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DRUG INFORMATION THAT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE

Drug INFORMATION homeEcstasy | The Basics | Effects | Dangers
Addiction & Tolerance | Mixing With Other Drugs | FAQ/ Frequently Asked Questions | Drug Tests | Legality | Helpful Links |

Please note: there have been very few scientific studies into the effects of combining psychoactive drugs. The information presented here is anecdotal. It is based on the subjective reports of experienced users. Different people will respond differently to different drugs and drug combination. Know your body, use yourhead


Ecstasy / XTC / MDMA


Basics: What it is;

Ecstasy, or methylene-dioxymethyl amphetamine (MDMA), is a synthetic hallucinogenic stimulant, which usually comes in pill form.
The active oral dose of MDMA is 75mg. On average, most pills contain under 100mg of MDMA - the rest is inactive pill filler which can cinlude food dye, starch, or talcum powder.
The street price of E has fallen over the last ten years, from € 30 per pill in 1988 to around € 10 per pill now. The sheer volume of ecstasy, however, means that you can buy in bulk, say 50 for as little as €6 each, although they can be as cheap as € 3 per pill.

Different Pill Brands
(pic © erowid.org)
 
Brands?

Pure MDMA is a white powder but street ecstasy is almost always pressed into pills, usually colored and stamped with different 'brand logos' such as Mitsubishi, Rolls Royce etc..
Brands are meant to help users gage what they are buying.

Quality brands are quickly imitated by inferior pills. Unbranded pills are sometimes better. Sometimes worse. The only way to known for sure is to test.
You can get testing kits in forward thinking envrions.
Most brands come and go within six months to a year. The 'Mitsubishi' logo is an exception, however, as it's been out now for over two years and has been copied all over the world. Be warned: Not all Mitsubishis are the same.


Purity
Ecstasy pills are sometimes mixed with other active substances, most commonly amphetamines (speed), caffeine, & ephedrine (a natural amphetamine-like substance)
Rarely, some pills have been found to contain: DXM (dextromethorphan) a dissociative psychedelic found in some cough medicine and PMA (paramethoxyamphetamine) - a highly toxic hallucinogenic stimulant
Rumours that pills contains a cocktail of heroin, cocaine or LSD are false - none of these have ever been found in extensive lab tests.

Effects: How It Feels.
MDMA produces intense feelings of pleasure, empathy, warmth, and happiness. It also increases sensitivity to music, makes people more emotionally open, and has a stimulating, speedy physical effect.
When ecstasy is swallowed, the full effect is usually felt within one hour. It starts with tingling and little rushes of exhilaration. Some people may experience nausea or dizziness while coming up but it quickly passes.
The effect builds quickly, coming on in waves within the first two hours, strengthening with each pass. A lightness of mood and relaxation gives way to waves of physical pleasure, euphoria, openness and empathy to others around you. The awareness of touch is strongly heightened. The muscles relax.
The peak arrives and then the effects last 4-6 hours, with a gradual tapering come-down in the last two.
Jaw clenching and "clamping" is a common side-effect of E and many people get relief by chewing on dummies or gum, smoking cigarettes or sucking lollies.

The Brain:
XTC causes serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT) and dopamine to flood the brain. Both are neurotransmitters which influence the flow of information throughout the brain. Changing the balance between the two changes your mood. E gives you a glow of well-being, happiness, empathy, euphoria, increases your sensitivity to rhythmic music, and makes you want to dance.
The latest studies show that Ecstasy use can impair the serotonin system and memory performance.

Dangers/CAUTIONS: Please see safe dancing tips on how to protect yourself.
The truth about E-related deaths;
The risk of death from Ecstasy use is extremely low. Between 1988 and 1997 some 50-100 UK deaths have been connected to Ecstasy use. The current rate is 7 deaths per million users per year. More people die fishing or eating supper.
The US figures are much lower, only one death per million users, largely due to the enduring preference for warehouse or outdoor parties rather than hot packed-out nightclubs. There is also less of a booze culture amongst American kids. Most E-related deaths are related to alcohol-consumption and over-heating.

Overheating
The most common cause of Ecstacy -related death is overheating (hyperthermia). MDMA interfers with the body's ability to thermoregulate itself, allowing the body to overheat without discomfort and other warning signs, especially when dancing for hours in hot clubs.
In a worse case scenario, the body can reach extreme temperatures (41-42°C) - a severe heatstroke which causes unpredictable and often medically-untreatable problems, including unstoppable bleeding, liver and kidney failure and ultimately death. Not the nicest way to go.
Most fatalities occur amongst inexperienced users, who have not learnt how to read the body's response to Ecstasy.
Drinking alcohol heavily also disrupts your body temperature, making Ecstasy-related over-heating much easier. Avoid alcohol
All users should be familiar with safe dancing practices.

