Ecstasy has been popular with the music and rave scene since the early 1980’s but in recent years there has been a notable rise in the number of ecstasy-related deaths in England and Wales. (1)
Purity levels of MDMA contained within ecstasy pills have risen considerably – up to 60 per cent in some cases. Other dangerous Class A drugs are also often mixed with the MDMA to make the pills stronger, the effects last longer and individual brands more popular. (2)
Popping an ecstasy pill today really is a game of Russian roulette – you have no idea which pills are potentially lethal and which are safe.
If you or a loved one are struggling with the effects of MDMA, we urge you to seek professional help without delay. Detox Plus UK is here to help you access reputable evidence-based treatment for addiction so that party drugs don’t have to ruin or threaten your life.
What Is Ecstasy / MDMA?
Street Names and Slang Terms: MDMA (powder) – Molly, Mandy.
Ecstasy tablets and pills – Dolphins, Doves, Brownies, E, Eckies, Edward, Tulips, X, XTC, M & Ms, Mitsubishi’s, Sweeties, Tulips, Teddy Bears, Superman, Fantasy, New Yorkers
Ecstasy is the street name for the pill or tablet version of 3,4 methylenedioxy-methamphetamine or MDMA for short.
Molly is another name for MDMA. Both ecstasy and molly are originated from MDMA, but ecstasy is used to represent a designer variant in tablet or capsule, while molly or mandy is used for the white powder or crystal-like material.
Although ecstasy is sold as a purified form of MDMA adding to the risks is that pills, capsules, or powders sold as ecstasy may be cut with other elements and there is no means for ecstasy users to identify what’s in it.
Both MDMA and ecstasy are illegal Class A synthetic (manmade) drugs. Although it is classified as a stimulant drug, it often has strong hallucinogenic properties.
There are many variations and brands of ecstasy and each pill/tablet usually carries a trademark stamp. With the appearance of sweets, ecstasy tablets often have a harmless appearance, but this is far from the truth. Ecstasy and MDMA have been found to be contaminated or cut with:
Due to the drugs that are often mixed with ecstasy, addiction and dependence are very real possibilities. MDMA by itself creates very real drug cravings that can lead to a heavy abuse problem or addiction.
MDMA, the main substance in pills, varies in purity and quality. MDMA can be used and abused in its original powdered form. Molly is another drug also derived from MDMA and comes in a white powder or crystal-like substance.
How MDMA & Ecstasy Are Taken
The Global Drugs Survey reported in 2017 that the most common route of administration for MDMA was oral, with 90% or users administering the drug this way whilst the rest snorted it.
MDMA is most commonly taken orally in pill or capsule form, wrapped in a cigarette paper and swallowed (bombed), orally licked or dabbed, snorted, or dissolved in a drink and swallowed.
Snorting MDMA carries additional significant risks. This drug, when snorted frequently can cause permanent damage to your sinuses, nasal passages and septum. As the onset of the drug’s effects is quicker through this route of administration, blood pressure can also quickly rise dangerously high causing heart palpitations and irregularities. (3)
The Law On Ecstasy & MDMA In The UK
Ecstasy and MDMA are both Class A illegal drugs in the UK, under the Substance Misuse Act 1971. Possession of these drugs can carry a penalty of up to 7 years in prison, and an unlimited fine, or both.
Supply and production of MDMA can carry up to a life term in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.
Driving whilst under the influence of MDMA carries the same penalties as drink driving. MDMA can seriously impair your decision-making skills, motor skills, sensory perception and reaction. (6)
What Taking Ecstasy Feels Like
MDMA effects can take between 20 minutes and 60 minutes after ingestion to take effect, longer if you have a full stomach.
Many overdoses happen when an individual takes another pill before the initial dose has kicked in. They make the fatal mistake of thinking that the pill hasn’t worked, when in fact the onset of its effects are slower or delayed.
MDMA has a variety of side effects:
When it works well, the effects will make you feel:
- An enhanced sense of wellbeing and happiness
- An Increased sense of confidence
- Experience a reduction in inhibitions
- Emotional empathy towards others
- Emotional warmth towards others
- A change in sensory perception
- Have increased levels of energy
When it goes wrong, it can go horribly wrong and can make you feel:
- Unbearably warm with increased blood pressure and heart rate
- Abnormally thirsty
- Severely dehydrated
- Clench your jaw repeatedly (gurning)
- Experience terrifying hallucinations
- Suffer seizures and loss of consciousness (4)
Users appear to feel extremely sensual, which motivates many users to kiss, touch, embrace or hug others. However, ecstasy is really not a very sexual drug, and it is common for male users to be impotent while high. Several days after use, users often feel different unfavourable effects. As ecstasy releases serotonin from the brain, it can take days for serotonin to attain average levels again. Throughout this time of the reduction, users often encounter symptoms very opposite the feeling of ecstasy including sadness and depression.
