Frequently Asked Questions
What is ecstasy?
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.
What else can ecstasy be called?
Ecstasy can also be known as E, eccies, pills, XTC, bickies, love drug, disco biscuit, pingers, vitamins or MDMA, amongst other street names.
How is ecstasy taken?
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.
How pure is ecstasy?
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.
What are the short term and long term effects of ecstasy?
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:
- Hot and cold flushes
- Dry mouth, jaw clenching and teeth grinding
- Feeling of wellbeing and exaggerated confidence
- Increased pulse rate, blood pressure and temperature
- Poor concentration.
The long term effects of ecstasy generally include:
- Muscle aches
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of concentration
How does ecstasy use affect the brain?
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.
Can you become dependent on ecstasy?
Dependency is a complex issue. Some drugs are more physically addictive while others are mentally or socially addictive.
How long does it take for ecstasy to leave the body?
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.
How does ecstasy affect the ability to regulate body temperature?
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.
How much water is recommended for someone to drink if they are using ecstasy?
Ecstasy disturbs the brain's ability to determine when a person has had enough to drink. Excessive water intake can result in a break-down of cell structure which causes cells to swell up, burst and die. Many vital organs such as the liver, heart, lungs and brain are particularly susceptible to this breakdown in cell structure. When the brain is affected, respiration, heart rate and blood pressure are affected and this can lead to death.
Additionally, lack of water consumption may cause an ecstasy user to feel overheated and dehydrated. Users should regularly sip water to replace lost fluids.
To avoid drinking too much water, some recommendations suggest that users should drink no more then 600mL of water each hour or:
- 250mL of water each hour if inactive
- 500mL of water each hour if active
Users should also make sure they take time to cool down including taking regular breaks from dancing.
What about ecstasy and the law?
There is no safe level of ecstasy use. Because ecstasy is harmful, it is against the law for people in Western Australia to use, possess, manufacture or sell/ supply ecstasy.
A person convicted of a drug offence will receive a criminal record and this can lead to difficulties in getting a job, credit or visas for overseas travel.
Using ecstasy can also impact on your life in many ways. For example, the cost of purchasing ecstasy can lead to financial problems and drug use can lead to social and emotional problems that affect relationships with family and friends.
We would recommend that you contact WA Police for any other questions on ecstasy and the law (www.police.wa.gov.au).
What are the risks of using ecstasy when pregnant or breastfeeding?
Most drugs cross the placenta, and therefore have some effect on the unborn child. There is limited research on the specific effects of using ecstasy during pregnancy. However, there is potential to harm the child, especially if the ecstasy is combined with other drugs. It is also possible that miscarriage can result from using ecstasy.
Injecting ecstasy also increases the risk of HIV infection and other disease for both the mother and the baby.
Not much is known about the effects of ecstasy and other stimulants on the baby during breastfeeding. There is evidence that babies feed poorly and may be irritable. There are reports that it is likely that ecstasy can be transmitted via breast milk as it is similar in structure to methamphetamines.
It is recommended that women discuss their drug use with their doctor (or other health professional) if they are planning a pregnancy, currently pregnant or breastfeeding, including prescribed and over-the-counter medicines.
How is ecstasy used?
Ecstasy comes in tablet form and is usually swallowed. When swallowed, the effects become apparent within 30 minutes and last for up to 6 hours. The hangover effects can last up to 24 hours.
It is very dangerous to inject ecstasy. It is not designed to be injected, if injected, it can cause blocked veins or other unpleasant effects such as abscesses, blood poisoning (septicaemia) and gangrene.
The medics are here to help you, not call the Police*
It's safer not to use drugs, but if someone does and starts to have problems - get help fast! Call an ambulance on 000 or if you're at a festival go to the First Aid Tent.
*The Police will not attend unless there is a death or someone is threatened.