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AKA Ecstasy, E, Mandy, Doves, Pills, XTC

Mar 21

The Drug

Ecstasy is an amphetamine-type stimulant; its chemical name is 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA. It gives a strong feeling of energy, contentment and intimacy with others.

It comes mainly in pill form although sometimes as a grainy, white powder which is snorted. The pills can be a variety of colours with different logos. It is mainly swallowed. It is not physically addictive but heavy users may develop psychologically dependence.

‘E’ first became a widely used drug in the late 1980s with the emergence of raves and ‘acid house’ music. It has decreased in strength considerably over the years, which is partly why some people have moved onto drugs such as Mephedrone and legal highs because they offer a purer alternative.

It is often mixed by dealers with other substances such as caffeine, ephedrine, ketamine and basic amphetamine (speed). Pills sell on average for about £4/5 but have been known to be only £1 in places. Some pills sold as E have been found to contain no traces of MDMA.

Also known as: E, Mandy, Doves, Pills, XTC.


It takes a few (20-45) minutes before the first effects are felt. You feel a rush of euphoria which grows before peaking after a couple of hours. There is heightened pleasure for music and you feel extremely happy with your surroundings and the people with you.

The effects last several (6-10) hours. It increases your heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. The perception of colours is altered but overall it is only a mildly hallucinatory drug. Coming down can make you feel very restless and low. Like many stimulants there is prolonged loss of appetite.

Dosing can be a problem if the pill’s strength is uncertain and the effects take a while to work. Taking more pills to boost the effects can be dangerous if you take much more than you wanted. It can cause rapidly rising temperature (hyperthermia) to potentially hazardous levels.

How can people reduce harm?
The Global Drug Survey launched a campaign named ‘Don’t be daft, start with half,’ encouraging people to reduce their dose to first test the effects. Another harm-reduction campaign by The Loop educates people on the purity of MDMA crystals and encourages them to ‘Crush, dab, wait’ before their next re-dose. In a group it is always advisable to have one friend not taking it. Always get help quickly if anyone appears distressed by the effects.

Why does MDMA affect women more than men?
MDMA is a stimulant which activates three neurotransmitters to cause a chemical surge of ‘happy’ hormones known as: serotonin (5HT), dopamine and epinephrine. Women are 3Xs more likely than men to seek emergency treatment. The exact reasons have not yet been determined. More women than men experience bad come downs that give them symptoms of anxiety, depression and panic.

Why do people overdose on PMA?
Some reports of MDMA fatalities, turn out to be a different drug: PMA. People would not choose to take PMA over MDMA as it is much less pleasant and much higher risk. One pill may cause increased body temperatures well over 100F, hypertension, collapse and organ failure. PMA is more toxic than MDMA, it can have seriously adverse health effects in people.

How do I know if my E contains PMA?
PMA is sometimes missold as MDMA. It can look identical – it takes longer to work (about 90 minutes). Festival testing organisations can show PMA. Home testing kits can detect MDMA (a dark purple colour), whereas PMA is untraceable.


Did You Know…?

About 200 people a year die from cocaine use.

Source: Office of National Statistics – Drug Related Deaths