By Martha Shardalow
Perhaps as proof that new club licensing laws are yet to solve the problem, last night a 16 year old boy was battling for his life in intensive care after taking what is understood to be the same lethal ecstasy tablet that killed 17 year old Regane Maccoll in Glasgow last month.
The 16 year old is said to be in a critical “but stable condition” in Monklands District General Hospital in Airdrie, after apparently consuming illegal drugs at a house party on Saturday night.
Tests have also been carried out on a 17-year-old boy also at the party in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, after both teenagers fell ill and were submitted to hospital.
Police Scotland have issued a statement confirming that they believe the drugs included ecstasy and “possibly” a Mortal Kombat tablet.
A spokeswoman for NHS Lanarkshire emphasised: “Anyone who has taken ecstasy – particularly the one described as Mortal Kombat, and who is feeling unwell, or who knows someone who has taken this type of drug in the past few hours, should attend or contact their local hospital for treatment and advice.”
This official stance has reminded people to avoid illegal drugs at all costs; a warning that users can never be certain of what precisely they are taking. This is especially directed at those taking ecstasy pills, which are often cut with multiple substances that are proving fatal.
The news comes after The Arches nightclub in Glasgow raised its minimum age admission to 21 last month. The venues decision came as a direct response to the “tragic events of 2nd February” when 17 year old Maccoll collapsed on the premises and later died in the Glasgow Royal Infirmary. Police later linked her death to the ecstasy-like ‘Mortal Kombat’ tablet – a distinctive red pill believed to be stamped with a dragon.
Today these warnings have been renewed with repeated vigour.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Livingstone of Coatbridge police office, said: “We are continuing to work with our partner agencies, including health officials and medical staff, in connection with this investigation. At this time our priority is to ensure that everyone who was at the house party is safe and well, and officers are carrying out extensive enquiries to trace everyone involved.”
“Further to previous warnings, I would again strongly advise people to avoid illicit drugs as their exact content is unknown and can contain dangerous chemicals. Users must be aware of these dangers and understand the devastating effect they can have.”
Dr Neil Howie, NHS Lanarkshire consultant in emergency medicine, restated the weight of an immediate response to flag up symptoms. “Early warning signs include a feeling of agitation and distress and it is important that people are seen as early as possible.”
As another week arrives with ecstasy pill-related illness forming headlines, fresh debate on Scotland’s Drug Policy is taking place across multiple forums. A Thousand Flowers bloggers urge the government to adopt a new approach based on education, decriminalization and the introduction of drug testing kits in order to “help save lives and turn the tide on dodgy pills.”
As this incident surfaces, a teenager has been arrested in connection with alleged drug offences. He is expected to appear at Airdrie Sheriff Court today.
These are undeniably testing times for Scotland’s recreational drug users and the appropriate way forward for UK drug policy remains uncertain.