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Aka: E, Disco Biscuits, Doves, XTC, Mitsubishis, pills, tabs

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health

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Remember: All drugs, including the misuse of prescribed medication, can pose serious health risks, up to and including possible death.

What is Ecstasy?

Ecstasy is a popular nightclub and party drug. It comes as small white, brown, pink, blue, red, green or yellow tablets that are swallowed. In Ireland, it’s normally sold as tablets with logos or designs printed on the surface of the pill. With Ecstasy there’s always a risk that other drugs or chemicals have been mixed into the tablet.

What happens when you take Ecstasy?

  • It causes a calming effect with a warm friendly feeling towards others, giving it the name of "the love drug". Users generally feel less inhibited and experience everything more intensely.
  • After swallowing an Ecstasy, it takes 20 to 60 minutes to “come up” or feel the effects of the drug, but it can take longer. The effects (high) normally last a few hours. There’s usually a “come down” period when the effects of ecstasy wear-off.
  • Coming down can involve feeling depressed, exhausted, unable to sleep, sick or just generally down.
  • There may be increased self-awareness and increased perception of vision and music.
  • MDMA causes a rise in blood pressure, heartbeat and temperature. Other physical effects include a tingling sensation on the skin, jaw stiffness, pupil dilation, grinding of the teeth, dry mouth, tremors, muscle tension and blurred vision.
  • Anyone suffering from epilepsy, diabetes, asthma or pre-existing heart disease is particularly vulnerable to having symptoms brought on suddenly with severe consequences.

The risks of taking Ecstasy

  • The main risk is that you can never be sure of what you’re getting. Less than half the drugs sold as Ecstasy are pure. The rest are a mixture of the Ecstasy drug (MDMA) and other chemicals.
  • Another danger with E in a club or rave is that of "heat stroke". Literally, pints of bodily fluids can be sweated out, and a sudden rise in body temperatures can lead to blood clotting. Signs of heatstroke include; heat cramps in the legs, arms and back, dizziness, headache, vomiting, fainting, sudden attacks of extreme fatigue and irritability.
  • Deaths from ecstasy are quite rare but can be caused by heatstroke, heart attacks or asthma attacks.
  • Experts are concerned that long-term use of ecstasy may increase the risk of severe depression and other mental illnesses in later life. If you take Ecstasy regularly you can feel tired and depressed.

How to prevent getting dehydrated on Ecstasy

If you take the drug, make sure to drink a pint of water or a non-alcoholic drink every hour. Drink slowly and don’t gulp it down. It’ll help stop you getting dehydrated or overheated. 

What does the law say about Ecstasy?

Under Misuse of Drugs Act, it is illegal to sell, possess or supply this drug.

First-Aid response

If feelings of tension, anxiety and panic arise:

  • Calm the person down and be reassuring.
  • Talk quietly and explain that these feelings will pass.
  • Keep them away from loud noises and bright lights.
  • If they begin to breathe very quickly, calm them down and encourage them to take long slow breaths.

A comic style picture of a person being put into the recovery position.

The recovery position.

If someone is overheating

  • Move to a cooler, quiet area (outside is often best).
  • Remove excess clothing and try to cool them down.
  • Encourage them to sip non-alcoholic fluids such as soft drinks or water.
  • If symptoms persist, call an ambulance, but make sure that someone stays with them.
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Published February 20th, 2013
Last updated March 30th, 2017
Tags drugs addiction
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