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(E, pills, doves, MDMA, MDEA, MDA etc.)

Also read: A Rough Guide To Ecstasy - all about ecstasy

Ecstasy is a powerful stimulant and mood changer that speeds up your body system and alters your perception of the world.

It can make you feel both uplifted and relaxed and feeling very happy, usually with an overwhelming urge to dance. The effects of E vary considerably from one person to the next, depending on who you're with, where you are and how you're feeling at the time.

Usually coming in the form of small pills selling at around £8 - £12, or more rarely as MDMA powder, the effects of E can be felt for anything up to 8 hours, although this time reduces considerably for regular users.

Within 20 minutes to an hour after taking ecstasy, your heart may go into bangin' gabba overdrive and you might feel a bit hot and sticky while your mouth goes dry. Sometimes, you'll come up with a huge exhilarating rush and possibly experience hallucinations.

During the two hours when the effects are their strongest, even the sound of a cutlery tray being dropped will sound unbearably danceable, you'll be walking around with a ludicrous grin on your face and even a set of Millwall fans will appear hugely huggable.

Lights will seem brighter and colours more intense. You'll feel firmly locked into the groove on the dancefloor and feel happy and confident. These feelings will slowly diminish as the drugs wear down.

Because E removes all feelings of tiredness and thirst it is vital that you keep yourself hydrated if you're dancing non-stop. Try to drink around a pint of fluid an hour (not alcohol) to replace fluids lost by dancing - isotonic drinks are particularly good. If you're not dancing then you don't need to drink so much as it can be harmful - as in the tragic case of Leah Betts.


Side Effects: Like most strong drugs, expect to appear very strange when encountering straight friends. E can make you strut wildly and enthusiastically to some of the worst tunes in the world while hugging very unsavoury characters. You will also quite probably talk a whole load of bullshit and any photographs taken of you in this state will prove wildly amusing to your friends afterwards.

Avoid taking ecstasy if you're on anti-depressants, and try to avoid wolfing down cans of Super Tennents as the alcohol will dehydrate you - as well as weaken the effects of the E. Ecstasy puts a tremendous strain on your heart, liver and kidneys, and it's important to take time out in a chill-out area during the night.

Most of the dangers come from people overheating and not replacing enough fluids while dancing, so it is essential to keep drinking water if you're dancing. We can't stress this fact enough. But also be careful not to drink too much - about about a pint an hour is right if you're on the dancefloor.

Remember that water is not an antidote to E, it just helps combat the dehydrating qualities of the drug.

Always make sure that you can get home safely before taking E, and don't try to drive.

Because E is a stimulant, the comedown is much like that from speed. Once you've come down you might feel a bit depressed, anxious, hungry and tired with some people getting it worse than others. You might also notice a laxative effect. Long-term frequent users often get run-down from exhaustion and suffer colds, sore throats and flu. Women can be susceptible to cystitis and thrush.

How long do the effects last? MDMA: 4-6 hours, MDEA: 3-5 hours, MDA: 8-10 hours, MBDB: 4-6 hours. Note: These are approximate times as duration and intensity depend on a variety of factors including the amount of the drug taken, its strength, purity, body weight and the physical and psychological makeup of the individual concerned.


Health risks: There has been much hysterical speculation about the dangers of taking Ecstasy, and although the vast majority of these articles seem more interested in pursuing a moral agenda than dealing with the health issues, it's important to recognise that there are some risks involved.

Although it's true to say that E is a comparably safe drug, in 1999, Ecstasy was mentioned on 26 UK death certificates in 1999 (although on most of these other drugs were listed too).

Ecstasy use in the UK has remained constant over past 5 years, estimated at around 300,000 people per week. Depending on fiqures and assumpions made, the death rate for first time users ranges from 1 in 10,000 (the same as road accidents) to just 1 in 2,000 (source: Times, 6.Dec.01)

MDMA appears to disturb the body's ability to regulate its temperature and this can lead to serious problems with overheating and 'heat shock'. There is no conclusive evidence to the long-term effects of ecstasy, although some experts suspect that there may be a link between brain damage and long term ecstasy use.

More info and updatess:
'Psychologists say E is safe' (BBC) 2nd Sept 2002
'Ecstasy: evidence increases for long term harm' 25.07.00
Studies damning ecstasy 'flawed' (Guardian April 18 2002)

In 1995 Leah Betts tragically died after taking an 'E' and drinking water to counter the drug's effect. Read the full story here.

Detection periods: Ecstasy can be detected in the urine up to 2-4 days after use at common levels.

The Law: MDMA and Ecstasy are categorised as Class A drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1971

Resources/further reading:
Drugscope: UK's leading drugs charity
Dancesafe (US resource) non profit E resource comprehensive info
Action on Addiction: medical research charity

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