As festival season gets into full swing, dance music lovers are being warned that the strength of some ecstasy pills and MDMA has increased massively.
The warning, from the HSE, follows the deaths of two young people who took drugs at a festival in England last weekend.
An 18-year-old woman and a 20-year-old man fell ill at Mutiny in Portsmouth after taking what was described as "high strength or a bad batch" of drugs on Saturday.
Following their deaths, and concern about the potency of some drugs doing the rounds at the moment, the HSE says it is issuing harm reduction information to Irish festival goers.
More Irish people aged between 15 and 24 take psychoactive drugs than in any other country in Europe.
Serious adverse effects have been reported with MDMA recently including seizures, overheating and mental health problems in particular paranoia and psychosis.
Dr. Eamonn Keenan says the safest option is to not take drugs at all, and has warned that "there are high dose batches of ecstasy or MDMA in circulation."
He is advising people with mental or physical health problems not to take drugs, and has told those that choose to to "look after themselves" and let their friends know.
"Always make sure when you arrive at a festival that you know where the Medical tent is located", and "avoid trying new types of drugs for the first time at festivals", he said.
The HSE advises that it is always safer not to take drugs, but has these tips if you do:
- Test dose a new batch – begin with a low dose ¼ pill
- Wait at least two hours before using anymore
- Some pills are cut with other drugs that take effect more slowly
- When buying always know your source
- Mixing drugs and alcohol can increase the risk of unwanted side effects
- Stay with trusted friends
- Stay well hydrated by drinking water and remember to eat properly
- MDMA can make people sexually aroused - always use a condom
- Chewing gum can help jaw cramps
- Wait 4 weeks between sessions.
For more information and support go to www.drugs.ie or you can freephone the HSE Drug Helpline on 1800 459 459.