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Report details Ecstasy overdoses at L.A. New Year's Eve rave; 18 hospitalized, one dead from multiple drug use [Updated]

A 24-year-old man died at home and 18 others were transported to emergency rooms after taking Ecstasy at an all-night New Year's Eve rave held at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, according to a report released Thursday.

The report, by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, comes in the same week that officials in the San Francisco area said a second man had died after taking Ecstasy at a Cow Palace rave held over Memorial Day weekend.

At the Cow Palace rave -- which, like the New Year's Eve rave in L.A., was held at a publicly owned venue -- authorities arrested more than 70 people and seized over 800 Ecstasy tablets. At least nine other partygoers went to hospitals with Ecstasy overdoses.

A 23-year-old man died the day after the rave, and a second man, 25, died on Sunday.

The report of the New Year's Eve overdoses, published Thursday in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, detailed a massive party where authorities appeared to anticipate drug use.

The rave attracted 45,000 attendees, according to the CDC. Los Angeles police were on site with undercover narcotics officers, and 14 ambulances were stationed at the facility. Emergency rooms were alerted to expect patients from the rave.

The 18 people who were sent to the hospital were between the ages of 16 and 34. In addition to using Ecstasy, 10 had drunk alcohol, and five had also used other drugs.

The 24-year-old man died at home of multiple drug intoxication, the CDC said. The man had no chronic illnesses. The man’s friends informed authorities that he had “used Ecstasy and cocaine at the rave and injected heroin at home afterward.”

One emergency-room patient suffered organ failure, requiring a stay in the intensive-care unit after suffering a seizure and liver and kidney failure. He needed dialysis to detoxify his blood, according to the report, and remained hospitalized for 28 days. The report said that, after his discharge, the man continued to need dialysis.

Because those sickened had ingested a variety of Ecstasy tablets, health officials concluded that overdose was the cause of their conditions rather than contamination of the drug.

The symptoms of the patients were consistent with Ecstasy use, including agitation, high blood pressure and abnormally rapid heart rate, the CDC report said.

Ecstasy use in Los Angeles County was on the upswing between 2005 and 2009. According to the CDC, one drug-reporting system said that of L.A. County residents entering a drug-treatment program, the number who listed Ecstasy as their drug of choice jumped from 0.22 to 1.65 for every 100,000 residents, a 650% increase.

The CDC report said a recent national survey of teenagers showed a rise in Ecstasy use in 2009 compared with 2008 and a decrease in the perception of risk from the drug.

In line with the increase of the use of Ecstasy in Los Angeles County, the CDC report called the use of the drug a “possible ongoing and underreported public health problem.”

The CDC report identifies the rave as occurring at “a rented public facility jointly owned by the city of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County and the state of California.” The state owns the land on which the Coliseum and Sports Arena sit and rents the venues to the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission, made up of officials from the state and the city and county of Los Angeles.

The New Year’s rave held at the Los Angeles Sports Arena is called “Together as One,” and is organized by Go Ventures, based in West Hills in the San Fernando Valley.

Go Ventures did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Although underground raves -- all-night dance parties featuring electronic music -- have been going since the 1980s, in recent years, they have been held as organized commercial events at established venues, “often with high ticket prices and elaborate laser events,” the CDC report says, noting that the New Year’s Eve rave in Los Angeles County has been held annually since 1998.

The Ecstasy cases in Los Angeles have numerous similarities to overdoses after the Cow Palace rave in Daly City on May 29.

Drug dealing was prominent at the Cow Palace; a narcotics task force led by the San Mateo County sheriff’s department arrested 76 adults and three juveniles on suspicion of selling illegal drugs. All but three of the 79 arrested were from outside San Mateo County. Some came from as far away as Seattle and Los Angeles.

The deaths have prompted some local officials there to question why publicly owned facilities are allowing raves, which have a history of illicit drug use by attendees and which require substantial police resources to arrest drug dealers.