Drinking Too Much Water
Inexperienced users who are worried about overheating and dehydration may over-compensate, drink huge amounts of water and suffer from 'water-poisoning' or hyponatraemia.
When excessive amounts of water or fluid are consumed, the sodium balance of the body is disturbed and the organs swell. This is very dangerous for the brain, which cannot expand inside the skull. It becomes compressed, putting pressure on the brain stem which controls heart and breathing functions. This can lead to coma and death.
This can be avoided by drinking only 500ml of water per hour and eating salty snacks, or by drinking orange juice.


Safe Dancing Tips: Essential Do's and Don't's when you're taking Ecstasy

Drink SOME Water
The recommended amount of water to drink is 500ml per hour's dancing. Remember: sip, don't gulp. Do not drink too much water.
Drink Fruit Juices
They are more efficient in replacing lost nutrients. Avoid fizzy drinks as they can cause nausea.
Take Vitamin C
It's an antioxidant and will prevent MDMA neurotoxicity. Take large amounts of it (500-2000mg) before, during and after. Avoid Vitamin C tablets with artificial sweeteners (see below)
Avoid 'Diet' Drinks
In fact, any drink containing artificial sweeteners (such as aspartame). They contain phenylaline, a substance which increases neurotoxicity of MDMA
Avoid Alcohol
It increases body temperature, makes the kidneys work much harder and gives a much worse come-down. Almost all E-related deaths have involved alcohol.
Take Breaks
Rising body temperature is the most dangerous physical aspect of Ecstasy use. Take regulars breaks from dancing to cool down. If possible, go outside.
Don't Mix Pills
In the same session to reduce the chance of impurity interactions, or being flattened by two pills with radically different strengths
Watch The Dose
Never take more than two pills, less if you are female and / or you have a small build. Never take two at the same time. The more MDMA you take, the more likely you are to suffer from overheating, neurotoxic effects and memory impairments.
Get pills tested using a testing kit
Many users lick pills before buying them in an attempt to identify the taste, but speed and MDMA have almost identical tastes. You can find out about testing kits here.
Keep Groups of Friends Together
Especially if they are inexperienced users, and be prepared to talk people through bad times; (see our bad trip guide for more details)
Leave Time Between Regular Ecstasy Use
At least one month, preferably two or three. This will make each occasion much more special; it will also keep your tolerance levels down.

If you or your friends experience any of the following, then seek medical attention imediately:
Disorientation:
Somebody being unable to say where they are or what day it is:
Drowsiness:
Unresponsive to instructions like "open your eyes.":
Breathlessness or strained breathing:
Feeling abnormally hot despite attempting to cool down or being in a cool environment etc.:
Collapse and unconsciousness:


Addiction & Tolerance:
Ecstasy is not physically addictive in the way that drugs like cocaine, nicotine and heroin are. Many users are, however, addicted to the emotional state they reach on the drug. Some feel they cannot live without it and become regular weekly users.
Ecstasy is seductive - many users secretly know they would have difficulty going without it in the future, but wouldn't like to admit to it in terms of addiction. Calling a regular ecstasy user an addict usually provokes a negative reaction.
Tolerance
Frequent ecstasy use increases tolerance very quickly. Increasingly higher doses are needed to reach an 'acceptable' high. The more you use it the less you feel the loved up empathic feelings and the more the speedy amphetamine buzz takes over.
Regular users rarely come close to the novelty and surprise of first discovering the ecstasy state. To avoid the build-up of tolerance long breaks should be left between use (at least two months).

Long-term Effects
The after-effects and long-term effects seem a little hushed up, often by the users themselves. The majority of regular users try to ignore the increases in tolerance, the harder come-downs, the mood swings, the short-term memory loss, the inability to concentrate and just see it as an acceptable price to pay.
There is evidence that even moderate regular use of ecstasy can lead to memory impairment.

