Does giving drug advice encourage use?

Photo of MDMA (Ecstasy) pills via the Drug Enforcement Agency

Since March “at least seven young people” at large dance festivals in the U.S. have died “of symptoms consistent with Ecstasy overdoses,” reports the New York Times. Promoters of TommorrowWorld, a three day dance music festival outside of Atlanta say the deaths could be avoided by better drug education. “A nonprofit drug education group will be giving advice,” at this weekend’s festival “not only on the dangers of drug abuse, but also on how those who choose to take party drugs can use them more safely.”

Vivian Schipper, a spokeswoman for Unity who oversees an affiliated drug-testing program, said the organization’s volunteers walk a fine line. They advise people up front that there is no safe dosage of Ecstasy, but then add that there is a rule of thumb for avoiding an overdose: you should not take more than 1.5 milligrams of MDMA for each kilogram of body weight. (That means that a 180-pound man should take no more than 123 milligrams in a day.)

Ms. Schipper said the counselors generally do not dwell on the gory details of an MDMA overdose: extremely high body temperatures that lead to organ failure and bleeding from the nose and mouth. “We don’t want to scare them without any reason,” she said. “If you want to have this generation get through without too much damage, it is better to give balanced information.”

Today’s Question: Does giving drug advice encourage use?