the headlines.

But scientists are adamant that the drug represents a serious risk.

"If you simply look at the number of deaths it's small," says Allsop. "If you look at the potential impact on how well people will do in careers, the long term effects, the unknown effects, it's not worth taking the risk."

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