Ecstasy (MDMA) facts

In this article, we take a closer look at ecstasy (MDMA), what it is, how it is used, the side effects of ecstasy use and more.

What is ecstasy?

Methyl​enedioxy​ methamphetamine (MDMA), also known as ecstasy, is a manufactured stimulant and psychedelic drug that produces energising effects and can make a person feel ‘loved-up’ and alert.

However, these effects vary from person to person, with some people also experiencing anxiety, panic, and paranoia.

Ecstasy (MDMA) is commonly used recreationally at festivals and clubs and can be extremely dangerous, as illegally-manufactured ecstasy often contains other substances including methamphetamine, ketamine, cocaine, cathinones (synthetic stimulants) and caffeine.

What are the street names for ecstasy (MDMA)?

Some of the most common street names for ecstasy (MDMA) include:

  • Adam
  • E
  • XTC
  • Disco Burgers
  • Dennis the Menace
  • Diamonds
  • Fantasy
  • Doves
  • New Yorkers
  • Yellow Submarines
  • Snowball
  • Echoes

What does ecstasy look like?

Ecstasy tablets are sold illegally in a variety of colours, designs, and shapes, including smiley faces.

MDMA is usually sold in a powdered form.

How is ecstasy used?

In pill form, ecstasy is typically ingested (swallowed) but may also be crushed and snorted.

MDMA powder is either snorted or dabbed onto the gums.

How do people behave when they take ecstasy?

How a person feels and behaves after using ecstasy (MDMA) can vary, depending on the person.

As the name implies, in some people these drugs instil a feeling of happiness that can cause them to feel ‘loved-up’ and more affectionate toward the people around them – even strangers.

However, ecstasy (MDMA) can also cause feelings of panic, confusion, paranoia, anxiety and even psychosis.

What are the side effects of ecstasy?

The physical side effects can also vary and depend on several factors, including how the drug is ingested, frequency of use, and the metabolism and weight of the person.

Some common side effects include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Tightening of the jaw muscles (gurning)
  • Raised body temperature
  • Increased heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Tingling sensations
  • Overheating and dehydration

Long-term use has been linked to kidney, heart, and liver problems.

People with heart conditions, high blood pressure, epilepsy and asthma are also at an increased risk of experiencing a dangerous reaction to these substances.

What happens when you drink alcohol while taking ecstasy?

Drinking alcohol can slow the removal of MDMA from the body, leading to more serious side effects or more severe reactions to the drug.

Combining alcohol and ecstasy can also lead to impaired judgment, problems with movement and coordination, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, muscle spasms and confusion.

Which legislation covers ecstasy (MDMA) use?

MDMA and its related compounds were added to the Misuse of Drugs Act as Schedule 1 controlled substances in 1987.

This means that the import, export, production, possession, sale, or supply of ecstasy (MDMA) is illegal in Ireland.

Anyone who commits one of these offences could be liable for a fine, prison sentence, or both. However, several factors will be considered for sentencing including the type, quantity, and total value of the drugs found.

Can ecstasy be used in medicine?

Ecstasy (MDMA) is not used in Irish medicine and cannot be prescribed by doctors.

However, other countries including the United States have trialled the application of MDMA in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

How long does it take for ecstasy to show up in a drug test?

Even after the ‘high’ has worn off, and long after the drug was first consumed, ecstasy (MDMA) use can be detected by a drug test, depending on the type of test you take.

The drug testing detection windows for ecstasy are as follows:

  • Oral fluid (saliva) – up to 48 hours
  • Urine – up to 4 days
  • Hair – up to 12 months (depending on the length of hair available)
  • Nails – up to 12 months (up to 6 months for fingernails and up to 12 months for toenails)

Oral fluid and urine drug testing are known as ‘narrow-window’ forms of testing and can be used to detect drug use from 30 minutes after consumption, up to a few days.

This can vary depending on the type of substance and how much was used.

The rate at which hair and nails grow means that both hair drug testing and nail drug testing can provide a ‘wide-window’ of detection for drugs and their metabolites (up to 12 months).

Where can I buy a drug test?

Our Home Drug Testing Kit has been designed to give you peace of mind or enable you to seek support for a friend or loved one who is struggling with substance misuse.

This easy-to-use, self-contained screening kit can detect drugs and their metabolites in a urine sample, with built-in test strips that allow you to read the results in just 5 minutes

Please be aware that our home drug test kits are for peace of mind only, and the results cannot be used in court. If you require a drug test for official matters, you will need a legally-instructed drug test.

For confidential advice about which test might best suit your needs, you can also call our Customer Services team on 01 402 9466 or email

Home Drug Testing Kit

Order your home drug testing kit online now for just €20.

Marie Law AlphaBiolabs

Marie Law

Head of Toxicology at AlphaBiolabs

A highly-skilled and respected scientist with over 13 years’ experience in the field of forensics, Marie joined AlphaBiolabs in 2022 and oversees the company’s growing toxicology team.

As Head of Toxicology, Marie’s day-to-day responsibilities include maintaining the highest quality testing standards for toxicology and further enhancing AlphaBiolabs’ drug and alcohol testing services for members of the public, the legal sector, and the workplace sector.

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