methylene-dioxymethyl amphetamine (MDMA), is a synthetic hallucinogenic
stimulant, which usually comes in pill form.
oral dose of MDMA is 75mg. On average, most pills contain under
100mg of MDMA - the rest is inactive pill filler which can cinlude
food dye, starch, or talcum powder.
is a white powder but street ecstasy is almost always pressed
into pills, usually coloured and stamped with different 'brand
logos' such as Mitsubishi, Rolls Royce etc
meant to help users guage what they are buying. Hah. Quality brands
are quickly imitated by inferior pills. Unbranded pills are sometimes
better. Sometimes worse.
come and go within six months to a year. The 'Mitsubishi' logo
is an exception, however, as it's been out now for over two years
and has been copied all over the world. Be warned: not all Mitsubishis
are the same.
Ecstasy pills are sometimes mixed with other active substances,
most commonly amphetamines (speed), caffeine, & ephedrine
(a natural amphetamine-like substance)
pills have been found to contain: DXM (dextromethorphan) a dissociative
psychedelic found in some cough medicine and PMA (paramethoxyamphetamine)
- a highly toxic hallucinogenic stimulant
pills contains a cocktail of heroin, cocaine or LSD are false
- none of these have ever been found in extensive lab tests.
intense feelings of pleasure, empathy, warmth, and happiness.
It also increases sensitivity to music, makes people more emotionally
open, and has a stimulating, speedy physical effect.
is swallowed, the full effect is usually felt within one hour.
It starts with tingling and little rushes of exhilaration. Some
people may experience nausea or dizziness while coming up but
it quickly passes.
builds quickly, coming on in waves within the first two hours,
strengthening with each pass. A lightness of mood and relaxation
gives way to waves of physical pleasure, euphoria, openness and
empathy to others around you. The awareness of touch is strongly
heightened. The muscles relax.
The peak arrives
and then the effects last 4-6 hours, with a gradual tapering come-down
in the last two.
and "clamping" is a common side-effect of E and many
people get relief by chewing on dummies or gum, smoking cigarettes
or sucking lollies.
in the brain
E causes serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT) and dopamine
to flood the brain. Both are neurotransmitters which influence
the flow of information throughout the brain. Changing the balance
between the two changes your mood. E gives you a glow of well-being,
happiness, empathy, euphoria, increases your sensitivity to rhythmic
music, and makes you want to dance.
studies show that Ecstasy use can impair the serotonin system
and memory performance. Please see our guide - Can Ecstasy Impair
Your Memory? - plus safe dancing tips on how to protect yourself.
Chronic users of MDMA perform more poorly than nonusers on certain
types of cognitive or memory tasks. Some of these effects may
be due to the use of other drugs in combination with MDMA, among
In high doses, MDMA can interfere with the body's ability to regulate
temperature. This can lead to a sharp increase in body temperature
(hyperthermia), resulting in liver, kidney, and cardiovascular
can interfere with its own metabolism (breakdown within the body),
potentially harmful levels can be reached by repeated drug use
within short intervals.
Users of MDMA
face many of the same risks as users of other stimulants such
as cocaine and amphetamines. These include increases in heart
rate and blood pressure, a special risk for people with circulatory
problems or heart disease, and other symptoms such as muscle tension,
involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, faintness,
and chills or sweating.
These can include confusion, depression, sleep problems, drug
craving, and severe anxiety. These problems can occur during and
sometimes days or weeks after taking MDMA.
animals links MDMA exposure to long-term damage to neurons that
are involved in mood, thinking, and judgment. A study in nonhuman
primates showed that exposure to MDMA for only 4 days caused damage
to serotonin nerve terminals that was evident 6 to 7 years later.
While similar neurotoxicity has not been definitively shown in
humans, the wealth of animal research indicating MDMA's damaging
properties suggests that MDMA is not a safe drug for human consumption.
Risk: Drug Purity
chemically similar to MDMA, such as MDA (methylenedioxyamphetamine,
the parent drug of MDMA) and PMA (paramethoxyamphetamine, associated
with fatalities in the U.S. and Australia) are sometimes sold
as ecstasy. These drugs can be neurotoxic or create additional
health risks to the user. Also, ecstasy tablets may contain other
substances in addition to MDMA, such as ephedrine (a stimulant);
dextromethorphan (DXM, a cough suppressant that has PCP-like effects
at high doses); ketamine (an anesthetic used mostly by veterinarians
that also has PCP-like effects); caffeine; cocaine; and methamphetamine.
While the combination of MDMA with one or more of these drugs
may be inherently dangerous, users might also combine them with
substances such as marijuana and alcohol, putting themselves at
further physical risk.
you may feel physically and emotionally drained. Without the artificial
stimulation of E, the body and mind can suffer from exhaustion
important to have somewhere warm and comfortable to go back to,
preferably stocked with refreshments, and gentle 'chill' music.
General health and regularity of use play a very large part in
the harshness of the after-effects.
rapidly broken down by the liver but about 60% enters the urine
unchanged. The urine could be drunk to recycle it, in the same
way that Siberian tribesmen drink each other's urine after eating
magic mushrooms. This is known in most circles as 'desperate'.
The first day or two after taking E, senses are a little blunted,
but a general sense of contentment can result in 'Happy Mondays.'
