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Frequently Asked Questions


Ecstasy is the name given to methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA).  Ecstasy is a derivative of the amphetamine group and has both stimulant and hallucinogenic properties. It is sometimes referred to as a 'psychedelic amphetamine'.

Ecstasy does not always contain just MDMA. Ecstasy pills are often mixed with a variety of other substances including aspirin, caffeine and ketamine (a veterinary anaesthetic agent). Sometimes drugs containing no MDMA are sold as ecstasy. This makes it difficult for people to know what they are taking.

Ecstasy can also be known as E, eccies, pills, XTC, bickies, love drug, disco biscuit, pingers, vitamins or MDMA, amongst other street names.

Ecstasy is generally taken as a tablet (‘pill’) which is swallowed. When swallowed, the effects become apparent within approximately 30 to 90 minutes and can last up to 6 to 8 hours.

Ecstasy may also be taken by suppository, snorting, smoking or injecting crushed tablets. As ecstasy usually comes in tablet form, it is not designed to be injected. The tablets are bound by a chalky substance, which if injected, can cause blocked veins or other unpleasant effects such as abscesses, blood poisoning (septicaemia) and gangrene.

There's no safe way to take an ecstasy pill, because the simple fact is that nobody taking it can possibly know what's in it. Even two pills from the same supplier can contain extremely variable levels of active substances, including several that can be highly toxic when combined.

Ecstasy pills are often made with no control over their manufacture, making it very difficult to know exactly what's in them without taking them in to get analysed. Ecstasy is often mixed with a variety of different drugs including MDEA, PMA, MDA, ephedrine, LSD and other harmful ingredients such as insecticides, ketamine (horse tranquillisers) and cough suppressants and many were found to contain other different substances of cheaper quality and varying toxicity.

The effects of ecstasy can change from person to person as with any drug. This is because the effects of drugs change with person to person depending on the persons characteristics (such as physical size, gender, mood, diet, fitness, age, expectations and health), the drug itself (such as the amount used and its purity), and how it is taken and the environment a person is in when using the drug.

The short term effects of ecstasy generally include:

  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Hot and cold flushes
  • Dry mouth, jaw clenching and teeth grinding
  • Feeling of wellbeing and exaggerated confidence
  • Anxiety
  • Increased pulse rate, blood pressure and temperature
  • Insomnia
  • Poor concentration.

The long term effects of ecstasy generally include:

  • Depression
  • Drowsiness
  • Muscle aches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of concentration
  • Irritability.

There is the emerging evidence of serious long-term effects of stimulant use, including depression, anxiety, psychosis and memory disturbance from use of stimulant drugs. Ecstasy is a stimulant drug, and many ecstasy pills contain forms of amphetamines and methylenedioxymethylamphetamine (MDMA) or ecstasy, has many similar characteristics to that of amphetamines. Also, most people who use ecstasy also use amphetamines, potentially without knowing they are, due to the contaminants in ecstasy pills.

Dependency is a complex issue. Some drugs are more physically addictive while others are mentally or socially addictive.

Ecstasy can be detected in saliva for approximately 24 hours after use, in urine for approximately up to 3-4 days after use and in blood from approximately 4-8 hours after use.

It is important to note that the detection of drugs and their metabolites in any biological sample (saliva, urine and blood) can change depending on the individual person and their biological factors and most suggested time frames are based on scientific studies, but individual results may vary.

Ecstasy affects the production of serotonin, a mechanism that regulates the body's temperature. It appears to cause a loss of control of normal body temperature.

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