Street Names:

Ecstasy, “XTC,” “E,” “X,” “hug drug,” “MDMA” and “Adam”

“People don’t realize how bad it is for your body and mind when you just pop one in your mouth. When you’re on drugs that make you feel as good as this, it comes to a point when you just don’t care anymore. It Happened To Me (Click for the complete story.)


Chemical Composition:

Ecstasy/MDMA is 3,4- Methylenedioxymethamphetamine. The synthetic drugs are produced in clandestine laboratories with the purity and potency unknown. Chemically it is similar to the stimulant methamphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline.

PMA (paramethoxyamphetamine) is a stimulant and synthetic hallucinogen that is similar to Ecstasy but more toxic.


Ecstasy/MDMA has both stimulant and hallucinogenic effects. The user begins to feel the effects within 1 hour of ingestion, and the effects may last up to 6 hours.

The effects of the drug diminish with repeated doses, but the intensity of the after-effects increase with successive doses. Other drugs are often used to block the after-effects. GHB is a drug sometimes used to counter the feelings of over-stimulation.

Most tablets have different logos: Mitsubishi, elephants, “E,” Rolex symbol, Pink Panther, Adidas symbol, butterfly, lightening bolt, and four-leaf clover; but some do not have logos.

Methods of Use:

Ecstasy/MDMA is generally taken orally in tablets but can be snorted, smoked, injected or taken as suppositories. If it is used as a suppository, it has a slower onset but produces a more intense and prolonged effect.

Users experiment by “stacking” (taking three or more tablets at one time) or “piggy-backing” (taking multiple tablets over a short period of time).

Ecstasy is used at “rave” parties, in nightclubs, on college campuses and in homes (“rolling houses”) with several couples. It produces euphoria, increased energy, increased sensual (sexual) arousal, increased desire to be touched or hugged and increased need for stimulation. Ecstasy is known as the “hug drug” or “feel good” drug.

Parties are marketed with flyers distributed in shopping malls, clothing, music and specialty stores and the Internet. The parties are advertised as being “alcohol-free.” No one under the age of 24 is permitted. The parties are billed as “Techno Music” or Electro-Rock.

Paraphernalia associated with Ecstasy use:

Pacifiers, Blo-Pop suckers, Popsicle sticks are used to absorb the force produced by tight jaw muscles and grinding teeth. Candy is used as a camouflage: M&Ms, Skittles, Tootsie-Rolls, candy necklaces, and Altoids containers. Glo-Sticks, RaverToys are familiar items used for stimulation. Bottled water is important because of the sweating and dehydration caused by Ecstasy, and promoters of “rave” parties frequently inflate the prices for bottled water. Surgical masks with Vick’s Vapo-Rub coated on the inside and Vick’s Vapo-Inhalers enhance the effects of the drug. Enema bottles are used to inject the drug into the body and/or to inject cold water into the body to cool it down.


Ecstasy/MDMA can cause overheating, severe dehydration, heat stroke, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and loss of consciousness or seizures. In some cases, death from heat stroke or heart failure may occur.

“The paramedics asked if our daughter was ill, did she have a history of seizures or was she on any medication. No was the answer to all three questions. When we got to the emergency room, I couldn’t see her at first because they were trying to work on her. A nurse told me, however, that her temperature was 108 degrees.” It Happened To My Child (Click for the complete story.)


Ecstasy users risk significant brain damage; damage that is evident through brain scans showing actual holes in the brain. The brain of a young person having used Ecstasy is similar to that of a 60 to 70-year old who has had a number of strokes.

Ecstasy/MDMA may cause permanent brain damage by “pruning” the ends of the serotonin neurons (nerve cells) in the brain resulting in fewer viable synaptic connections, making it difficult to communicate with other neurons. Serotonin affects mood. Long-term use may result in permanent brain damage, depression, psychosis and learning and memory impairment.

Research suggests Ecstasy use increase the risk of developing Parkinsonism, a disease similar to Parkinson, later in life. In these cases Ecstasy is shown to destroy dopamine neurons, the chemical messenger that is involved in controlling movement, emotional and cognitive responses and the ability to feel pleasure.

It can cause psychological problems such as confusion, anxiety, and paranoia, and these effects can last for weeks. Ecstasy can cause depression that lasts for days after use; it is commonly referred to as “Black Tuesday” or “Suicide Tuesday.”

It can cause nausea, faintness, and muscle cramping. Pupils and bronchi may become dilated. Users experience tight jaw muscles and grinding of teeth.



“Pharmacology of ‘Club Drugs’: Ecstasy, GHB, and Ketamine”
David V. Gauvin, Ph.D.
Drug and Chemical Evaluation Section
Office of Diversion Control
Drug Enforcement Administration
Washington, D.C.

“MDMA (Ecstasy) Fact Sheet”
Drug Policy Information Clearinghouse / July 2001
Executive Office of the President
Office of National Drug Control Policy

“An Overview of Club Drugs”
Drug Intelligence Brief / February 2000
Intelligence Division
Drug Enforcement Administration
Washington, D.C.

“The Hallucinogen PMA: Dancing With Death”|
Drug Intelligence Brief / October 2000
Intelligence Division
Drug Enforcement Administration
Washington, D.C.

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