The Effects of Ecstasy - short term and long term
Ecstasy is all things to all people. According to users the effects of ecstasy are rarely the same twice and are rarely the same for two different people.
One first time user will report having had the most fantastic experience of their lives. Another will say the drug gave them an initial high then left them feeling hot, sick and drowsy.
Hardened users have described it as like a mixture of amphetamine and weakened LSD. The effects of taking a moderate dose usually start after 20 minutes and can last for up to six hours.
Many users feel an initial rush of adrenaline followed by a strange combination of calm and energy - people who take the drug anally say it is 30% more effective!
Loss of anger, empathy with others and enhanced euphoria are common. Some users also say they are far more aware of their surroundings, have a greater appreciation of music and experience increased sexual and sensual awareness.
On the down side the pupils can become dilated, the jaw tightens and the mouth and throat will become dry as the user starts to sweat more (as a result of prolonged dancing or toher activity). The blood pressure and heart rate increase and a loss of appetite are common.
Some users have bad experiences and this is usually down to high dosage, or a bad E, which doesn't contain pure methylenedioxymethamphetamine, MDMA.
Adverse effects include feeling anxious and panicky, confused and disorientated. These feelings can last for days and in some cases weeks. Some people may even experience hallucinations and suffer from depression.
Physically ecstasy can cause muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, dehydration, heart attack, kidney failure and an increase in body temperature.
The general consensus is that ecstasy is not physically addictive. Psychologically it can become an emotional crutch for some people as they begin to rely on the feelings of euphoria and calmness.
Long Term Effects of Ecstasy
But for many users the benefits outweigh the risks. A study of long term users conducted by John Moores University in Liverpool , England , showed that people were aware of the associated health risks but chose to ignore them. Long term users rated the drug effects less positively than new users, they were still sufficiently happy to continue using.
However Alan Leshner, director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, says: "This is not a benign fun drug. Repeated ecstasy exposure has been shown to lead to clear brain damage." The jury is out on this one. The majority of trials have been carried out on animals and the statistics from research studies on humans are too limited to either back up or rubbish the claim.
Some scientists report that the drug may have some benefits in strictly limited cases. Charles Grob, a psychiatrist at Harbor UCLA Medical Centre, believes ecstasy may be able to help terminally ill cancer patients deal with their depression.
Trials are currently underway in Spain and Israel to assess ecstasy's effectiveness in treating post traumatic stress disorder - although legalised medical use of ecstasy is a long way off.