MDMA: What You Need To Know

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With the festival season winding down and the college year beginning, Orla Mahon breaks down everything you need to know about MDMA, and if using, how to reduce the risk of harm.

According to the Global Drugs Survey in 2017, Ireland is one of the world’s leading consumers of MDMA. Commonly used as a party drug, MDMA use has many effects that you should be aware of. Although not using at all is always the safest choice, following harm reduction guidance can lower the chance of serious harm.

What is it? MDMA, known under many names – yokes, molly, and ecstasy, to name a few – is a synthetic psychoactive drug. MDMA can come in the form of powder, crystal, or pressed into ecstasy pills. 

What’s in ecstasy pills? The active ingredient of ecstasy pills is MDMA. Bulking agents and binding agents help form the pill and hold it together. To ensure that the drug isn’t mixed with unexpected adulterants, it’s recommended to use a testing kit.

Testing kits: Reagent test kits can give information on what substances a drug contains. They are available online.

Mental effects: MDMA can make users feel euphoric and energised, and can increase feelings of empathy and affection. It can intensify and enhance sensory experiences, which is why many users take it at concerts and nightclubs. Some other effects of MDMA include feelings of anxiety, confusion, and paranoia.

Physical effects: Physical side effects of MDMA can include dilated pupils, tightening or moving your jaw, restlessness, a raised body temperature, and an increased heart rate. It can also cause users to have difficulty urinating.

How long do the effects last? The main effects of MDMA are usually felt for three to six hours, and the after-effects (or comedown) can be felt for up to three days.

Mixing drugs: Mixing drugs can cause unexpected results. It’s therefore recommended that if users are going to mix drugs, they should do research on any possible interactions before taking either substance. It is especially important to be mindful of taking MDMA alongside any other drug that can increase your heart rate – such as caffeine or cocaine. It is also dangerous to mix MDMA with any drug that has an impact on your serotonin levels, like many mental health medications. Make sure to do your research.

Staying hydrated: MDMA increases body temperature. As well as this, it’s also regularly taken in hot, busy environments. Drinking a pint of water every hour or so is highly recommended. 

Signs of overdose: Look out for overheating, severe vomiting, hallucinations, seizures, and a rapid heart rate. If any of these symptoms are detected, keep calm, get help, and contact emergency services.