Ecstasy - Drug Addiction

This drug was very popular in the ‘Acid House’ and rave scene of the early 1990’s. It is synthetically produced in illegal laboratories and is often mixed or ‘cut’ with additives or fillers.

Ecstasy enabled clubbers to dance and stay awake until the early hours as well as feeling a deep affection or ‘love’ for others. People often referred to being ‘loved up’ when taking ecstasy.

Its gives people a feeling of euphoria or a ‘rush’ and also heightens the senses.

What is ‘ecstasy?’ 

Known as the first ‘designer drug’  ecstasy started life as a recreational drug and was often used at all night raves. But that has expanded to include other groups of people include young professionals and new environments, for example, mainstream clubs.

It is a synthetic chemical called methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA and is very similar in effects to amphetamines or hallucinogens.

It affects the chemistry of the brain by releasing large amounts of serotonin - a chemical which impacts upon several functions of the nervous system including sleep, memory, mood and appetite.

Ecstasy can be combined with additives or other substances, e.g. ketamine so you may not be certain that what you are getting is ‘pure’ ecstasy.

What does it look like?

Ecstasy comes in tablet or capsule forms although there is a powder version as well. This powder can be crushed and then snorted.

Tablets are the most popular way of taking this drug and come in a wide variety of colours, ranging from white through to red, yellow or black tablets. Some of these have pictures e.g. a dove or images stamped onto them.

How is ecstasy used?

It is usually taken orally although some people crush the tablets into a powder and then inhale this. It has also been injected although this is very rare.

What is its street name?

Ecstasy has a variety of street names which include:

  • E
  • Dove
  • Eckies
  • MDMA
  • Dolphins
  • XTC
  • Brownies

Who uses ecstasy?

This includes young professional people, clubbers and people who enjoy parties. At one time it was mainly used by the rave crowd but this has changed to include other types of people.

How much does it cost?

When ecstasy first came on the scene a tablet cost around 20-25 but they have dropped in price to around 2 to 8 per tablet. Prices vary according to location.

What are the effects of ecstasy?

The effects of ecstasy usually appear within an hour and can last for several hours. These include feeling talkative, extremely sociable, energetic and in tune with their surroundings.

Ecstasy is a stimulant so you can expect to feel alert and confident and able to stay awake for a long period of time. This is why it became very popular at all night raves!

As with any drug, everyone reacts differently to its effects. You may experience a range of effects that your friends don’t and a lot depends upon how much you have taken, how long, what with (other substances) and the way you have taken the drug (orally or inhaled).

Small amounts will result in pleasurable feelings, the desire to hug other people and be generally affectionate to friends and strangers. It also has mild hallucinogenic effects in which users report that their senses are heightened, e.g. more intense colours and sounds.

Higher doses though will result in some unpleasant effects which include teeth grinding, sweating, nausea, increased heart rate, anxiety and dilated pupils.

The ‘come down’ is also unpleasant and includes insomnia, depression, irritability, confusion and paranoia.

In spite of this many people still continue to take it so clubs have introduced ‘chill out’ rooms and have made bottled water available to ensure that this minimises any risks.

Regular use results in a lowered immune system, tiredness, mood swings, anxiety and depression.

Is it easy to become addicted to ecstasy?

It is easy to develop a dependency on ecstasy as your body develops a tolerance over time. This tends to be a psychological form of dependence due to the fact that ecstasy causes chemical changes in the brain.

What ecstasy does is to gradually reduce your serotonin levels which mean that you need to take ever increasing amounts in order to experience the same ‘rush’. 

It might not lead to an addiction but it does become a focal point in many people’s lives. So you may find yourself thinking about ecstasy on a regular basis.

What are the risks of ecstasy?

One of the biggest problems with ecstasy has been dehydration. People who take this drug often find that they are able to dance for hours in hot, crowded clubs which leads to constant sweating, overheating and dehydration.

What can happen is that someone then overcompensates for this by drinking too much water leading to a condition called ‘hyponatremia’. This water intoxication can be fatal.

There have been several deaths as a result of taking ecstasy which appear to be mainly due to dehydration although there could be other reasons. It isn’t unknown for people to take several ecstasy tablets which increase any risks. Plus there is also the fact that many tablets are mixed with other drugs such as amphetamines.

Long term use can also cause problems with the heart, liver or kidneys.

The long term risks of ecstasy are still uncertain but there is evidence to suggest that it can damage certain brain cells which affect memory and learning.

Ecstasy is a Class A drug.

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