ECSTASY: Scientific name - Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, MDMA, MDEA and MDA

(Click here to return to index of drugs cocktail)

The effects of Ecstasy

Within 20 minutes to one hour of taking Ecstasy, it increases energy and sense of well being.  Sounds, colours and emotions are more intense.  

Users often develop temporary feelings of love and affection for the people they're with and for the strangers around them.

It has possible hallucinogenic properties and lasts up to six hours, followed by a gradual comedown.

Ecstasy and the law

Ecstasy is a Class A drug and is illegal to have, give away or sell. Possession can get you up to seven years in jail.

Supplying someone else, including your friends, can get you life and an unlimited fine.  A conviction for a drug-related offence could have a serious impact. It can stop you visiting certain countries – for example the United States – and limit the types of jobs you can apply for.

Allowing other people to use ecstasy in your house or any other premises is illegal. If the police catch someone they can prosecute the landlord, club owner or person holding the party.

 The risks of taking Ecstasy

 Short-term risks of ecstasy can include feeling anxious or getting panic attacks, and developing confused episodes, paranoia or even psychosis.

 Some people have been known to take another ‘E’ when they haven't yet felt the expected ‘high’ of their first ‘E’. The danger then is that both Es kick in at once and you’ve got a double dose of effects to deal with.

 Physical side effects can include dilated pupils, a tingling feeling, tightening of the jaw muscles, raised body temperature and the heart beating faster.

 There’s no way of telling what’s in ecstasy until you've swallowed it. There may be negative side effects from other drugs and ingredients added to the E.

 The comedown from ecstasy can make people feel lethargic and depressed.

 Evidence suggests long-term users can suffer memory problems and may develop depression and anxiety.

 Using Ecstasy has been linked to liver, kidney and heart problems. Some users report getting colds and sore throats more often, which may be partly caused by staying awake for 24 hours, which can itself affect your immune system.

 Anyone with a heart condition, blood pressure problems, epilepsy or asthma can have a very dangerous reaction to the drug.

 There’ve been over 200 ecstasy-related deaths in the UK since 1996. Ecstasy causes many of these deaths, but some involve other substances sold as ecstasy, such as PMA.

 Ecstasy affects the body's temperature control. Dancing for long periods in a hot atmosphere, like a club, increases the chances of overheating and dehydration. Users should take regular breaks from the dance floor to cool down and watch out for any mates who are on it – they mightn’t realise they're in danger of overheating or getting dehydrated.

 However, drinking too much can also be dangerous. Ecstasy can cause the body to release a hormone which stops it making urine. Drink too quickly and it affects your body's salt balance, which can be as deadly as not drinking enough water. Users should sip no more than a pint of water or non-alcoholic drink every hour.