Ecstasy (x-ta-see) pills, also known as E, sweeties, swedgers, or named by the logo on the front, is a drug associated with the dance scene. Pills usually have a distinct logo on one or both sides of the pill and come in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes.
Most users buy ecstasy pills that they expect to contain the chemical MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine).
MDMA is a stimulant (upper) and empathogen (‘loved-up’) drug which can make you feel chatty and euphoric. You might feel more connected to music and people and able to have conversations more freely. Other effects include hallucinations, enhanced colour and sound, jaw tension/clenching, dilated pupils and difficulty urinating. It also increases your heart rate and body temperature.
It normally takes 20 minutes to an hour for the effect of a pill to come on (this may be different if taking MDMA powder and will vary from person to person). While waiting to “come up” there may be feelings of anxiety or nausea with some people reporting throwing up. If snorting a crushed pill the effects may by stronger and last longer. The same goes for rectal (up your bum) use.
Ecstasy pills containing MDMA can last 4-6 hours and when the effects wear off the come down can last 3-4 days, which may leave you feeling low and irritable.
There is no set amount of MDMA in pills so there can be a huge difference in each batch. Pills in the 90s were really strong but by the 2000s they started to get weaker and it would be common for people to take two at a time. This should be avoided as many pills are now a lot stronger. A dose may be considered to be 80 mg but ‘ecstasy’ pills can contain anything from 0-300mg of MDMA. This dose should not be taken as a recommendation.
Pills may also be made using other drugs such as PMA or PMMA (see PMA section). This gives effects similar to MDMA but is more toxic and will take longer to kick. As pills that do not contain MDMA take longer to take effect wait two hours before re-dosing and start with half or even quarter of a pill.
If snorting a crushed up pill the effects will come on quicker and will be stronger. The same goes for rectal (up your bum) use.
Ecstasy pills containing MDMA can last 4-6 hours
What you need to know
If you choose to take ecstasy:
Not all ecstasy pills are the same – do research online and if possible test your pills. Kits are available online
Be aware that pills being sold as ecstasy may contain other drugs like PMA which can be stronger, take longer to come on and have higher risk
Start with half or quarter of a pill as a test dose to make sure there aren’t any bad effects
Taking more than one pill at once might not increase the effect but can make a come down worse and increase risk
If dancing take regular breaks and be aware of exhaustion or overheating
Stay hydrated. Small regular sips of water. Try to drink no more than one pint per hour if dancing in a hot environment and half a pint if not
Avoid mixing with alcohol and other drugs (especially downers) which can dull the effects and increase your risk of dehydration
Chewing gum can help with effects of jaw tension
Look after your pals and seek medical help if anyone falls unwell
If you are on anti-depressants taking ecstasy pills containing MDMA can increase your risk of serotonin syndrome
Serotonin syndrome is dangerous- watch out for anyone who looks red hot and rigid.