What is Ecstasy?
is a semi-synthetic drug patented by Merck Pharmaceutical Company in 1914 and abandoned
for 60 years. In the late 1970s and early 1980s psychiatrists and psychotherapists in
the US used it to facilitate psychotherapy.
In 1985 its growing recreational use caused
the DEA to criminalize it.
Ecstasy's effects last 3 to 6 hours. It is a mood elevator that produces feelings of
empathy, openness and well-being. People who take it at all night "rave" dances say
they enjoy dancing and feeling close to others. It does not produce violence or
What are the greatest risks from Ecstasy?
Death is a possibility when using MDMA. According to coroner reports, there were nine
Ecstasy-related deaths (three of these involved Ecstasy alone) in 1998.
Some of these deaths are related to overheating. MDMA
slightly raises body temperature. This is potentially lethal in hot environments where
there is vigorous dancing and the lack of adequate fluid replacement.
Many of these tragic deaths were preventable with simple harm reduction techniques
such as having free water available and rooms where people can rest and relax.
One of the recent risks associated with Ecstasy is the possibility of obtaining adulterated
drugs that may be more toxic than MDMA. Some of the reported deaths attributed to Ecstasy
are likely caused by other, more dangerous drugs.
Deaths from adulterated drugs are another consequence of a zero tolerance approach. While
we do not encourage Ecstasy use, we recommend that the drug be tested for purity to minimize
the risk from adulterated drugs by those who consume it.
However, MDMA itself has risks.
For example, it raises blood pressure and heart rate. Persons with known cardiovascular
or heart disease should not take MDMA.
Recent studies have indicated that individuals who have used MDMA may have decreased
performance in memory tests compared to nonusers. These studies are presently
controversial because they involved people who used a variety of other drugs. Furthermore,
it is difficult to rule out possible pre-existing differences between research subjects
What is a rave?
Raves are all-night dance parties popular with young people that feature electronic
music. A variety of drug use, from alcohol to nicotine, including ecstasy, occurs
at raves. Hysteria is leading to criminalization of raves, thus
pushing them underground and into less safe and responsible settings.
Let's deal with legal and illegal drugs knowledgeably, understand
their relative dangers, act prudently and avoid hysteria.
For more information, visit: www.csdp.org,
Common Sense for Drug Policy,
Kevin B. Zeese, President, 703-354-9050, 703-354-5695 (fax), firstname.lastname@example.org
1,3 & 4 -
Greer G. and Tolbert R., A Method of Conducting Therapeutic Sessions with MDMA. In Journal
of Psychoactive Drugs 30 (1998) 4: 371.379. For research on the therapeutic use of MDMA see:
Beck J. and Rosenbaum M., Pursuit of Ecstasy: The MDMA Experience. Albany: State University
of New York Press, 1994.
Drug Abuse Warning Network, Office of Applied Studies, Substance
Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Report of March 21, 2000. (This was a
special report because the published report only includes drugs where there were over 10
C. M. Milroy; J. C. Clark; A. R. W. Forrest, Pathology of deaths associated with
"ecstasy" and "eve" misuse, Journal of Clinical Pathology Vol 49 (1996) 149-153.
Pill Analysis Program, DanceSafe. For results visit
See also, Byard RW et al., Amphetamine derivative fatalities in South Australia— is
"Ecstasy" the culprit?, American Journal of Forensic Medical Pathology, 998
(Sep) 19( 3): 261-5.
DanceSafe provides testing equipment and a testing service which can be used to determine what a substance is.
E. Gouzoulis-Mayfrank; J. Daumann; F. Tuchtenhagen; S. Pelz; S. Becker; H. J. Kunert;
B. Fimm; H. Sass; Impaired cognitive performance in drug-free users of recreational
ecstasy (MDMA), by Journal Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry Vol 68, June 2000, 719-725;
K. I. Bolla; U. D.; McCann; G. A. Ricaurte; Memory impairment in abstinent MDMA (' Ecstasy')
users, by Neurology Vol 51, Dec 1998, 1532-1537.