“Every weekend, there’s an underground rave somewhere. But the issue is that this is a state-owned venue. So the taxpayers, they’re paying for law enforcement to deal with this issue at a state-run venue,” said Marc Alcantara, commander of the narcotics task force at the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department.

San Mateo County Supervisor Adrienne Tissier noted that there were also two deaths at the Cow Palace after a rave on New Year’s Eve in 2002.

“From my perspective, it’s a magnet for drug dealers. You’re putting our youth in harm’s way,” Tissier said. The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to ask the state Legislature to ban raves at the Cow Palace, which is owned by the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Division of Fairs and Expositions.

In Los Angeles, Dr. Brian Johnston, the medical director at the emergency room at White Memorial Medical Center just east of downtown, said he had for years noticed an increase in drug overdose cases during and after raves on Halloween and New Year’s Eve.

The demand on the emergency-room system is so great that White Memorial is asked by county dispatchers to handle the overflow of drug overdoses coming out of the Los Angeles Coliseum area, Johnston said. White Memorial's emergency room is not usually responsible for the Coliseum neighborhood.

[For the record, added at 4:42 p.m.: The headline on an earlier version of this post did not say that the man who died had taken multiple drugs. A 2:35 p.m. "for the record" incorrectly said the man died at the rave. The post correctly reported his death at home.]

-- Rong-Gong Lin II

Comments () | Archives (41)

Not to support inappropriate drug use, but the headline here is completely misleading. The man in question ingested multiple drugs onsite, and did heroin when he got home. not to support either ecstacy or coke use, but the man most like died from the heroin.

Too much ecstasy and you'll be super depressed for a week or two. It's also usually cut with speed, which means after you do one, your serotonin's already completely dumped, so the 2nd ecstasy pill does nothing for you, the ecstasy in it is wasted - at that point, you're just doing more speed.

Enough coke can give you a heart attack - that's not good.

But the heroin will stop your heart completely. That was probably what did the trick to this guy.

And I believe the SF victims also did multiple drugs.

Youth. It's wasted on the young.

The guy who died “used Ecstasy and cocaine at the rave and injected heroin at home afterward," and the headline calls it an ecstasy overdose?

This is a heroin overdose, not an ecstasy overdose. Bad journalism in the name of a better headline. Shame.

"The man’s friends informed authorities that he had 'used Ecstasy and cocaine at the rave and injected heroin at home afterward.'”

Raves are just concerts for techno, banning them is absolute lunacy. Out of 45,000 attendees, 18 got ill or 0.04% of all the people who attended that concert.

This is call for a ban? Just because someone doesn't understand a scene or a music genre, doesn't mean it should be banned. 0.04% is hardly a crisis...that's simply the normal number of idiots in our lives, wherever we go.

My questions is, how many people die each year of guns? Why aren't they banned? If death is what were concerned about, deaths are all equal and targeting techno music by those who don't listen to it is truly lunacy.

LA's raves... The reality is, people will abuse drugs. Having it in a large venue with police and paramedics allows for 18 people to get to the hospital in time and live. Having this party in an underground location will result in deaths. People that attend parties like that pay taxes and the venues generate revenue for our state. They are entitled to services provided by first responders.

The gentleman that died after LA party took cocaine and heroin at home. Did he die because of the the party, or because he was a drug addict? 44,999 people who did not do those substances( some of them probably did) had a great party and will do it again. Pushing it underground or overreacting will not have a positive effect. Thank You

I know this might sound bad, but i love Ecstacy.. too bad its illegal

People die from alcohol everyday, time for a ban on alcohol.

People die from alcohol everyday, time for a ban on alcohol.

