British people take more MDMA in one session than any other country in the world. And not just a little bit more: on average, Brits take 420 milligrams per session. To put that in perspective, Germans – the same people who invented minimal techno and nightclubs that stay open for 60 hours – take only 200 milligrams.
The drug is now regularly back in the headlines because, last year, ecstasy-related deaths in the UK reached their highest level in a decade. Some blame drug manufacturers and dealers for selling pills that are dangerously strong and cut with adulterants. Others point to the government, which has failed to reduce the supply of ecstasy and is refusing to embrace harm reduction strategies that have worked in Europe. Of course, it's also possible that the problem lies with British drug users themselves, who sometimes need reminding that the barometer of a good night out isn't how much of your tongue is left at the end of it.
In the first episode of High Society, our new documentary series about drugs in the UK, we find out what's behind the recent spate of ecstasy deaths, and how that danger can be reduced.