Alcohol & Drugs
A picture of Ecstasy/MDMA

What’s the deal with ecstasy/MDMA?

Ecstasy is a stimulant drug with hallucinogenic properties. The active constituent in a pinger is the drug formelry known as MDMA. Whether it's as a capsule or in pill form, the amount of MDMA in a single dose of ecstacy will vary widely. From trace amounts to none at all, depending on how that particular batch of the drug was manufactured.

It's highly possible that manufacturers of ecstasy or MDMA will cut their product with other drugs or substance referred to as fillers. Fillers often range from household cleaning products through to petrochemicals, substances that are otherwise considered harmful to the body.

How does it work?

Pingers, biscuits, ecstasy, MDMA - these guys are found mostly in capsule, pill or powdered forms. Although some users will choose to cut (then snort, shelve and even inject) ecstasy or MDMA, the most common way to take a pill is to injest it.

In tablet form, ecstasy or MDMA will tend to vary in its size, shape or colour. Often stamped or imprinted with a signature icon, particular batches become known for their stamp and widely referred to as such.

Effects

There is no such thing as a safe level of drug use. Substance use carries risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any drug. Snorting, shelving or swallowing the drug may vary the length of time for effects to be felt. Ecstasy and MDMA may have different effects on different people based on:

  • A person’s body weight
  • General state of health
  • Regular use of substance
  • If taken in combination with other drugs including prescription medication
  • The amount that is consumed
  • Quality of the drug (this varies from batch to batch for most illicit drugs)

Short Term Effects

The desired effects of MDMA are felt somewhere between 20 minutes to an hour after the drug has been taken and can last upwards of 6 hours on the body. Pingers may lead to any of the following:

  • Increased confidence and feelings of euphoria
  • Dilated pupils
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Clenching/grinding of the jaw and teeth
  • Heightened sensory awareness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea and reduction in appetite
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased risk of dehydration
  • Heat stroke

Long Term Effects

Long term or regular use of ecstasy and MDAM may eventually cause:

  • Depression
  • Memory loss and cognitive impairment
  • Drug dependency
  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Reduced kidney and liver function
  • An increased risk of stroke

Coming Down

Coming down off Ecstacy/MDMA can be pretty hard. It's quite the low, but what goes up must come down.  You'll be feeling all sorts of feelings while coming down, don't go thinking it's all over, your mental health is going through a come down and the feelings pass in time. 

Comedown feelings might include:

  • feeling restless, irritable and anxious
  • paranoia
  • depression
  • radical mood swings
  • lethargy
  • exhaustion
  • increased sleep
  • anger

Your body has probably been through quite a bit as well, so what can you do to look after yourself?

Here are a few tips:

  • Firstly make sure you eat heaps before you use. It really helps. Keep eating too!
  • Make sure your fridge is stocked before you use, so you can easily make food when you are partying as well as coming down. Nutrition is really important.
  • Keep hydrated, drink plenty of water.
  • Consider planning a day or two off work to comedown so that you don't mess up with your job by taking lots of sickies.
  • If you are on any HIV meds or PrEP, put a reminder in your phone so you don't forget to take them. Take a few days worth of meds out with you if you are having a big weekend. Also check out the section below on drug interactions for people living with HIV.
  • Pamper yourself and do the things that make you feel safe and comfy. Hot shower, bath time, hanging out with friends, sleeping and watching trashy TV.
  • Relax with some chilled music, this is a good playlist: LISTEN HERE
  • Sometimes, coming down makes you feel a bit emotional, having a cry is totally ok and can kind of help shift the feelings. Why not let Annie and all these unicorns and fairies hold this space for you for a moment and if you still feel a bit down, call a friend or get support HERE.

Safety

If you're going to use any form of drug, go about it safely. You make the choices that determine what substances you put into your body. Whatever the choice - remember to be safe and responsible - with yourself and with others.

We've got some helpful tips to consider.

  • Set limits for yourself, and stick to them
  • Don’t let other people pressure you into doing drugs
  • Try to avoid mixing drugs with other drugs or be informed about the risks
  • Try to be aware of exactly what you are taking and how much 
  • Eat before you party and stay hydrated with water
  • If you are going out for a big night, leave your bank cards at home and set a cash limit for yourself, leaving enough to get home by taxi
  • Tell some trusted friends what you're planning to do

Safer Injecting

When injecting, it’s important to use a clean fit and avoid sharing injecting equipment with others. Blood borne viruses such as Hepatitis B, C and HIV can be transmitted by sharing sharps. Be aware of where your blood ends up. It may remain on or in needles but it can also wind up anywhere from the backs of your hands to the top of the table. You can’t always see blood so don’t assume that just because you can’t see it - it isn’t there. Make sure you wash your hands and clean the area where you've prepped to inject. Injecting drug use and the sharing of equipment may increase your risk of:

  • Vein damage and permanent scarring
  • Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Tetanus and HIV transmission
  • Deep vein thrombosis and clots – this may result in the loss of limbs, damage to organs, stroke and possibly even death

Overdose

Large doses or a strong batch of ecstasy/MDMA may result in overdose. Drugs that are manufactured illicitly and sold on the street may vary in strength. They are also likely to be cut or diluted with other substances that are otherwise considered harmful to the body. If you, or someone you know is feeling any of the following effects - call for an ambulance immediately. You do this simply by dialling triple zero (000). Ambulance officers are not obliged to involve the police.