This story seems to have a sensationalistic and fear mongering tone. It's unfortunate that this misleading technique is what it takes to sell newspapers. "Hmmm, let's see slow news day.... Oh Look! There was someone who overdosed on heroin after coming home from a rave... Goodie! They had some ecstacy left in their system. Let's write a story about ecstasy overdoses. It will appeal to all of the parents of teenagers who party (most of them)"
Fear sells papers. Raves are bad. What's next, some more stories demonizing medical pot? The LA TIMES should quit moralizing and sensationalizing the so called dangers of the rave scene. There were 45,000 people at the NYE event. 1 died after they got home because they shot heroin, which is a REAL social issue.
Report the news, not the hype

More hysteria supporting "prohibition" which then seeks to blame the wrongness and cost of it on the freedom loving user instead of the police state apparatus which exacerbates the harms. Its a catch-22. We make them illegal, citing the "harm" which is created when we make them illegal.

No doubt, too much of anything can be bad for you. WATER can kill you, when you drink enough of it. Alcohol kills all the time in doses too large for the user. But we as a society recognized that education not restrictions of freedom is the better approach to keeping our youth from ODing on water.

So, while I am against drug abuse, but I am also against disasters and costly bad public policy even more.

Why doesn't the LA Times discuss how many people die of alcohol poisoning or drunk driving following Nascar races or country-western concerts and highlight the security costs and trouble of such obvious substance abuse and public health risk IN THE SAME ARTICLE, thus providing some context and analysis of the larger social impact of these Raves?

Prohibition didn't work for alcohol, and we have a country with civil libertarian ideals of keeping the government out of what we do with our bodies unless it puts someone else in direct way of clear harm (such as driving while high on anything).

The greater risk to public health and our youth is ALCOHOL, which kills and debilitates "our youth" at a clip approx. 50X (!!) faster than the average rave or rave drug. Yet it is not illegal despite the public health threat; rather it is the "gateway" to other abusive substances which is permitted.

Thus, we have a hypocritical system which due to that hypocrisy cannot create its desired effect of eliminating the use of drugs in modern society, thus proving to be a policy, fiscal and moral failure.

Real world examples in Portugal and Holland show that drug use and harms/death associated with drugs DECLINES when prohibition is lifted.

Making illegal statistically less-harmful substances than alcohol guarantees a black market for them. When not taxed and regulated, the black market flourishes without quality controls and thus the danger of doing drugs is amplified by public policy not by the user who is punished for his freedom when being forced to go to the black market.

While drugs should be regulated and not available to minors, and while we will need a honest, truthful and realistic education program for the public, one thing is clear... removing the black market aspect of drug dealing will reduce the harm associated with them, including the violence associated with them (including the violent Mexican cartels who thrive on the fact that America crated a black market for them to exploit).

How long will it take sane people to realize that prohibition doesn't work, just like it didn't in the 20s?

The danger to our youth is CAUSED by the needlessly illegal nature off banning what people can enjoy in terms of their own bodies and recreation.

Remove the illegality and you will reduce the harm of the substances to less than alcohol. You will also show the public that a sane and freedom-loving government is acting on facts instead of superstition, hysteria, big business interests (tobacco/pharma) and big government interests (they are happy to have a reason to divert so much of our public treasury to a police state apparatus since it helps them get elected and they like their crimefighting toys).

Think of the reduction in other types of harmful crime such as rape, robbery and murder if our police had the time, energy and resources diverted from chasing people dancing while high to actual violent criminals in society. Imagine it... then vote for sanity in Nov.

It noted in this article not only did the man take ecstasy, cocaine and heroin, but also 10 of the 18 others hospitalized took drank alcohol and 5 had taken other drugs.

is it not obvious that its peoples OWN IGNORANT DECISIONS that screw them over?

and its also noted that ages 16 - 34 were admitted and that we are putting our youth in harms way.... well as someone who has been to PUBLIC [LEGAL] raves, i would suggest that maybe the law enforcement and security are obviously not doing THAT great of a job by searching before entering cause honestly if you law enforcers were really trying to prevent drug sells and use you would be more prompt at searching at the doors. and for the parents who LET their 16 year olds participate in this are just as ignorant. and also if its a STATE owned venue.... shouldnt you guys be making it harder for UNDERAGED kids to be involved in a place where YOU say its such a harm to them?? i mean come on do not blame it all on the ecstacy.

