MDMA (ecstasy) is an illicit drug which can give users a euphoric rush after swallowing it. It has a reputation as a happy pill, but MDMA has dangerous side effects.
People have died from taking MDMA in places where it is hot or humid, such as at a dance party or nightclub.
What is MDMA?
MDMA is a stimulant drug that speeds up the messages going to and from the brain.
It is assumed that MDMA is the primary ingredient in ecstasy, however not all drugs sold as ecstasy contain MDMA.
Other drugs or ‘fillers’, such as household cleaning products, might be used instead, increasing your chance of an overdose, bad reaction or poisoning. Drugs sold as ecstasy may also contain a mix of amphetamine, paramethoxyamphetamine (PMA), ketamine or other drugs.
MDMA (ecstasy) has lots of other names, including eckies, E, disco biscuits, bikkies, XTC, pills, pingers and molly. It usually comes as a pill in a variety of colours, often with different stamps or logos on them.
MDMA starts to work about 20 minutes after it is taken. Some people hallucinate, sweat, clench their jaws, grind their teeth and have tremors.
People can overheat and become dehydrated when using ecstasy in hot and humid conditions. Some people have died in this way. Drinking lots of water may be dangerous. People who take MDMA should take regular breaks to cool down, and sip water slowly.
The effects can last for up to 8 hours.
Combining MDMA with other drugs or medicines — including some antidepressants — can be dangerous.
People coming down from an ecstasy high can feel exhausted, anxious and unable to sleep. These effects can last a few days.
People who use MDMA regularly can develop high blood pressure, damaged nerves, exhaustion and cracked teeth from clenching and grinding.
People with heart disease, diabetes, epilepsy, liver problems, high blood pressure, panic attacks or a history of mental illness are at greater risk of physical and psychological harm as a result of taking MDMA.
Find out about ecstasy's mental health effects and party drugs. You can find information on getting help on the Drug Help website or by calling the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015.
Last reviewed: January 2019