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Ecstasy, or MDMA, is a stimulant drug that is also a psychoactive. Ecstasy is primarily used as a party drug and can come in a variety of forms, including pills and powder.

This can help if:

  • you want to know what ecstasy is
  • you’re curious about what ecstasy does to you
  • you want to know why people take ecstasy.
Pill cut in half on black bench

What is ecstasy?

Ecstasy is a common name for the drug methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA). It’s also known as E, eccy, pills, caps or pingers. Commonly used as a recreational drug, it speeds up messages sent to and from your brain and alters your perception of reality.

What does ecstasy do to you?

Taking ecstasy will affect everyone differently. Depending on your size, health, the amount you take, and whether it’s mixed with other drugs, ecstasy will make you feel:

  • warm and happy
  • calm and relaxed
  • paranoid or anxious.

Physically, it can:

  • enhance your feelings and sensations
  • make you grind or clench your teeth
  • make you feel light-headed, hot and sweaty
  • increase your heart rate and breathing rate
  • cause dehydration
  • cause insomnia.

Staying safe

If you or someone you’re with takes ecstasy, follow these tips to make the experience as safe as possible:

  • Always take small amounts of any drug. You never know what’s in it and the effect that it could have on you.
  • Tell your friends or someone you’re with that you’re taking ecstasy.
  • Sip water regularly, rather than skulling it. Not too much, and not too little, is the best bet.
  • Avoid alcohol, which will make you more dehydrated.
  • Don’t take other drugs, including codeine or other methamphetamines.
  • Don’t get overheated.

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

  • feeling hot, unwell and confused
  • speech problems
  • headaches and nausea
  • spewing
  • trouble peeing, or having thick, dark urine
  • heart rate not going to back to normal when resting
  • fainting, falling over or having fits.

If you’re worried that someone has these symptoms, call an ambulance. While you wait for the paramedics, get some cold water and help the person to sip it slowly. Also try to cool them down. Don't worry about getting the person into trouble – the paramedics are there to help, not to judge you or your friend. Let them know what drug was taken so they can provide the appropriate treatment.

Coming down

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

In a comedown 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 disappear completely. Other comedown symptoms include:

  • feeling down or depressed
  • being tired, but unable to sleep
  • not being able to concentrate
  • muscle aches.

Other things to consider about ecstasy

  • Purity: Ecstasy is often cut with other drugs and other non-drug substances such as chalk. You rarely know what you’re getting, and in what amounts.
  • Mixing: Ecstasy isn’t good to mix with other drugs, including prescription anti-depressants.
  • Legal trouble: Ecstasy is illegal, and if you’re caught with it/using it, you can end up with a fine, a criminal record or a gaol term.

What can I do now?