Many pills include little to no MDMA and likely large doses of dangerous new chemicals. The contamination seems to be even more widespread in the US as the new most familiar form of ecstasy is now powder called “Molly” in the US and “Mandy” in the UK, which can be blended at any level—by the manufacturer or any dealer on the way.
Ecstasy & MDMA – The Risks
The main risks associated with taking MDMA is not knowing what is in the drug or its purity levels.
There have been numerous police reports of super-strength ecstasy pills in circulation in the UK. Taking even half of one of these pills could prove fatal.
Last year in 2018, two young adults sadly died and a number of others were taken to hospital having taken high strength MDMA pills at Portsmouth’s Mutiny Festival. The second day of the festival was cancelled as a mark of respect and to keep other festival-goers safe.
The coroner’s inquest heard that Tommy Cowan, 20, had high levels of MDMA in his system and also another substance cut with the MDMA to which he had an allergic reaction.
Georgia Jones, 18, who had also taken MDMA at the festival also died after collapsing earlier the same day at the event. (5)
There has been a definite trend in drug deaths in the UK over recent years. Drugs have gotten stronger, purer and cheaper. This combination makes taking drugs today highly risky and abuse is no exception.
Some users have bad experiences. This may involve appearing anxious and panicky, confusion and unpleasant feelings that may, in some way or other, last for days, even weeks. This is more common if users take high doses or are already feeling anxious.
MDMA drug-related deaths have seen a rise again in recent years – similar to the early years of the 20th century when there was a renewed interest in the drug amongst the younger generation.
The Dangers Associated With Ecstasy – What You Need To Know
- In the past four years, there have been a total of 226 ecstasy-related deaths recorded in England and Wales. Around half of those deaths were teenagers and young adults, tragically having their life cut short by this popular party drug.
- Most individuals access the drug from friends and relatives or from someone at a party. Mixing Ecstasy or MDMA with alcohol or other drugs only heightens the risks of overdose and death.
- Chronic use of MDMA can actually alter the biochemical pathways in the brain, resulting in permanent brain damage, mental health illness and addiction.
- In comparison to other Class A drugs such as cocaine and heroin, the comparable number of deaths attributed to ecstasy addiction is relatively low. However, this does not mean it is not dangerous.
- Most deaths related to abuse result from recreational use of the drug and not necessarily from addiction. It only takes one bad pill for a day or night out to take a devastating turn of events.
- Whilst under the influence you are more prone to accidents and hurting yourself and not realising, as pain perception is changed.
- The effects of ecstasy also change your perception of danger. This could lead you into bad situations where physical assault, sexual abuse or rape can occur.
The Signs and Symptoms of Ecstasy / MDMA Use & Abuse
If you are worried a family member or loved one may be using MDMA, look out for small coloured pills that resemble sweets in their possession. Ecstasy pills often have imprints of logos or characters on them, representing the particular brand of the pill. Pills also come in an array of different colours.
Mitsubishi is a popular brand of pill and like other brands, comes in different shapes and colours. Occasionally ecstasy is also used in liquid, capsules or powder form.
Signs and symptoms of ecstasy use include:
- Irregular sleep pattern, i.e awake and partying all night and sleeping during the day
- Promiscuous behaviour
- A change in social circle
- Regularly attending raves and parties
- Suffering physical harm and not realising until the effects of the drug have worn off
- Reduced appetite
- Mood swings
- Loss of interest in old friends, family and hobbies
- Anxiety and depression
- Lack of awareness of pain
- Acting unusually friendly and happy
- Abnormally high levels of energy
- Dilated pupils
Ecstasy and MDMA are very addictive drugs. Cravings for the drug start as soon as the MDMA comedown begins- causing serotonin and dopamine levels to crash.
If you spot the signs and symptoms of abuse in a loved one it is important not to dismiss it as a phase or as a harmless drug. Ecstasy can cause addiction and it only takes one pill to end someone’s life.
Encourage your loved one to talk to you openly about their drug use so you can gauge if they have a problem. If your loved one is showing signs of addiction and there has been a notable change in their behaviour, encourage them to seek addiction treatment help without delay.
How Long Does MDMA (Ecstasy) Stay in Your System?
