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MDMA tablet


Is it really a purer form of ecstasy? TheSite looks at the effects and the risks involved with taking MDMA powder.

MDMA, or 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, started out being sold with the 'street' name of ecstasy. A recent shift in the drugs market has meant the £2 ecstasy pills sold today are very different to those  around for £20 in the 1990s.

DrugScope's 2007 annual survey revealed that a two-tier market is developing for ecstasy, with cut-price pills selling for as little as £2.40 and most commonly sold in batches of up to five for £10. They tend to feel "smackier" to the user and are likely to be more amphetamine (speed) based or may be cut with other substances (including substances like caffeine, ketamine, ephedrine or the tranquiliser diazepam). Modern 'ecstasy' pills tend to contain a far lower amount of MDMA, if any at all, hence the notable drop in price.

This has led to the rise in MDMA being sold in grams of off-white, brown or pinkish crystals or powder (powder to snort, crystal to smoke or crush up and snort, both to bomb like speed or to dab) for upwards of £40 per gram. This is believed by buyers to be 'purer' and while it does seem that this product does contain more MDMA than the average ecstasy pill these days, it still is highly unlikely to be 100% pure MDMA. 

What are the effects of MDMA?

  • Enhanced feelings of empathy towards other people and increased sensitivity to surroundings
  • Sound, colour and emotions can seem much more intense
  • The energy buzz means users may dance for hours
  • The effects usually take about half an hour to kick in and tend to last three to six hours, followed by a gradual comedown.

What are the risks of taking MDMA?

  • As the drug kicks in, users may experience an initial rush of nervousness and uncertainty, a tightening of the jaw, increased heart rate, sweating, and nausea
  • Some users have reported being left with painful ulcers in their mouth after taking MDMA
  • Women and those with a low metabolism (some 10% of the population), are likely to be much more sensitive to the drug
  • MDMA affects the body's natural thermostat. Dancing for long periods in a hot space such as a club increases the chances of users overheating and dehydrating
  • Drinking too much can be dangerous or even fatal. MDMA can cause the body to release a hormone that prevents the production of urine, so if you drink a lot too quickly, it interferes with your body's salt balance which can be just as deadly as not drinking enough water
  • After the effects have subsided, users can feel tired and depressed for days
  • There is some debate into to the long-term psychological effects of taking MDMA, including links to depression and memory impairment
  • Anyone with a heart condition, blood pressure problems, epilepsy or asthma can have a dangerous reaction to the drug.

The law and MDMA:

MDMA is a Class A drug; it is illegal to reproduce, supply, or possess it.

If you're planning to take MDMA:

  • To avoid overheating and dehydration - especially when dancing - users should take regular breaks and sip about a pint of non-alcoholic fluid such as water, fruit juice or isotonic sports drinks over the course of each hour
  • Try to avoid double-dosing by giving yourself time to 'come up' after each new dose you take
  • Do not mix alcohol with MDMA or other drugs.

Updated: 10/11/2009

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