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What is ecstasy?
Ecstasy (also known by its chemical name, MDMA) is often seen as the original designer drug because of its high profile links to dance music culture in the late 80s and early 90s. Clubbers took ecstasy to feel energised, happy, to stay awake and to dance for hours. The effects take about half an hour to kick in and tend to last between 3 to 6 hours, followed by a gradual comedown.
The main effects and risks of ecstasy include:
- An energy buzz that makes people feel alert, alive, in tune with their surroundings, and with sounds and colours often experienced as more intense.
- Users often develop temporary feelings of love and affection for the people they’re with and for the strangers around them.
- Short-term risks of ecstasy can include feeling anxious or getting panic attacks, and developing confused episodes, paranoia or even psychosis.
- Some people have been known to take another ‘E’ when they haven’t yet felt the expected ‘high’ of their first ‘E’. The danger then is that both Es kick in at once and you’ve got a double dose of effects to deal with.
A big problem with ecstasy is that it’s rarely pure. Sometimes, there is no MDMA at all. Sometimes, it contains other drugs, like PMA, which can be fatal. Regardless of what it looks like and what it is called, you can’t be sure what’s in a pill or a powder and you can’t predict how you’ll react.
What does ecstasy look like?
Pure ecstasy is a powder made of white crystals, known to chemists as MDMA. Ecstasy is usually sold on the street as tablets, although it’s getting more common to see it sold as powder and called by its chemical name, MDMA, or ‘crystal’.
Ecstasy pills come in all sorts of colours and some of them have designs or logos stamped into them. This can result in some ecstasy pills getting ‘nicknames’, for example some pills were called Mitsubishi’s because they were stamped with a Mitsubishi logo.
Some dealers pass off new man-made drugs like PMA and 4-MTA and ‘legal highs’ as E’s.
Their effects can be very different or they may take longer to kick in with a risk of the user ‘double-dosing’ to get the buzz they’re looking for (risking double the side effects).