other factors play a part.

so to the one who wrote this article, i suggest you try a different route to whatever it is you are trying to persuade us readers into thinking.

all drugs should be legal and kids need to be educated out in the open i dont take drugs but have done when i was a teenager and now im a mother in my 30s and i feel if drugs are legal and the education on drug use and is spoken openly in homes and schools with out police getting involved it will be better for ex users to educate dkids on drug use and also if drugs are legal then they can be tested for purity and also kids can be educated on the dangers of over dose health problems both mental and emotional and its better for parents to be aware of what there kids are doing and its better that drugs are legalised for education , when i was a teenager my parents never knew what i was doing but if kids and parents can be open and honest about it all then it may save kids from dying and kids from rebeling and using drugs that they can be safely used in a more save enviroment . legalise all drugs for the sake of our children

I have to agree with the above comments - the man had a cocktail of drugs in his system, and they headline the ecstasy? This is sensationalistic nonsense, here because new(?) drugs and the antics of young people grab headlines. A 605% increase in ecstacy treatment sounds pretty scary until you see this still puts it at less than 1% of treatments. What are the other 99% doing? How many people went to the hospital with alcohol poisoning the same night as the NYE rave? How often do police mobilize forces to deal with the big-drinking holidays? Where's the outrage there?

This kind of stuff is obviously bad, and no doubt the atmosphere of these raves is unhealthy, but the way this issue is trumped up is annoying. Solutions will only come from looking at the problem with a rational persepctive. Banning one type of party is just a bandaid solution.

This is what's wrong with the war on some drugs - an ignorant media parroting whatever the drug warriors say - without a bit of critical thought.

This article is *so* misleading. None of these are "ecstasy overdoses."

What's truly dangerous about drugs is bad information, and the LA Times ought to be ashamed for dealing in it.

SSDD ! ppl have been dying from drugs since the 60s. It's suck and it's sad but don't blame the rave scene !!! :D

"From my perspective, it’s a magnet for drug dealers. You’re putting our youth in harm’s way", says San Mateo County Supervisor Adrienne Tissier. Proof that public officials don't need to understand the concept of causality. If I were Mr. Alcantara, by the way, I actually would be happy that these big organized events allow me to deploy resources effectively to deal with illegal drug dealing. If these events go underground, I'd like to see Mr. Alcantara make a dent into that kind of activity. Another thought: how many people drink at the OCFair each year and then get in a car, crash and hurt themselves and others? Don't have the numbers, but certain there've been incidents in the past. So we now should close the OCFair? Ah, no, probably not, because people like Ms. Tissier and her constituents like to go to those events and don't mind boozing a bit. Because, you see, that kind of behavior is completely ok.

This article is asinine! Alcohol kills more people than ectasy ever did, does or will. The reason it's not legal is because the government can't make a profit from it and regulate it. Anyone who takes a mind-altering substance such as booze and/or drugs takes a risk! Some people eat a peanut and die for Chrissakes. Life in general is a risk in and of itself.

I completely concur with all of the posts so far... this article, especially the headline, is BAD, SENSATIONALIST "JOURNALISM".

The issue here is that teenagers/young adults are not being educated on the ACTUAL dangers of drug use: for instance, how to keep your body hydrated, the dangers of mixing drugs (especially alcohol with other drugs!) and the serious dangers of drugs that actually CAUSE overdoses, such as cocaine, heroin, and alcohol.

Banning raves and anything related to electronic music is simply ludicrous. Are you going to ban rock concerts because cocaine and alcohol are common in the rock scene? How about country music because of alcohol?

Like another poster said: a concert/event with 45,000 people, and 18 people were hospitalized has little to do with the event itself, and more to do with the desire of a few uneducated young people to go overboard. There are people who go overboard at every kind of event--including weddings, funerals, and backyard BBQs. Should we ban those too?

