aka E, Pills, XTC, X or Extasy.
So what is Ecstasy?
If you sit down and talk to some of the sad old gits who are still out and about in the dance ‘scene’ you won’t have to wait too long to find one or two harking back to the heady days of the (second) summer of love, Balearic beat, Madchester, whistle possees, M25 parties, Castle Morton and doves…the rush of interest in new music, new vibes, new values and new drugs. Ah, heady days. This was the sound that we’d all been waiting for. Top one, nice one. Ecstasy that was actually pretty much full of MDMA, and a buzz that seemed to go on for years.
Things move on, as is the nature of things…and somehow ecstasy use has remained popular, gaining popularity with each new generation of party people. For many Europeans, it’s the power of E (or mitsi’s, or whatever’s about right now) that’s been driving ‘dance’ (in its many forms) into the clubs, onto the streets, and into the houses of happy smiling people who just want to be having it. Large.
Most people who use ecstasy just seem to take it for granted that the pill(s) they’ve bought will contain a variety of chemicals. For the purists, ecstasy should only contain 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine, (MDMA). If it really has to be pressed into a pill then I guess bulking and binding agents are allowed. Most pills contain other drugs too – similar chemicals like MDA or MDEA, amphetamine (speed), ketamine (an anesthetic used in veterinary surgery) or even LSD (acid). Some pills contain no MDMA at all. Some people manage to purchase pills containing no psychoactive ingredients at all. Of course this has nothing to do with ecstasy, and everything to do with the illegal market in which they’re dabbling. It’s all part of the deal.
…a sunny “hello!”
Active doses fall in the 80mg – 150mg range. Above this dose the experience becomes very ‘speedy’. In Phenethylamines I Have Known And Loved (PiHKAL), Alexander Shulgin provides some wonderful qualitative comments about his experience using 120mg of pure MDMA. He finishes…”I am complete”. Lots of people using e describe feelings of universal connection, closeness, excitation, euphoria and a rush of energy. People feel dis-inhibited, talkative, and keen to talk about personal things in a way that seems deep and significant to them.
MDMA encourages people to feel closer to the people they are with.
If you’re using e with a few close friends (or just one special one) in a relatively quiet environment at home the experience will be markedly different to what you can expect to experience in a hot, noisy, crowded club full of people who are also off their faces. Horses for courses, as they say. I’m sure someone, somewhere, still says that.
The effects usually start within about half an hour. Sometimes an inexperienced user can feel a bit confused or anxious. High doses, or chemicals other than MDMA, can also cause some of these unwanted effects. High doses can initially cause a lack of co-ordination and dizziness. If this happens, it’s a good idea to sit down until the rush passes.
Ecstasy has both stimulant and hallucinogenic qualities. Some pills cause a distortion of sound and vision. These distortions are caused by pills that contain chemicals with more potent hallucinogenic properties, including drugs like LSD or ketamine.
The effects usually last for four to six hours, peaking after about two hours. If someone takes a pill that lasts for longer than this then it probably contains amphetamine (speed). They’d feel ‘up’ and have loads of energy, but wouldn’t’t feel the closeness associated with MDMA.
Taking a 40mg dose about one and a half hours after taking a 120mg dose will extend the effects of the e for about an hour without increasing the physical side effects (eye twitching and teeth clenching) significantly. Bear in mind of course that unless you know the purity and potency of the pills that are available, it will be difficult to estimate dosages.
Twitching eyes and a world-class gurn?
What else does it do?
Ecstasy is a stimulant drug. Some of the physical effects of ecstasy include dilated pupils, dry mouth and throat, increased heart rate and blood pressure, jaw tension, increased sweating and loss of appetite.
MDMA interferes with the body’s temperature regulating mechanism, so body temperature can increase to potentially damaging levels. It also encourages the body to increase production of a hormone called ADH (anti diuretic hormone) which prevents your body from excreting urine. You don’t pee as much as you would normally.
A lot of researchers are wondering what the long term effects of ecstasy are. Some research suggests brain damage and liver damage. Other research discounts this. It’s difficult to provide clear information when different pills contain different chemicals. The truth is, no-one knows for sure whether using e is harmful in the long term. Aside from physical health risks, there is also an increasing body of evidence suggesting harm to psychological health for some users.
Me want stay on planet, have lossa good time, no?
Let’s just assume, for the sake of argument, that you’ve decided to use e and you’ve managed to find a source of quality MDMA. It’s difficult to talk about the risks of all the chemicals it might be, and MDMA does have a few risks all of its own. Big risks with ecstasy are overheating and dehydrating. Ecstasy is often used at clubs or parties where people are dancing and getting hot and sweaty. Someone using e in this kind of environment needs to drink about a pint of liquid over the course of each hour to replace the fluid they are losing through sweating. You should drink water, fruit juices or ‘sports’ drinks. Avoid alcohol, not only does it also dehydrate, it will bring you down from the e. Eating salty snacks (or drinking those ‘sports’ or ‘isotonic’ drinks) will replace the minerals that are also lost when you sweat.
Ecstasy prevents people from going to the toilet (to pee) as much as they might do normally. If someone isn’t sweating they don’t need to take as much fluid on board; drinking a lot could actually be very dangerous. Water isn’t an antidote to ecstasy, it’s an antidote to dehydration. If you’re not sweating, you don’t need to replace fluids.
Drinking too much water can cause the brain to swell, leading to collapse, coma or even death. .
The after effects of ecstasy use can include insomnia, anxiety, irritability and paranoia. The range and severity of after effects depends on the amount of ecstasy that is being used, and how often it’s used. Sleeping and eating will aid recovery. Essential nutrients, particularly vitamin C and calcium, will need to be replaced. If you take vitamin and mineral supplements before taking ecstasy your body will have time to absorb the nutrients, and recover more quickly. Your body should be able to tolerate up to 3g of Vitamin C in one dose, although obviously if you have any kind of stomach complaint you should seek proper medical advice before taking large doses of citric acid. Don’t forget to rest properly, too.
If you’ve been taking e every weekend and are starting to find that the days in between are becoming unbearable it’s time to take a break. Some people have developed short term mental disorders like anxiety, depression, low self esteem and paranoia after using e regularly. If this sounds like you, or a friend, then you’ll be pleased to know that these people’s moods generally lift once they stop using for a while. It needn’t be forever. The same applies if you find yourself needing more pills to get the effect you want. Once you’re taking more than two pills in an evening the effects are more like speed. And it’s not a race, you know.
If you’re going to use e, it’s safer to use small amounts occasionally with a long enough gap between uses to enable your body to recover.
Taking large does of e, using it regularly or not acting on the risks we do know about is more likely to lead to damage to your health.
It’s worth bearing in mind that e will have a significantly adverse impact on your ability to identify anything that doesn’t sound like a good idea. It can dramatically affect your ability to make rational decisions. It will severely limit your ability to feel inhibited about very much at all. Be careful what you agree to…I know of at least one poor soul who proposed marriage in a state of ecstatic union, and repented at leisure. Precipitated by a particularly fine evening at the Ministry of Sound, London, UK. If you’re reading this, sweetie, this is your cue to say “bastard!”
You have the right to party.
In the UK ecstasy use is illegal. The chemical MDMA is controlled by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 as a Class A, Schedule 1 drug.
Other Class A drugs include heroin, LSD and cocaine.