Drugs Ecstasy

Drugs Ecstasy Information

These details are taken from Terrence Higgins Trust website www.drugfucked.tht.org.uk

For further information please call THT Direct on 0845 12 21 200 or visit www.tht.org.uk


What’s the score?

Ecstasy is also known as: E or MDMA (or in America and Australia as X or XTC). Real ecstasy is Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) - although there’s less MDMA in E now compared to in the past. What’s sold as ecstasy is often cut with things like speed, aspirin, caffeine, ketamine or LSD/acid-type drugs.

Taking ecstasy

E comes in pills but can also be a powder which can be snorted, inserted into the arse or sometimes mixed with water, then injected.

There’s tips to make your taking safer here.

Highs and lows

About half an hour after taking E, as you come up it makes your brain release its ‘feel good’ chemicals dopamine and serotonin. For up to 4 hours you can feel chilled out, buzzing with energy, less uptight, and feel high and ‘loved up’ (full of affection, even for total strangers). Sounds and lights can be enhanced, another reason for E’s popularity with clubbers.

Jaw clenching, teeth grinding and sweating are common. E can sometimes cause anxiety or panic attacks. 

The drug can push up your body temperature to what could be life-threatening levels, made worse by hot clubs and dancing.

In the days after taking E many people feel down or irritable.

Between 1999 and 2004 over 250* people died in the UK after using E, often from heatstroke, heart failure or drinking too little or too much water. Many had used E with other chems or booze.
A small number of people seem to be hypersensitive to the drug, making their first experience of it dangerous.

* Office of National Statistics

Sex on E

Ecstasy can make people horny, with an increased sense of touch. But it can make it difficult to get a hard-on or to come. As the drug lowers your inhibitions it can make some people more likely to risk getting or passing on HIV.

‘Sexstasy’ is the combination of E and Viagra – 2 pills are taken together or crushed, then snorted or put in a capsule and swallowed. This combo is used to get round the problem of getting and keeping a hard-on.

Find out more about drugs and sex here.

A long term relationship?

Tolerance to E can soon build, with more needed to get the same high. Some people come to rely on the drug and can’t imagine clubbing without it. Whether ecstasy use can cause long term memory loss or depression is unclear – research is still looking at this.

E with other drugs

Alcohol  – this can deaden the effect of E and mask the effects of the booze, making people not realise how drunk they are. Both dehydrate the body, put strain on the liver and kidneys, and raise body temperature. Ecstasy-related deaths often involve booze.

HIV drugs – some of these, especially protease inhibitors, could send levels of E to life-threatening levels in the body. Check with your HIV doctor.

Anti-depressants – taking E when on a course of some anti-depressants can cause ‘serotonin syndrome’, a dangerous reaction with symptoms of agitation, sleeplessness, sweating, faster heart beat and muscle spasms. Urgent medical help is needed. If you’re on anti-depressants get medical advice before taking E.

Cocainespeed , crystal meth  – these stimulant drugs taken with E can put the heart under a dangerous level of stress, leading to a risk of heart attack or stroke.  There is also a potential for ‘serotonin syndrome’.

Viagra-type drugs – as well as possible extra stress on the heart, there have been a few reports of this combination possibly leading to erections that won’t go down. If medical help isn’t found within 4 hours this can cause lasting damage to a man’s cock.

Useful to know

You can avoid overheating and dehydration by drinking a pint of water over every hour that you’re dancing, and by taking breaks. But drinking too much water can be dangerous.

Once your brain’s ‘feel good’ chemicals have been used up, they take a few days to be replaced. So there’s little point taking more E. Any extra buzz you might get will come from the speed, caffeine, etc. the pill’s been cut with.

E should be avoided by people with a history of mental illness or depression (it can trigger depression or make it worse if you have it already).

As ecstasy pushes up blood pressure and heart rate it should be avoided if you’ve got high blood pressure, heart/liver/kidney problems, the eye condition glaucoma or a history of stroke.

The law

Ecstasy is a Class A drug. Possession can mean up to 7 years in prison and/or an unlimited fine.  Intending to supply (including giving to mates) can mean up to life in prison and/or an unlimited fine.

Read our page on Drugs and the police for advice if you’re arrested.