Ecstasy (MDMA)

MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, also known as Ecstasy) is a semisynthetic member of the amphetamine class of psychoactive drugs.
What is MDMA
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What is MDMA

MDMA (3,4-methylene-dioxy-methamphetamine), also known as ‘Ecstasy’, is a semi-synthetic member of the amphetamine class of psychoactive drugs.

Although there are some similarities between amphetamines and MDMA the effects can be markedly different due to MDMA's greater effect on serotonin. Some users describe MDMA as a 'trippy speed' as MDMA can produce both stimulant and hallucinogenic effects.

The popularity of ecstasy has increased substantially over the last 20 years, both in Australia and other places. This increase was mainly within the dance scene but more recently has also become more common in everyday circumstances such as staying at home or going to a party.

After cannabis, MDMA is the second most commonly used illicit drug in Australia with about 11% of 20-29 year olds having used the drug in the last 12 months.


MDMA was originally developed by Merck Pharmaceuticals in 1914 as an appetite suppressant although they never marketed the drug. It was ‘rediscovered’ by Dr Alexander Shulgin in 1965 and, in the 1970s, was used as an adjunct in psychotherapy. MDMA has been illegal in Australia since 1986.

A brief timeline is also available on Erowid here.

Street Names

MDMA is also known as ecstasy, E, Adam, eccies, love drug, disco biscuits, pills, XTC (and many others...)


What does MDMA look like?

Ecstasy is usually sold in powder or tablet form. Tablets are typically imprinted with popular culture symbols such as a smiley face or a brand logo.

There are a number of websites that provide information about different pills including Pill Reports and Bluelight.

Just because a pill is stamped with the same design as another, doesn’t mean it contains the same thing. Appearance is not an indicator and in fact you can never be sure what you are actually buying. Analysis of siezed tablets in Australia has demonstrated that many times the pill will contain little or no MDMA. Other drugs found in pills sold as Ecstasy have included MDMA analogues (such as MDA MDEA and MDBD), amphetamines, ketamine, caffeine, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. Estimates vary wildly (somewhere between 20 - 80%) regarding the number of pills sold within Australia that actually contain MDMA.

MDMA pill

How is MDMA used?
Ecstasy is usually taken orally.

Although the injection of ecstasy is becoming more common, it is still low in prevalence. Injecting is a major risk as not only is it associated with harms such as collapsed veins, abscesses and damage to body organs, but it also carries the risk of blood borne viruses such as HIV and Hepatitis C. The injection of any unfiltered illict or tablet form substance is highly risky.

Other less common forms of use include snorting (insufflating) crushed tablets or smoking it together with cannabis. Like with all drugs, the way that you use them will have an impact on both the potency of effect of the drug, and the time it will take to reach peak effect.

MDMA pill
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