Ecstasy is the street name for MDMA, a stimulant drug that's also a hallucinogen. People often experience a physical/emotional reaction when the effects wear off. It can be really dangerous, and can cause dehydration even when a person is coming down. There are things you can do to stay safer if taking ecstasy.

This could be for you if:

  • You want to know what ecstasy is and does
  • You're thinking of taking ecstasy, or already have
  • You want to know how to stay as safe as possible on ecstasy
  • You want to get help dealing with ecstasy
pill cut in half on black bench

What is ecstasy?

Ecstasy is the street name for MDMA. It’s a drug which speeds up messages to and from your brain, and alters your perception of reality. It's also known as eccy, X, or pills.

What does ecstasy do?

People will always react to drugs in different ways. Shortly after it’s taken, ecstasy might make someone:
  • Confident, relaxed and close to other people
  • Have faster breathing and heartbeat
  • Clench their jaw and grind their teeth
  • Feel sick, anxious or paranoid
  • Dehydrated, which can be dangerous
  • Less sleepy or hungry
  • Hallucinate
High doses can:
  • Make you take risks or do dangerous things
  • Make you vomit and convulse
  • Increase the likelihood you’ll experience long term health problems
  • When taken regularly, lead to irrational behaviour or anxiety (which is otherwise out of character for that person)

Ecstasy can be particularly dangerous if:

  • You've got high blood pressure or a heart condition
  • you've got diabetes, asthma, epilepsy or hypertension
  • You're dealing with a condition like depression, anxiety or another mental health issue
  • You've got kidney problems

Coming down

As the effects of ecstasy go away, some people experience quite negative physical and emotional reactions.

In a come-down the feel-good chemicals that ecstasy releases are all used up, and you're left feeling scared, sad, annoyed or exhausted. It can take up to a week for these negative feelings to completely disappear. Other comedown symptoms include:

  • Feeling down or depressed
  • Being tired, but unable to sleep
  • Not being able to concentrate
  • Muscle aches

Staying safe

If you or someone you're with does take ecstasy, follow these tips to keep it as safe as possible:
  • Sip water regularly rather than skulling it. You should go through 250ml per hour if you're not dancing, or twice that much if you are
  • Wear light, loose clothing so you don't overheat
  • Take rests from dancing every 45 minutes or so, and let your breathing and temperature get back to normal before you get back up

Watch out for these warning signs for dehydration, which can be really dangerous (and possibly fatal)

  • Feeling hot, unwell and confused
  • Trouble talking
  • Having headaches and spewing
  • Having trouble pissing, or having thick, dark urine
  • Heart rate not going to back to normal when resting
  • Fainting, falling over, having fits

If you notice someone has these symptoms, get the person still and resting in a quiet, cool area, and make sure someone is with them. Get cool water, and tell them to sip it slowly. Splash some water on their skin, and fan them. Call an ambulance, and make sure you let the ambulance officers know what the person has taken - it'll help them treat your friend.

Other ecstasy issues

Some of the other problems you could run into with ecstasy are:
  • Depression. There's a link between ecstasy and depression.
  • Mixing. Ecstasy is not good to mix with other drugs, including prescription anti-depressants. 
  • Purity. Ecstasy is often cut with other drugs and other non-drug substances like chalk. You rarely know what you're getting, and in what amounts.
  • Legal trouble. Ecstasy is illegal, and if you’re caught with it/using it, you can end up in jail, fined or with a criminal record.

What can I do now?

  • In an emergency, call 000.
  • Don’t be pressured by friends into doing drugs.
  • Don’t mix with other drugs or alcohol.
Last reviewed: 06 August, 2015
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