Drug A - Z


Ecstasy (MDMA) or MethyleneDioxyMethAmphetamine, is a stimulant and an hallucinogen. It speeds up the central nervous system. Ecstasy is often used as a mood enhancer at parties and nightclubs. It is a synthetic drug usually sold as small tablets, in a variety of colours and sizes, but also comes in capsules or powder.

Ecstasy can be taken orally, snorted, injected or anally (as a suppository). Common slang terms for ecstasy include the ‘love drug’, ‘E’ and ‘eckies’. Ecstasy is usually swallowed as a tablet but can also come in powder form. Its effects begin around an hour after taking the drug and might last for up to 32 hours.

Ecstasy works by prompting the brain to initiate this ‘fight or flight’ response and the user feels refreshed by a burst of energy. Ecstasy’s hallucinogenic properties distort the user’s experience of reality by triggering hallucinations of both sight and sound.

Ecstasy can cause seizures and vomiting and may contribute to death as a result of heart attack, stroke, overheating or drinking too much water.

The effects of any drug vary from person to person.  It depends on many factors including an individual’s size, weight and health, how the drug is taken, how much is taken, whether the person is used to taking it, the person’s mood and whether other drugs are taken.  The effects also depend on the environment in which the drug is used – for example, whether the person is alone, with others, or in a social setting.

Immediate effects

  • rise in blood pressure, body temperature and pulse rate,
  • increased energy, urge to dance and move about
  • increased pulse, body temperature and blood pressure
  • empathy, closeness to others, feeling ‘loved up’
  • jaw clenching, teeth grinding
  • nausea and vomiting
  • touch sensitivity
  • strobe-like or jittery vision
  • sweating
  • anxiety
  • dehydration

As ecstasy causes a dangerous temperature increase it is important to keep sipping water to prevent dehydration.  Water does not reduce the effect of ecstasy, it only prevents dehydration.  Drinking too much water can be dangerous: drink 250 mls per hour – up to 500 mls only if very active.

In greater quantities

  • hallucinations
  • irrational behaviour
  • vomiting
  • convulsions
  • loss of appetite
  • insomnia
  • depression
  • muscle aches
  • difficulty concentration for up to a day after use

Long-term effects

  • possible damage to the brain, heart and liver
  • susceptibility to infections
  • emotionally vulnerable


Overdose of ecstasy is rare but can occur if you have too many pills or an allergic reaction.  Symptoms can include:

  • very high body temperature and blood pressure
  • collapsing, fainting
  • rapid heartbeat
  • possible hallucinations and convulsions
  • vomiting (sometimes people can vomit in early stages and this is not serious by itself, if it passes)
  • irrational behaviour

Death, although rare, can occur due to:

  • over-stimulation, leading to heart attack or brain haemorrhage
  • overheating, especially when dancing or during prolonged physical exertion
  • drinking too much (hyponatremia) causing the brain to swell


A substantial minority of those who use ecstasy regularly are likely, at some point, to become psychologically dependent ecstasy and will experience chronic problems in relation to their use of ecstasy.

Research into the long-term risks of ecstasy use has so far shown no conclusive evidence that people become physically dependent on ecstasy.


A recent overseas survey reports that a little over half of people who regularly use ecstasy report withdrawal symptoms such as

  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • depression
  • difficulty concentrating



Like all drugs, ecstasy may have the potential to cause harm to the unborn child and also harm to the baby whilst breastfeeding. Due to this, it is recommended to not use any level of ecstasy during pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding.

Ecstasy is a Class B drug. The maximum penalty for importation/ manufacture/supply is 14 years imprisonment and for possession 3 months jail and/or $500 fine.

It is illegal to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of any drug, including ecstasy. Breaking this law carries heavy penalties including disqualification from driving, fines and even imprisonment. It is advised that you do not drive after the consumption of any mood altering substance. You could put your own and other people’s lives at serious risk.