E temporarily depletes serotonin for several days, which can prompt
mood swings or mild depression.
is usually the bleakest day before moods stabilise again. Often,
weekly users do not regain neurochemical balance before they dose
again. Permanently fluctuating moods can be a symptom of over-use.
take the food supplement 5-HTP, a chemical precursor of serotonin
(available from most health food shops), during, and after an
E experience. It can help rebalance moods, as can tryptophyan-heavy
foods such as bananas, milk, apples, turkey, chicken, yoghurt
The risk of
death from Ecstasy use is extremely low. Between 1988 and 1997
some 50-100 UK deaths have been connected to Ecstasy use. The
current rate is 7 deaths per million users per year. More people
die fishing or eating peanuts.
The US figures
are much lower, only one death per million users, largely due
to the enduring preference for warehouse or outdoor parties rather
than hot packed-out nightclubs. There is also less of a booze
culture amongst American kids. Most E-related deaths are related
to alcohol-consumption and over-heating.
The most common cause of Ecstacy -related death is overheating
(hyperthermia). MDMA interfers with the body's ability to thermoregulate
itself, allowing the body to overheat without discomfort and other
warning signs, especially when dancing for hours in hot clubs.
In a worse
case scenario, the body can reach extreme temperatures (41-42°C)
- a severe heatstroke which causes unpredictable and often medically-untreatable
problems, including unstoppable bleeding, liver and kidney failure
and ultimately death. Not the nicest way to go.
occur amongst inexperienced users, who have not learnt how to
read the body's response to Ecstasy.
heavily also disrupts your body temperature, making Ecstasy-related
over-heating much easier. Avoid alcohol
should be familiar with safe dancing practices.
too much water
Inexperienced users who are worried about overheating and dehydration
may over-compensate, drink huge amounts of water and suffer from
'water-poisoning' or hyponatraemia.
amounts of water or fluid are consumed, the sodium balance of
the body is disturbed and the organs swell. This is very dangerous
for the brain, which cannot expand inside the skull. It becomes
compressed, putting pressure on the brain stem which controls
heart and breathing functions. This can lead to coma and death.
Leah Betts is a tragic case in point.
This can be
avoided by drinking only 500ml of water per hour and eating salty
snacks, or by drinking orange juice.
Ecstasy is not physically addictive in the way that drugs like
cocaine, nicotine and heroin are. Many users are, however, addicted
to the emotional state they reach on the drug. Some feel they
cannot live without it and become regular weekly users.
seductive - many users secretly know they would have difficulty
going without it in the future, but wouldn't like to admit to
it in terms of addiction. Calling a regular ecstasy user an addict
usually provokes a negative reaction.
Frequent ecstasy use increases tolerance very quickly. Increasingly
higher doses are needed to reach an 'acceptable' high. The more
you use it the less you feel the loved up empathic feelings and
the more the speedy amphetamine buzz takes over.
rarely come close to the novelty and surprise of first discovering
the ecstasy state. To avoid the build-up of tolerance long breaks
should be left between use (at least two months).
The after-effects and long-term effects seem a little hushed up,
often by the users themselves. The majority of regular users try
to ignore the increases in tolerance, the harder come-downs, the
mood swings, the short-term memory loss, the inability to concentrate
and just see it as an acceptable price to pay.
There is evidence
that even moderate regular use of ecstasy can lead to memory impairment.
with other drugs
As a general rule, don't mix E with other drugs, especially not
alcohol. Deaths involving contaminants are rare but do happen,
as do deaths involving drug cocktails: ecstasy-DXM and ecstasy-cocaine-viagra
are current potentially dangerous mixes.
there have been very few scientific studies into the effects of
combining psychoactive drugs. The information presented here is
anecdotal. It is based on the subjective reports of experienced
users. Different people will respond differently to different
drugs and drug combination. Know your body.
the clarity of the E high; places a greater strain on the kidneys;
delays onset; heavy drinking can lead to dehydration and a much
worse come-down; makes overheating much more likely; alcohol is
involved in most Ecstasy-related deaths
commonly used to prolong the energised ecstasy state but too much
places a greater strain on the kidneys and heart; can also lead
to anxiety, paranoia and burn-out
some research suggests that SSRI-type anti-depressants (such as
Prozac) taken after E may reduce neurotoxicity. Many SSRI users
report weaker E trips. MAOI (mono amine oxidase inhibitor) type
anti-depressants should be avoided
to help bring on the high, it mellows the intense rushes and helps
with the come-down; makes the ecstasy more psychedelic.
heroin to come down after a hard weekend's partying, usually on
a number of drugs rather than just E, is becoming slightly more
popular, but not to the level reported in the media
overpower the ecstasy very easily, leaving the user sat in the
corner staring at the ceiling for an hour; is increasingly used
to transform the last few hours of the E into a contemplative,
calming-down period or to 'bump' up the effect
LSD aka "Candyflipping";
more common in America, extremely psychedelic, less chance of
a bad LSD trip.
as above, sometimes known as "flowerflipping"
smokers smoke more heavily while on E, but there are no adverse
In the UK, Ecstasy is a class-A drug, alongside heroin and cocaine,
with extreme penalties for possession and supply.
In the US,
MDMA is a Schedule I illicit drug with no accepted medical use
or benefit, alongside LSD, cannabis, and heroin.
The US Government
recently enacted harsh new penalties for those supplying Ecstasy.