Remember: All drugs, including the misuse of prescribed medication, can pose serious health risks, up to and including possible death.
Ecstasy is a popular nightclub and party drug. It comes as small 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?
After swallowing an ecstasy pill, 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. While on ecstasy the drug causes a calming effect with a warm friendly feeling towards others, users generally feel less inhibited and experience everything more intensely. There may be increased self-awareness and increased perception of vision and music.
Ecstasy 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.
What are the risks when taking Ecstasy?
The main risk when taking ecstasy 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 ecstasy in a club or rave is that of “heat stroke”. 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.
Is ecstasy addictive?
Ecstasy is not physically addictive but there is a risk of psychological addiction. This can lead to you feeling you can’t enjoy yourself without it. You can build up a tolerance to ecstasy, meaning that so you might have take more of the drug to get the same high you once got.
Feeling anxious or depressed after taking ecstasy
If you have taken ecstasy and are feeling anxious or depressed remember that these are normal side effects which should pass in time. Talk to someone if you are feeling anxious or depressed, if you do not feel that you can be honest to friends or family members about taking drugs remember that there are other supports out there that can help.
- Drug and Alcohol Helpline – Freephone 1800 459 459
- Samaritans – Freephone 116 123
- Childline – 1800 66 66 66
How can I reduce harm if I take ecstasy?
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.
First-Aid response to someone on ecstasy
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.
What should I do someone is overheating on ecstasy?
- 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.
What does the law say about ecstasy?
Currently in Ireland giving a pill to someone you know constitutes a supplying offence. Allowing your house or premises to be used for taking drugs is also illegal. If you are convicted of supplying ecstasy you will be convicted under the Misuse of Drugs Act. A conviction can affect your future employment opportunities and many countries refuse visas to people with drug convictions. Taking drugs can also invalidate your insurance policies, such as holiday, vehicle and health cover. You can find more information on the laws around drugs in Ireland here.
Harm reduction advice
If you choose to take drugs remember:
- Start with a very small test dose and wait at least two hours before taking more.
- Stay with your friends and do not leave anybody who is intoxicated on their own.
- Avoid mixing drugs and alcohol. Every time you mix drugs, including alcohol and prescription medication, you increase the risks.
- Always hydrate with water but don’t drink over a pint an hour.
- If you are dancing, remember to take breaks from dancing and give yourself time to cool down.
- Don’t be afraid to get help if you or a friend become unwell or feel suicidal after using drugs. Call 112 or 999
- Drugs.ie: Online information and support for drug and alcohol use. Includes a national directory of drug and alcohol services
- HSE Drugs, Alcohol, HIV and Sexual Health Helpline: Freephone 1800 459 459.
- The Club Drug Clinic offers advice, support and detoxification for GHB (Liquid Ecstasy, G) and other chemsex and club drugs is an integrated person centred specialist addiction service: Tel 016488600
- Rialto Community Drug Team