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practical information about ecstasy

(This flyer (1996) is archived as a historical record. Information may be out of date.
For more up to date information, see the main MDMA Vault.)

The multifaceted jewel

Ecstasy catalyzes a powerful experience that takes many different forms.

It can provoke an intense, energetic, spiritual high or lead to warm, loving relaxation. It can connect people freely and openly with each other or promote deep inner thinking and analysis. Sensual yet not necessarily sexual, beautiful and sometimes dangerous, Ecstasy covers a wide range of human emotions, experiences, and passions. What you put into it is what you get out, so be sure to explore the many facets of the experience.

Those little annoying side effects

Although some people say it has no side effects, Ecstasy is not the perfect drug. Users have reported a variety of mild physical symptoms such as jaw clenching, teeth grinding, eye wiggles, tightened muscles, sweating, chills, increased heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature, auditory effects, nausea, shaking, and next-day sleepiness. Occasionally it can cause toxic reactions in people with asthma, heart conditions, diabetes, epilepsy, psychosis, or depression. Remember, Ecstasy is a powerful drug. Treat it -- and your body -- with respect.

As time passes...

Myths abound concerning Ecstasy's effects after repeated usage. Most claims (such as that it causes Parkinsons disease or drains spinal fluid) actually refer to other drugs or common misconceptions. Although scientists suspect some nerve terminal damage and neurotransmitter depletion in the brain based on animal research, the true long-term effects and implications remain a mystery until further human research becomes legal. By avoiding the temptation to use Ecstasy too frequently, you can lessen the risk and have more fun.

Less is more

An active dose of Ecstasy depends on ones body weight, sensitivity, and prior use. A typical "hit" contains 75-125 milligrams. Over 175 milligrams increases side effects for many users. Taking a larger dose does not necessarily mean a better experience -- it may be more "speedy," but less ecstatic.


The chemical name for Ecstasy is "methylenedioxymethamphetamine," or "MDMA" for short. Although it is derived from organic material, MDMA itself does not occur in nature, and must be created in a complex laboratory process.

MDMA was designed in 1914 by the Merck Company of Germany. However, it was not used until the early 1970s when some therapists believed that it helped people to bring out their true feelings in a peaceful and open manner. For many years, Ecstasy (known then as "ADAM") remained legal, known only among a fairly small group of people.

In the mid-1980s, Ecstasy exploded into the nightclub scene in Texas and Britain. Fearing possible health risks, all scientific, therapeutic, and recreational use by humans was banned by the United States and British governments by 1986. Despite the objections of scientists, doctors, and even judges, it was classified along with marijuana, LSD, and heroin as a drug with no recognized medical use and high abuse potential.

In 1992, the Food and Drug Administration permitted a group of researchers in California to study the short-term effects of Ecstasy on human health. The study is not yet completed. (The SF Examiner published an article
about this study.)

Some tips for Ecstasy users

  • Drink lots of water to replenish body fluids.
  • From time to time, stop moving, take deep breaths and relax.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle: eat a balanced diet, take vitamins, and get plenty of sleep.
  • Remember: Less is more. Large or frequent doses can increase the side effects without adding to the experience.
  • Much of what is sold as Ecstasy is not pure MDMA. Be cautious of what you buy and who you buy from. Impurities may include amphetamine, LSD, heroin, or PCP.
  • Alcohol can reduce or change the effects of Ecstasy, and the combination can cause undesired effects.
  • Integrate what youve learned. Think about your thoughts and feelings and try to apply them to real life.

Stay informed

Useful facts about drugs can be hard to find among the anti-drug hype. Here are some excellent references:
  • Ecstasy: The MDMA Story by Bruce Eisner (Ronin Press) contains a good overview of the history, effects, use, science, and politics of MDMA. Try asking your local bookstore to order it.
  • PIHKAL: A Chemical Love Story by Ann & Alexander Shulgin (Transform Press) is a novel about psychedelic chemicals and experiences, including MDMA.
  • Pursuit of Ecstasy: The MDMA Experience by Jerome Beck and Marsha Rosenbaum (forthcoming from SUNY Press) describes patterns of MDMA use in the 1970s and 1980s.
  • Xochi Speaks, a full-color educational poster and booklet, provides practical info on MDMA and eleven other psychedelic substances. Send a stamped, self-addressed envelope for details to Lord Nose!, P.O. Box 170473R, San Francisco, CA 94117. (A Hypercard stack containing excerpts from the poster and booklet is also available.)
  • The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) funds scientific research on MDMA and has publications available about MDMA and other psychedelic drugs. Write to MAPS, 1801 Tippah Avenue, Charlotte, NC 28205. (More information about MAPS is available online.)
We hope this flyer helps provide useful information and removes some of the mysteries. Please be careful and responsible; learn from your experiences. Together, we can make this a better world for everyone.

The publishers and distributors of this flyer do not condone or encourage drug use. Its none of our business if you use drugs or not, but if you do, be careful. And remember:

drink lots of water.

The making of info-e