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ER visits from Ecstasy up 75 percent, says study

Ecstasy tablets.
Ecstasy tablets.

(CBS) - Ecstasy is known as a party drug, but a recent government study says more and more party-goers are ending up in the ER.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released a report on Thursday that says medical emergencies related to the illicit drug Ecstasy jumped almost 75 percent between 2004 and 2008.

The study found that 17,865 patients were treated for problems rising from Ecstasy - also known as MDMA - in 2008, compared to 10,220 in 2004.

"The resurgence of Ecstasy use is cause for alarm that demands immediate attention and action," said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde in a statement.

Over two thirds (69 percent) of ER trips involved patients aged 18 to 29, but the report notes that 17.9 percent involved adolescents aged 12 to 17.

Ecstasy use can produce psychedelic and stimulant side effects such as anxiety attacks, tachycardia, hypertension and hyperthermia. Addiction, high blood pressure, heat stroke and kidney failure are also linked to Ecstasy use, according to the study.

These problems are often magnified by Ecstasy's popularity as a party drug, meaning it is often taken with other drugs or alcohol. The study found that almost 80 percent of ER visits involving Ecstasy also involved one or more other "substances of abuse."

SAMHSA plans to roll out "aggressive prevention efforts," according to Hyde, "resulting in less costly emergency department visits related to drug use."