Mixing with other drugs:
As a general rule, don't mix E with other drugs, especially not alcohol. Deaths involving contaminants are rare but do happen, as do deaths involving drug cocktails: ecstasy-DXM and ecstasy-cocaine-viagra are current potentially dangerous mixes.
Please note: there have been very few scientific studies into the effects of combining psychoactive drugs. The information presented here is anecdotal. It is based on the subjective reports of experienced users. Different people will respond differently to different drugs and drug combination. Know your body.
Alcohol reduces the clarity of the E high; places a greater strain on the kidneys; delays onset; heavy drinking can lead to dehydration and a much worse come-down; makes overheating much more likely; alcohol is involved in most Ecstasy-related deaths
Amphetamines commonly used to prolong the energised ecstasy state but too much places a greater strain on the kidneys and heart; can also lead to anxiety, paranoia and burn-out
Anti-depressants some research suggests that SSRI-type anti-depressants (such as Prozac) taken after E may reduce neurotoxicity. Many SSRI users report weaker E trips. MAOI (mono amine oxidase inhibitor) type anti-depressants should be avoided
Cannabis used to help bring on the high, it mellows the intense rushes and helps with the come-down; makes the ecstasy more psychedelic.
Heroin smoking heroin to come down after a hard weekend's partying, usually on a number of drugs rather than just E, is becoming slightly more popular, but not to the level reported in the media
Ketamine can overpower the ecstasy very easily, leaving the user sat in the corner staring at the ceiling for an hour; is increasingly used to transform the last few hours of the E into a contemplative, calming-down period or to 'bump' up the effect
LSD aka "Candyflipping"; more common in America, extremely psychedelic, less chance of a bad LSD trip.
Mushrooms as above, sometimes known as "flowerflipping"
Tobacco many smokers smoke more heavily while on E, but there are no adverse side effects.

Drugtests: Detection Times:
MDMA is not tested specifically for in the standard urine drug tests. However MDMA users do test positive for amphetamines (the two drugs are chemically similar).
Also, many tablets of street ecstasy are not pure MDMA and frequently include amphetamines or ephedrine, which will show up in a test.
MDMA is usually detectable in urine for 24-72 hours after use.


Legality in the UK and US
In the UK, Ecstasy is a class-A drug, alongside heroin and cocaine, with extreme penalties for possession and supply.
In the US, MDMA is a Schedule I illicit drug with no accepted medical use or benefit, alongside LSD, cannabis, and heroin.
The US Government recently enacted harsh new penalties for those supplying Ecstasy.

FAQ/ Frequently Asked XTC Questions


» Doesn't ecstasy contain heroin, speed and cocaine?
» Why doesn't it work anymore?
» How can you know what you are taking?
» How long does ecstasy remain in the body?
» Is ecstasy addictive?
» How many people die from using ecstasy? Isn't it very risky?
» What causes ecstasy deaths?
» Does sex on ecstasy result in impotence or inability to orgasm?
» Is there a safe way to take it?
» Does ecstasy cause any problems with contraceptive pills?
» I'm on anti-depressants. Is there any danger from taking E?
» I've heard that E is "neurotoxic". What does that mean?
» Every time I've taken ecstasy (twice now) I've experienced panic attacks. Is this normal?
» My sister has been using cocaine & ecstasy at the same time and recently her doctor has put her on Zoloft for depression not knowing of the drug problem. Is this a dangerous combination?
» Is it dangerous to take ecstasy if you have asthma?

» Doesn't ecstasy contain heroin, speed and cocaine?
Heroin and cocaine have never been found in ecstasy in laboratory tests, even though press reports say otherwise. Speed and ketamine have been found on occasions. Ketamine's groggy, dissociative effects are often likened by users to a heroin feeling, perpetuating the rumor.

» Why doesn't it work anymore?
Many users feel Ecstasy isn't as strong as it used to be, though purity tests suggest the average MDMA content has changed little over the years. Users quickly build up a tolerance, requiring more E to reach the same highs. Also, the novelty and surprise qualities of a person's first few experiences are unlikely to be repeated, unless use is very infrequent (once or twice a year).

» How can you know what you are taking?
The only way to know is to use a testing kit. This contains a chemical agent which changes color when mixed with MDMA (or variants MDA, MDEA and MBDB), Speed or 2CB. The resulting color change shows what the pill contains. The kits are legal to possess, but their use obviously involves possession. In Holland, the Government subsidies pill tests in an attempt to protect users against contaminated pills. You can get some here

» How long does ecstasy remain in the body?
Less than 1% remains after 48 hours. This amount will not be detectable in blood or urine samples. However, Ecstasy users may test positive for amphetamines in the standard drug test.

» Is ecstasy addictive?
Physically no, the body will not crave more, or become dependent with repeated use. There is a psychological danger, however, that users can start to like it too much and crave the emotional contentment that it provides. Craving the next party, mood swings and inability to concentrate on mundane tasks are common signs.

