What is Ecstasy?
Ecstasy is the common name for MethyleneDioxyMethAmphetamine, or MDMA. It is a synthetic drug usually sold as small tablets which come in a variety of colours and sizes. It is also available as powder and can be snorted or injected.
Ecstasy is a stimulant because it speeds up the functions of the central nervous system.
What are the effects of ecstasy?
The effects of ecstasy depend on:
· the amount taken
· the person's experience with the drug
· their expectations
· the mood they are in
· the way in which the drug is taken.
Effects can also depend on the quality and purity of the drug. The effects can start after about an hour and usually last up to six hours, but may last as long as 32 hours.
Immediate effects of ecstasy can include
· increased feelings of self confidence, wellbeing and feeling close to others
· a rise in blood pressure
· body temperature and pulse rate
· jaw clenching
· teeth grinding
As ecstasy may cause the body's temperature to increase it is important to keep sipping water to prevent dehydration. Drinking water does not reduce the effects of ecstasy, it only prevents dehydration. Drinking too much water, however, may lead to serious health complications in some people.
Ecstasy may also produce a "hangover" effect. Symptoms can include loss of appetite, insomnia, depression and muscle aches. It can also make concentration difficult - particularly on the day after ecstasy is taken.
Higher doses of ecstasy can produce hallucinations, irrational behaviour, vomiting and convulsions. There is some evidence to suggest that long term use of ecstasy may cause damage to the brain, heart and liver.
Overdose of ecstasy can occur and some deaths have been related to overheating and dehydration.
Is ecstasy addictive?
People can develop tolerance to the pleasurable effects of ecstasy. This means that more ecstasy is needed to get the same effects as before.
Other drugs are often used with ecstasy as a way of coping with some of its undesirable effects. Little is known about the effects of these combinations. In general, health risks tend to increase when two or more drugs are used together, particularly if the doses are large.
How was ecstasy developed?
MDMA was developed in 1914 by a German chemical company as an appetite suppressant. In the 1970s it was used by some therapists to help people explore their feelings for each other. It become available in Australia in the mid-1980s.
Is ecstasy illegal?
Yes. In NSW it is illegal to use, possess or supply ecstasy. Penalties range from a $2,000 fine and/or two years in prison to a $500,000 fine and/or life imprisonment.