Drugs and Alcohol


What is ecstasy?
Ecstasy or MDMA (its chemical name) is a hallucinogenic amphetamine that comes in pill form or a powder that is snorted or dabbed on the gums. The effects can be felt after around 30 minutes and tend to last 3 to 6 hours, followed by a gradual ‘comedown’. As with all drugs, its effect in each individual person can be hard to predict. The amount and the purity of the substance you are taking and your own emotional state at the time will influence your experience.

The purity of ecstasy is an issue because it can be cut with other substances. Andi thought he had taken pills that were not pure and Daniel said he really enjoyed the ecstasy he took but thinks that it was probably heavily cut with aspirin.
Some young people have only used ecstasy/MDMA on specific occasions like music festivals, night clubs or at friends’ parties.
What are the effects of ecstasy? 
Young people have very mixed opinions and experiences when it comes to ecstasy. When Joe took ecstasy he felt elated and close to the group of friends he was with. Chloe described the feeling of being on ecstasy as so ‘amazing’ that she had to stop taking it, or risk making a regular habit of it. Craig took some MDMA on a camping trip and wasn't very impressed – he just felt a bit ‘floaty’.
Daniel who is an ex-drug user and alcoholic describes ecstasy/MDMA as a ‘fabulous’ experience for non-addicts, but he cannot risk using any drugs because of his problems with addiction. Charlie believes that ecstasy has helped her deal with emotional issues going on in her life.
What are the negative effects of ecstasy?  
Some of the people we spoke to who had used ecstasy had experienced negative as well as positive effects, especially after frequent use. They described problems like lack of energy and feeling depressed, anxious or paranoid. After taking ecstasy, users may feel very tired and low and need a long period of sleep to recover. This may last up to three or four days and is what’s known as the ‘comedown’.
Some young people had distressing experiences after taking ecstasy. In her teens, Michelle would often go to raves. On one occasion she took too many ecstasy tablets and ended up being violently sick. She began to pull her hair out and was unable to control herself.
Mixing ecstasy with other drugs
Harry mixed ecstasy and cannabis thinking that it would ‘take the edge’ off an ecstasy trip but instead of calming him he felt anxious and paranoid.

Last reviewed July 2018.
Last updated: January 2015.


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