» How many people die from using ecstasy? Isn't it very risky?
The UK figures suggest seven ecstasy-related deaths per million users. This compares to 625 alcohol-related deaths per million drinkers. In fact, more people in the UK die from choking on peanuts than from taking ecstasy.

» What causes ecstasy deaths?
Complications from over-heating, often alongside heavy alcohol consumption, is the most common cause of death. However, drinking too much water in an attempt to stay 'safe' is more dangerous. Some, often inexperienced, users have died after drinking as much water as they physically could. In one reported case, a user died after drinking 26 pints of water in a short space of time. The excess water causes the brain to swell inside the skull, which puts pressure on the brain stem and leads to coma and death.
Deaths involving contaminants are rare but do happen, as do deaths involving drugs cocktails (ecstasy and DXM, and ecstasy, cocaine and viagra are the current dangerous mixes). See Safe Dancing guide

» Does sex on ecstasy result in impotence or inability to orgasm?
No, although some frequent users get so used to the heightened sensations of sex on ecstasy, that they find non-ecstasy sex unsatisfying in comparison. In a similar way, someone who is heavily involved in fetish sex might find normal sex dull.

» Is there a safe way to take it?
See safe dancing tips

» Does ecstasy cause any problems with contraceptive pills?
No, there are no complications or interactions between ecstasy and the pill.

» I'm on anti-depressants. Is there any danger from taking E?
It depends which ones. Prozac is safe to use with E, as are other SSRI-based anti-depressants. Many users report lessened effects, although the reasons why are unknown. Prozac can be used to bring the E high to an artificially quick finish. Research suggests that Prozac may reduce any neuro-toxicity the Ecstasy may cause. Ecstasy should not be taken with MAOI anti-depressants.

» I've heard E is "neurotoxic" - what does that mean?
'Neurotoxic' is applied to any substance which causes temporary or permanent changes in the brain. Animal tests have shown MDMA to be neurotoxic in large amounts. Nobody is sure at what level MDMA becomes neurotoxic in humans, but even moderate E use can cause memory-impairments. See our special report: Does Ecstasy Impair Memory

» Every time I've taken Ecstasy (twice now) I've experienced panic attacks. Is this normal?
It's quite unusual for people to experience anxiety on E, but it does happen. Like any mood-altering substance, your environment and how you feel mentally can affect the experience, or shift it abruptly from good to bad. The best way to proceed is to perhaps take it on in a calm, relaxed environment (your home, for example) during the day with somebody you like and trust. Drink plenty of orange juice and don't drink any alcohol. Practice deep breathing for relaxation and have lots of good music you like within arms length. If you still get panicky, it could be that E is just not for you.

» My sister has been using cocaine & ecstasy at the same time and recently her doctor has put her on Zoloft for depression not knowing of the drug problem. Is this a dangerous combination?
There are no direct physical dangers from mixing Zoloft and Ecstasy (MDMA). Zoloft (or to use its chemical name, Sertraline) is an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), the same class of anti-depressants as Prozac (Flouxetine), Celexa (Citalopram Hydrobromide), Luvox (Fluvoxamine), and Paxil (Paroxetine). These chemicals will actually reduce or even completely eliminate the effects of Ecstasy when the two are taken together. Also Celexa in particular is sometimes used to treat cocaine-dependency and may reduce cocaine effects and craving.
Cocaine works on the dopamine system in the brain to produce its effects and MDMA has no direct effect on this system, although dopamine does play a role in the MDMA effect. Cocaine, however, does increase heart-rate and blood pressure which may cause physical problems in an unfit person.
Perhaps more importantly, long term, both cocaine and ecstasy cause significant crashes and depression after use. In different ways. There are consistent reports, both anecdotal and scientific, that constant or binge ecstasy use is linked to depressed mood. Cocaine causes noticeable mood-swings and crashes on a next few days basis for occasional users, and long-term mood problems for chronic users.

» Is it dangerous to take ecstasy if you have asthma?
Anecdotal reports seem to suggest that there are no particular problems or direct physical dangers for asthmatics taking ecstasy. However many asthma inhalers (such as Ventolin or Salbutamol) use amphetamine-like chemicals which increase heart rate and blood pressure and may not be wise to combine with Ecstasy.

Please note: There have been very few scientific studies into the effects of combining psychoactive drugs. The information presented here is anecdotal. It is based on the subjective reports of experienced users. Different people will respond differently to different drugs and drug combination. Know your body.

Some resource Links that may be useful:
http://www.lindesmith.org
http://www.erowid.org/chemicals/

University of Amsterdam Center For Drug Research  http://www.cedro-uva.org

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