60seconds Sam: The Ecstasy Factsheet
But how much do you know about ecstasy and why are some people still taking it? How Drugs Work: Ecstasy follows the effect of the drug on the human body.
So, let's look at the facts. What exactly is ecstasy?
Pure ecstasy is a man-made drug called MDMA - it's often nicknamed E and comes in a number of forms:
- It's commonly sold as tablets or capsules, which are swallowed. The pills vary in size, colour and shape - many have patterns or logos on them.
- MDMA can also be sold in crystal form.
- The drug occasionally comes as a white powder which is snorted.
A big problem to note is that E tablets often don't contain any MDMA (or the similar compounds MDEA, MDA or MBDB). Experts say the pills are frequently made up of other substances such as piperazines, amphetamine or caffeine. These ingredients may have their own side effects, but you won't know what they are until you swallow the pill. Drugscope believes the main risks of ecstasy include:
- Feelings of anxiety, confusion or paranoia. These are more likely in users who are already feeling unstable and those who take large doses.
- It affects the body's temperature - increasing the risk of becoming overheated and dehydrated. There have been a number of deaths linked to non-stop dancing in hot clubs after taking ecstasy. While it's important to drink lots of water, users are advised to drink no more than a pint an hour because too much can cause water intoxication.
- MDMA also increases the heart rate and raises blood pressure.
The drug usually starts to kick in half an hour after it's been taken and some people say they get an "energy buzz" which can last for up to 6 hours.
- MDMA is a stimulant that increases brain activity. Scientists have found that it causes nerve cells to release the chemical serotonin, which can make people feel sociable and "loved up".
- Some of the people in How Drugs Work: Ecstasy said it made them more talkative and heightened their surroundings.
- Users often report feeling flat and tired the day after taking an E - the come down can sometimes last for several days.
What about the law?
Ecstasy is an illegal Class A drug in Britain, which means it carries the most serious drug crime penalties, including unlimited fines:
- Possession - up to a maximum of 7 years in prison.
- Supply - if you sell it, you face life imprisonment.
- Watch How Drugs Work: Ecstasy
- Read the Cannabis Factsheet
- Watch How Drugs Work:Cannabis
- Read the Cocaine Factsheet
- Watch How Drugs Work: Cocaine
- More about the Dangerous Pleasures Season
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