Commonly used names include E’s, New Yorkers, doves, disco burgers, dolphins. Chemical name is MDMA (methylenedioxy-methylamphetamine).

The law:
Ecstasy (MDMA) is a Class A drug.

How it is taken:
Ecstasy usually comes in tablet form. These can be different shapes, sizes or colours, but are often white.


Ecstasy is a stimulant, and its effects can last from three to six hours.

Users can appear alert and highly sociable, and may also feel highly energetic and able to dance for hours (see risks.)

Their experience of sound, colour and emotions can seem more intense. However, they can also appear irritable and display mood-swings.

The comedown, during which users can feel tired and depressed, can last for several days.


Ecstasy’s effects are unpredictable. A small percentage of the population may be extremely sensitive to the drug. For some people a single dose could be lethal

Ecstasy can cause irritability, mood swings, weight loss and in some cases heart failure and death.

By 1998 there had been about 60 ecstasy-related deaths in the UK.

The longer-term risks of ecstasy use are still largely unknown. There is growing evidence that ecstasy use can alter the chemistry of a user’s brain, with potentially serious consequences in later life. There is also evidence linking ecstasy to liver and kidney problems. Until more is known, ecstasy users are in effect human guinea-pigs

Tablets sold as ecstasy can contain drugs other than MDMA (ecstasy’s chemical name). These include drugs such as MDEA, a chemically related drug, and caffeine, which have different effects.

Counterfeit tablets are sold widely. Ecstasy can produce effects such as tightening of the jaw, sweating, nausea and an increase in the heart-rate as it starts to work

Ecstasy’s effects on the body’s temperature control can lead to heart failure and death. Ecstasy users can feel energetic and able to dance for hours. However, dancing for long periods of time in hot conditions increases their chance of overheating and dehydrating, particularly if they do not take regular breaks and sip about a pint of non-alcoholic fluid per hour. Drinking too much fluid after taking ecstasy is also dangerous.