How long MDMA/ ecstasy stays in your system for is dependent on a number of personal factors, the main factors being:
- Your body mass index
- The amount of the drug taken can affect how long it will remain in the system.
- Use of multiple drugs can affect the length of time that any single drug remains in an individual’s system. For instance, using ecstasy with alcohol, a common practice, will result in the liver giving priority to metabolizing alcohol before it metabolizes any other substances. This could extend the length of time that ecstasy would remain in the system.
- Your age and gender
- Genetic factors can also affect the rate at which specific drugs are metabolized.
As a general guide, MDMA can stay in your system for 3-4 days with light to moderate use. MDMA can be detected in urine for 3-4 days after consumption and 1-2 days in blood. Hair strand tests can detect traces of MDMA for up to 3 months or longer
Chronic use of ecstasy and MDMA can cause addiction and a build-up in the body and take weeks if not months to be completely eliminated from your system.
Ecstasy & MDMA Abuse
Abuse of MDMA is no different from the abuse of any other drug. As this drug is an illegal Class A drug, any use is considered drug abuse.
However, it is important to recognise that there are different levels of drug abuse and whilst some may abuse MDMA purely on a recreational basis, others will take it more frequently, take multiple pills and mix with alcohol or other drugs.
Basically, the more MDMA and ecstasy you take, the greater chance you have of suffering negative consequences and becoming addicted.
When we speak of negative consequences they can range from mild – regular comedowns and perhaps fall outs with friends and relatives, to severe – loss of mental health, relationship breakdowns, loss of jobs, severe financial consequences, sexual consequences such as abuse or rape whilst intoxicated, physical harm and even death.
If you are suffering negative consequences as a result of your drug-taking it is important to seek professional help.
As ecstasy and MDMA are drugs that are mostly used recreationally and classed as “Club Drugs”, recognizing an addiction can be difficult because the drug lacks obvious withdrawal symptoms and are often used by young adults in social settings. Although, sustained use of ecstasy can lead to psychological and physical dependency.
Some individuals find themselves continuing to take ecstasy despite mounting negative consequences and long after the party has finished.
Stopping abuse can prove very difficult, but staying stopped where there is an addiction present can prove impossible without professional addiction treatment and help.
Free Treatment For Ecstasy Addiction
If you are in need of free drug treatment for addiction we recommend that you contact your local drug and alcohol services for support and treatment in the community.
In addition, it will also be helpful to speak to your GP regarding any mental or physical health concerns you have. They can then make the appropriate referrals and arrange any relevant tests and treatment.
Narcotics Anonymous and UK SMART Recovery offer self-help groups and meetings that can usually be accessed locally to where you live. Both offer structured support for drug addiction and helping you to quit drugs successfully.
Private Addiction Treatment For Ecstasy Addiction
If you or a loved one have an addiction to MDMA and want help to stop, Detox Plus UK is able to advise you on the best private rehab treatment options available in the UK.
We only work with reputable CQC registered drug rehab clinics; who specialise in the treatment of all manner of drugs including party drugs and club drugs. If you have an addiction, the nurturing and recovery-focused environment of a professional drug rehab really is the best treatment option available.
Undergoing a drug rehab programme for addiction offers the following benefits:
- 24/7 support from doctors, nursing staff, therapists, counsellors and support workers
- A full medical detox for any drug addiction and dependence identified
- A safe, drug-free environment in which to recover from drug addiction
- Evidence-based addiction treatments aimed at unearthing and healing the root causes of addiction
- A drug rehabilitation programme tailored to each patient’s individual treatment needs
- Professional personalised treatment for dual diagnosis patients
- A comprehensive recovery programme to enable patients to stay drug-free on leaving rehab
The vast majority of addiction rehabs that we work with also provide free ongoing support for families and free aftercare for their patients. Detox Plus UK can also arrange same day rehab admissions for those in urgent need.
For more information on the benefits of drug rehab, details of the treatments involved and the associated costs, please call and speak to us today.
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Narcotics Anonymous UK
Smart Recovery UK
Women who use MDMA seem to have more effects of sleep disturbances and depletion of dopamine and serotonin in the brain than men do. The drug also increases a woman’s risk for miscarriage.
People often mix ecstasy/MDMA and alcohol because they think it enhances the effects on physical performance, but this is simply not true. Others combine them because it can make the euphoric effects of ecstasy last longer. However, once the neurotransmitters are depleted, and the euphoria wears off, it results in a “crash.” “Crashing” after an ecstasy and alcohol combination high can result in anxiety, trouble sleeping and depression.
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