Ecstasy is a derivative of methamphetamine (the active ingredient is 3, 4- methylenedioxymethamphetamine, abbreviated to MDMA). It has both stimulant and hallucinogenic properties.
Ecstasy usually comes as a tablet, in a variety of colours and sizes, sometimes marked with a design or logo (brands such as Mitsubishi and Calvin Klein have been found stamped on ecstasy tablets). Pills that look the same, even pills stamped with the same logo, are not necessarily of the same quality—they may contain varying amounts of other substances besides MDMA, including methamphetamine, ketamine, other substances chemically related to MDMA, and legal substances such as caffeine.
MDMA was first synthesised in 1912 and patented in 1914, but it found no widespread use until the 1970s when it was used in psychotherapy to help patients 'get in touch with their feelings'. In a controlled medical environment, it appeared to have only moderate effects and to be relatively safe.
By the 1980s, the term 'ecstasy' was coined and the drug was being used recreationally. Around this time it became a prohibited substance.
Use the following websites to find information about specific drugs, including their long and short term effects, how they are used, legal status and information on mixing drugs.
Journal articles are a good source of explanations and discussions of drug and alcohol issues. There are several eresources with links to journal articles available in the State Library.