Drugs and Alcohol (young people)
Ecstasy or MDMA (its chemical name) is a hallucinogenic amphetamine that comes in pill form or a powder that is snorted or dabbed on the gums. The effects can be felt after around 30 minutes and tend to last 3 to 6 hours, followed by a gradual ‘comedown’. As with all drugs, its effect in each individual person can be hard to predict. The amount and the purity of the substance you are taking and your own emotional state at the time will influence your experience.
The purity of ecstasy is an issue because it can be cut with other substances. Andi thought he had taken pills that were not pure and Daniel said he really enjoyed the ecstasy he took but thinks that it was probably heavily cut with aspirin.
Charlie describes the first time she tried ecstasy and the problem of impure ecstasy pills.
In the second half of the year, my parents were away one weekend. Two of my friends who had taken Ecstasy pills before had been mentioning MDMA for a while so I decided I wanted to try it. They’d been taking pills since college, but I’d never gone near it. I had friends who used cannabis in high school as well but I didn’t want to take it. I was interested in reading about it, though.
There’s a book called ‘Street Drugs’. I think it was written 1992, 1993 which is a tome of about 500 pages. It’s written by a drugs worker about all the drugs he had encountered, and the problems they caused but also the history of the drug’s use and where, the properties of the drugs as well. It was pretty balanced illustration of drugs' positives and negatives. I was quite well versed in drugs, I just didn’t have any particular desire to use them.
So it came to halfway through the first year of university – near Easter. So we went in for 2 grams of Ecstasy in powder form. I remember the powder being quite novel to them, I think it was when powder MDMA wasn’t so widespread as it is now. The pill market was rubbish at this point, they were really impure. And the powdered MDMA was sold at a reasonable price so we got some and took it when my parents were away.
Hugh has only ever used MDMA and only uses it at music festivals. His first use was when one of...
Hugh thinks that experimenting is part of the university experience. In the last two years he...
Young people have very mixed opinions and experiences when it comes to ecstasy. When Joe took ecstasy he felt elated and close to the group of friends he was with. Chloe described the feeling of being on ecstasy as so ‘amazing’ that she had to stop taking it, or risk making a regular habit of it. Craig took some MDMA on a camping trip and wasn't very impressed – he just felt a bit ‘floaty’.
Daniel who is an ex-drug user and alcoholic describes ecstasy/MDMA as a ‘fabulous’ experience for non-addicts, but he cannot risk using any drugs because of his problems with addiction. Charlie believes that ecstasy has helped her deal with emotional issues going on in her life.
Charlie thinks that ecstasy has helped her with her depression by showing her that you can see...
I always struggled with depression. I’ve had some manic spells, some long depressive spells. I don’t struggle so much with feeling bad for long periods of time so much now. In high school and through college I was having a really difficult time being happy.
And ecstasy - ecstasy taught me how to manage things. It’s one thing if you’re depressed to think “things are probably much better than I assume they are”, but you can’t really see them as being good. That goes even if you logically can see that there’s no reason to feel bad.
But with ecstasy, well, you take it when you’re otherwise depressed and you can see everything in a completely different way. You are actually seeing things as a happy person. And that helped to show me that you can see the world in different ways, maybe even control how you see it a bit. I noticed there were triggers that made me start thinking negatively about things, and there was stuff I could do to stop those triggers.
Ecstasy for me has been really helpful in showing me how to manage having moodswings, how to deal with getting depressed and getting manically happy. E put you in a place where everything is fine – even bad things. It removes any drama surrounding any issues you have and you can just see them in a rational light. It’s great.
I mean apart from that I have learnt to identify triggers which tend to make me think negative thoughts. And... I’ve learnt how to dupe like for example if I’m. Most of the time I was very, very tired for a lot of the time when I was at school. I wasn’t sleeping very well. I mean, you know I had a very bad diet but now I notice if I start to notice the patterns of those thoughts emerging over the course of a day and I tend to go to bed early or I tend to put on a comedy show on the TV or listen to something funny. Like I’ve learnt how to manage things a lot better and that isn’t something that I did before I took ecstasy. And ecstasy did say, it showed me, you know, like the things which you may have anxieties about - you don’t have to have anxieties about them. You know that isn’t an unchangeable part of you. Aging and experiencing more of life has obviously had its part to play but I think E has done a lot for me too.
Some of the people we spoke to who had used ecstasy had experienced negative as well as positive effects, especially after frequent use. They described problems like lack of energy and feeling depressed, anxious or paranoid. After taking ecstasy, users may feel very tired and low and need a long period of sleep to recover. This may last up to three or four days and is what’s known as the ‘comedown’.
Joe describes an ecstasy comedown' as the drug equivalent of a hangover.
Chloe liked the feeling she got from ecstasy but the comedowns from it put her off from doing it...
Harry has come to the conclusion that the euphoric feelings on ecstasy are not worth it because...
It’s covering up its just complete escapism like all drugs
Harry's comedowns from ecstasy became longer and were more emotionally charged. He started to...
Michelle used to go to raves and take lots of ecstasy. Looking back she thinks she took far too much and would look terrible the next day.
Harry thinks that his emotional problems were due to a combination of doing ecstasy and smoking cannabis.
Last reviewed July 2018.
Last updated: January 2015.