Ecstasy (E) / MDMA

Ecstasy (E) can lead to emotional openness, euphoria, and an intense, energetic, spiritual high. It can connect people freely and openly with each other, promote deep inner thinking and analysis, or lead to a reduction in cynical or critical thoughts.

The main risks with 'E' use are:

Dehydration and overheating: The likelihood of this increases if you dance in a crowded, hot club or dance party.
Difference in pills: The chemical that gives 'E' its good reputation is MDMA. Because 'E' is illegal, the production of 'E' is unregulated. This means there is no guarantee that what you buy is what you get: ecstasy is often cut with other substances, some of which can be very harmful. (See below for more on the differences between MDMA and 'E'.)
Depression: Many users report feeling "down" for a couple of days after using 'E'.
Jaw clenching: There is research to show that 'E' users have greater tooth wear than non-users, a product of jaw clenching while high or in the days after an 'E' trip.
Water toxicity: You can have serious problems if you drink too much water and do not piss (or sweat if you dance).
Drug Class:
Entactogen.
Individual drugs:
MDMA, MDA, MDEA
Common Terms:
E, Ecstasy, Disco biscuits, MDMA, pills, X.
Standard Dose:
  • E is usually sold as a pill. These pills come in various sizes and colours, usually stamped with different logos. "Pure MDMA" usually come in a capsule as a white to off-white powder.
  • Almost always swallowed as a pill or capsule.
  • 100-125mg (this varies widely when in pill form, and there maybe none present).
  • Can be snorted, injected or hooped (placed up the ass).
The Buzz:

For an excellent explanation of why E makes you feel the way it does, check out the slide show on the DanceSafe website.
  • When swallowed the effects come on within 20 - 40 minutes.
  • Initially little rushes of exhilaration until the peak high is felt 60 - 90 minutes after ingestion.
  • Increases in heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and pupil dilation.
  • Suppression of appetite.
  • A sense of energy and alertness similar to, but not as euphoric as, amphetamine (speed).
  • A warm state of empathy and good feelings of self, and an understanding and acceptance of others.
  • An MDMA "high" lasts 3-5 hours, although many pills produce effects lasting longer, as they contain other substances.
Overdose and other negative effects:
  • In high doses, or when in a hot environment, ecstasy can lead to overheating.
  • In high doses ecstasy can lead to seizures, strokes, heart attacks or difficulty breathing (even in experienced users).
  • After-effects can include, or continued use can lead to, depression, agitation, anxiety, panic attacks and paranoia. Continued use can also lead to these symptoms.
  • Jaw clenching and teeth grinding can wear down your teeth or create cuts inside your mouth.
  • Temporary short term memory impairment (you forget what's going on or what conversations you are having).
  • Difficulty obtaining or maintaining an erection.
Dangerous Drug Combinations:
  • Mixing with other stimulants or depressants can increase your risk of negative effects.
  • Avoid taking E if you are on anti-depressant medication, especially MAOIs.
  • Be careful if you mix with Viagra®. If you do mix, take only ½ of each. If you get an erection that lasts more than 4 hours, go to a hospital emergency room.

'E' or ECSTASY (pills)

Ecstasy pills (E) can contain a wide variety of substances. Some pills contain MDMA, others contain MDMA mixed with other drugs, and some contain other drugs but no MDMA at all. Chemical analysis has found ingredients including: PMA; DXM; PCP; ketamine; caffeine; ephedrine; methamphetamine. Why? Because demand is greater than supply. Manufacturers therefore substitute other ingredients to mimic the effects of MDMA. MDMA is manufactured illegally and it is hard to find the ingredients needed and often cheaper to use alternatives.

Pills are not made individually - they are made in batches, often by the hundreds or thousands. Most pills made in the same batch contain similar ingredients in similar quantities and will have the same colour, shape, size, and logo. The pills are then referred to depending on these characteristics. For example:
A green clover
A yellow dog
A pink heart
The buzz is dependent on many factors, including the ingredients of the pill. Other factors include how you are feeling before you take the pill, how much food is in your stomach and the environment where you are taking the drug. When swallowed, the effects can come on within 20 minutes, or may take as long as 90 minutes. Pills generally act like stimulants, increasing body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate. Some pills produce greater feelings of happiness and contentment (feeling "loved up") while others produce a more energetic "wired" body buzz. The "loved up" feeling is usually with pills that have a greater MDMA content, while the more energetic pills probably contain more amphetamine-like ingredients.

You never know what you are going to get but there are some things you can do to try and predict what to expect:
  • Ask your dealer if he/she knows what the contents of the pill are. If they are selling different types of pills ask what the differences are. They have often tried the pills themselves, asked their friends to report on them, or even know what ingredients went in when they were manufactured.
  • Ask around and see what pills are currently being sold. Check with people that have tried them and ask what kind of high they felt. Did they feel happy and warm? Totally energized? How long did their high last? Was it a smooth high that came on gradually, or did it hit them quickly? Was it a constant high, or did it come and go in waves? You may notice that people who took one type of pill tend to experience one type of high, while people taking a different type of pill get a different feeling.
  • There are testing kits available online that can test your pill for the main ingredient. This does not determine the strength of a pill, or indicate what other substances are in it, but may help to predict the feeling you might get.
  • Look online at sites that show the chemical analysis of pills. It might be that some of the pills available local to you are similar to those tested online.

Unfortunately, no matter what you do, there is no way of knowing for sure what you are taking. It is always best to start by taking half a pill and waiting up to 60 minutes to see how you feel. It may turn out that you don't want to take more because it is not a pleasant high, or you are feeling just fine! If you happen to find a particular "brand" of pill that does not give you too many negative effects, and are sure you will take more on another date, consider purchasing that type of pill while it is available. Compared to taking a different type of pill with unknown and potentially negative effects, this could reduce your risk of an unpleasant trip the next time you take E.

EcstasyData.org is an independent laboratory pill testing program in the United States. Co-sponsored by Erowid, Dancesafe, MAPS, & the Promind Foundation and launched out of Dancesafe's testing program in July 2001, its purpose is to collect, manage, review, and present laboratory pill testing results from a variety of organizations. The information is made publicly available to help harm reduction efforts, medical personnel, and researchers.