Why do people take ecstasy and what are the risks?

Ecstasy, also known as MDMA, is a street drug, also viewed as a ‘designer’ drug due to its relationship with dance and pop culture of the 80’s and 90’s. By the early 1980s, MDMA was being promoted as “the hottest thing in the continuing search for happiness through chemistry,” and the “in drug” for many weekend parties.

It remained legal in 1984, and was being sold under the brand name “Ecstasy,” yet by 1985, the drug had been banned due to safety concerns. It has hallucinogenic properties and its effects last 3 to 6 hours with a gradual comedown. It is an illegal substance classed as a schedule 1 drug, because it is a dangerous substance with no recognised medical uses.

Ecstasy is widely used amongst youth and is unfortunately one of the most popular drugs among the younger generation today, with an estimated 9 million users worldwide, with the vast majority being teenagers and young adults.

Ecstasy is commonly used in a ‘party’ atmosphere, such as night clubs. This is because it gives users an energetic buzz, provoking alertness and awareness that heightens senses so colours and sounds are more intense. A user can also experience temporary feelings of love and affection with the people they are with.

The short term effects of ecstasy are paranoia, panic attacks and anxiety. Impaired judgement, mainly the false sense of affection, is another short term effect, as well as nausea, blurred vision and muscle tension.

Ecstasy also Increases the heart rate and blood pressure, a particular risk for people with circulatory or heart disease.

Taking ecstasy can lead a person to be unaware of their state of mind or body. Drug Free World states that “Ecstasy smothers the natural alarm signals given out by the body.” A person who has taken ecstasy may be unaware if they are close to dehydration or overheating. Many users faint in clubs due to this.

As well as a physical dependence on ecstasy due to a built up tolerance, a person can also suffer a psychological dependency on ecstasy.

Through continuous use of ecstasy, a user can suffer from brain damage. It can also have an impact on a person’s memory and can cause depression, kidney failure and at worst, death.
Through the mixing of alcohol and ecstasy, a person is at high risk of dehydration and sometimes death. Ecstasy can cause the body to release a hormone which stops it making urine. Drink too quickly and it affects your body’s salt balance, which can be as deadly as not drinking enough water.

Talk To Frank states that “there have been many deaths involving Ecstasy. Between 1996 and 2012 in England & Wales there were 577 deaths in which ecstasy/MDMA was recorded on the death certificate”

Hazardous outcomes of ecstasy involve the likes of liver failure, dehydration, drug poisoning and irreparable damage to the nervous system.

Ecstasy is often an impure substance, therefore it is not uncommon for the drug to be mixed with substances such as rat poison.

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