How about instead of telling our children, "Don't do drugs!", we actually educate them, and encourage them to act responsibly, and open the dialogue instead of preaching to them and forbidding them to do things they're going to do anyway?

Why does the headline scream 'Ecstasy Overdose' when the article then states:

The 24-year-old man who died at home died of multiple drug intoxication, the CDC said. The man had no chronic illnesses. The man’s friends informed authorities that he had “used Ecstasy and cocaine at the rave and injected heroin at home afterward.”

Drug use among our youth is unstoppable. Every generation has tried and failed. We need to focus on education, safety and reasonable suppression. I'd much rather have our kids in an enviornment were medical attention is available then in some secret rave location, where if a kid passes out everyone's too afraid to get them help.. This article's tone is rediculous and as others have noted the deaths were a result of multiple drug intoxication (or herione), not ecstacy. In the long list of narcatics, ecstacy ranks as fairly benign.

I agree completely with the other people that have posted- the fact that a few people, out of 45K, chose to abuse drugs on this particular night is nothing new. Go to any large concert/music festival and you will find several bad apples that push the envelope and get in trouble. Trying to shut down music shows is the same tactic as trying to make all drugs/alcohol illegal- it has absolutely no effect on the desire of people to use them and only pushes the sales to the black market. Go to the demand, educate people on the dangers and let them make up their own minds.

This is dumb. How many people died the same weekend from alcohol related overdoses and accidents? This is a non story. Drugs aren't killing these people, it's their behavior while on the drugs and mixing drugs with alcohol.

"The deaths have prompted some local officials there to question why publicly owned facilities are allowing raves, which have a history of illicit drug use by attendees and which require substantial police resources to arrest drug dealers."

The amount of flaws in this paragraph alone is pretty sad.

Why? duhh.... Cause there is exact percentage of drug use in schools, in clubs, at nascar events, at home, at parks, at your uncles house, at family reunions, YOU NAME IT!

Police resources? Excuse me? Who issued a war on drugs? This is somehow a bad thing that police have the ability to round up drug dealers? If the media would take a better stand on ending the war on drugs, then MAYBE this statement would have made a grain of sense.

I am sorry L.A. times, this entire article is just bias and pathetic. The writer of this article needs to go hang out at Club Sutra and go do some lines of coke ofd a toilet seat with Brittany spears.

First of all the headline of this article is misleading. The people who died were on a whole soup of drugs + alcohol.

Also, if anyone on the San Mateo Board of Supervisors had a brain and had even a little bit of common sense they'd realize that any event that brings 45,000 party goers is bound to have problems with completely irresponsible behavior. Banning raves is a knee jerk reaction by people who are completely ignorant about electronic music & overall not too bright.

Perhaps along with raves we should also ban rock concerts, large gatherings of any type, the sale of guns and cars, etc. A tiny percentage of people gets sick or dies and it causes this ridiculous overreaction by a bunch of old ignoramuses. How many people die or are injured in car accidents on San Matteo roads every day? Those are also owned by the state and require public funds to patrol and clean up messes. As I said, perhaps we should ban cars.

Very inaccurate headline and slanted article Mr. Rong-Gong Lin II. In Britain even the nanny state drug war wingnuts have been forced to concede that that ecstasy is not really dangerous by itself, as non-DEA funded research has proven.

It's when the drug is not regulated and is sold illegally that you get kids buying tainted drugs. And when the DEA drug-war industry refuses to allow kids to be educated on what drugs are dangerous, you end up with people mixing hard drugs or alcohol with ecstasy and going to the emergency room.

It amuses me that newspapers that present themselves as "progressive" by running leftist-slanted or censored coverage on illegal aliens, John Edwards' mistress and obscenely overpaid government workers suddenly team up with the far right wingnuts when covering the rave scene.

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