If a large amount or a strong batch of ecstasy is consumed the following may also be experienced:

  • An irregular or racing heart beat
  • High body temperature
  • Convulsions
  • Hypertension and difficult breathing
  • Passed or passing out
  • Symptoms of heart attack and stroke

Mixing with Other Drugs

The effect of taking ecstasy or MDMA in combination with other drugs including over-the-counter or prescribed medication is unpredictable and dangerous.

Ecstasy + Alcohol may increase your risk of dehydration or consequently it may result in the drinking of too much water.

Ecstasy + Amphetamine may increase the potential for anxiety and reduced brain functioning. This is due to the depletion of dopamine in the brain. Enormous strain is also placed on the heart and body and this has the potential to lead to stroke.

Ecstasy + Antidepressants can lead to unpleasant effects such as increased heart rate, loss of coordination, nausea and vomiting.

Living with HIV

Let's be frank, recreational drug use (whether it's legal or not) is likely to interact or even interfere with the treatment regime of a person living with HIV. Changes in the concentration of ARV's is a result of two or more drugs interacting. These changes in concentration are known to be the very thing which ultimatley leads to treatment failure and toxicity.  

If you're HIV+ and a recreational user, check in regularly with your GP or an experienced HIV medical practitioner. Know your limits, know your body and be aware of the impact that other substances may have on your treatment.

Interactions with HIV Medications

If you take protease inhibitors as part of your HIV treatment when you throw ecstasy in to the mix it can potentially elevate the amount of ecstasy in your system. This will increase significantly the negative side effect of the drug and has the potential of being fatal.

Taking Hormones

For trans, gender diverse or intersex people who are taking some form of hormone therapy, it's important to be aware and informed of how your body processes these treatments.

Currently, there is limited information into the interactions and cross interactions of hormone therapy and recreational drug use but that doesn't mean we'll stop asking for it. Whether your hormones are prescribed by a doctor or you've sourced them yourself from the internet, make it a priority to get regular health checks. Sometimes, a change in dosage or preparation of hormones is needed and a qualified medical practitioner is the person best placed to advise you of this.

If you're not comfortable talking about your gender, gender identity or bodily difference with your doctor, get in touch and we can make recommendations for a service that is best placed to support your needs.

Interactions with Hormones

We don't know of any negative interactions between ecstasy or MDMA and hormone treatments. This does not mean that it is safe. Exercise caution when mixing any form of drugs.

Treatment

Been going a little too hard lately? If your ecstasy/MDMA use has begun to have a negative impact on your overall health or your relationships with family and friends, your ability to focus on work or study or perhaps even the bottom line on your bank account - it's time to TouchBase with somebody who can help.

There are a number of treatment options and support services available for you, for your family or friends if they need it. Whatever your recovery goals are, if it is to control, reduce or stop, reach out for some support.

Counselling & Support

Counselling can be provided individually or in a group situation, and is available to people who use alcohol or other drugs, and to their family members or support people. A support service can offer counselling or direct you to a service appropriate for you. Speak to your doctor, alcohol and other drugs treatment service or local community health service.

Find help and support services.

Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation programs take a long term approach to treatment to help you achieve your goals with your alcohol or other drug use. Residential withdrawal is also available from some treatment services.

Find out more about withdrawal.

Complementary therapies

These include treatments such as massage and relaxation therapies, which can be useful to help you manage withdrawal symptoms. 

Peer support 

These programs are provided for people who use alcohol and other drugs, and their family members or support person/s. 

Pharmacotherapy

Substitution pharmacotherapy is the use of medication to replace a harmful drug. This is given as a legal, measured, prescribed dose of a drug, and helps take away cravings so that you can work on other issues that will help you to recover.

Pharmacotherapy is only available for withdrawal from some drugs. For example, buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone are used in the treatment of opioid dependence.

Your doctor or treatment service can give you more information about what is available to help you.

Withdrawal & Rehab

Giving up ecstasy after using it for a long time is challenging because the body has to get used to functioning without it. Withdrawal symptoms should settle down after a week and will mostly disappear after a month. Symptoms include:

  • Generalised aches and pain
  • Exhaustion and restless sleep 
  • Anxiety and depression
Important notice

Please note: The information given on this page is not medical advice and should not be relied upon in that way. Individuals wanting medical advice about Ecstasy/MDMA should consult a health professional.