Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)

Amphetamine Type Stimulant (ATS) Tablets

Other Names:
Ecstasy, E, XTC, Fing, Candy, Biscuit, Adam, Party Pill, Happy Pill, Love Drug or the name of the symbol on the pill e.g. Doves, Smurfs.

Common Chinese names: 搖頭丸 (Fing tau yuen), E-仔 (E-zai), 糖 (taung)

Type of Drug:
Stimulant with hallucinogenic properties

MDMA usually comes in a variety of coloured tablets with a symbol, cartoon, logo, or number imprinted on its surface. They can also come in colourful capsule forms

MDMA tablets and capsules are rarely made of pure MDMA and in certain cases do not even contain any MDMA in them at all. Tablets and capsules can commonly contain other substances (e.g. caffeine, aspirin), including other illegal drugs (e.g. amphetamine type stimulants: MDA, MDEA, MX) as this can be cheaper to produce. The tablet forms can also be mistaken for ketamine or methamphetamine which both have completely different side effects to MDMA.

How is it used:
Previously in other countries, not including Hong Kong, MDMA was used in psychiatry to treat patients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Tablets and capsules of MDMA are usually swallowed, and were often taken in night clubs and at rave parties.

Typical side effects:
- Relaxed upbeat mood state
- Feelings of euphoria
- Higher self-esteem and confidence
- Intensified senses of touch and taste
- Colours become more intensified
- Large doses and a bad trip can cause panic, depression, confusion, anxiety (psychotic states)
- Loss of appetite
- Increased heart rate
- Jaw tension, teeth grinding, dilated pupils, sweating
- MDMA effects the body's temperature control, can increase chances of overheating and dehydration and possible heat stroke which can be fatal.
- Insomnia
- Death from an overdose is always possible

Withdrawal symptoms:
MDMA produces a rapid tolerance so that repeated use within a short time leads to the loss of desired effects. When the drugs wear off feelings of euphoria are replace with depression/misery tired uncaring and even stress levels may increase.

Muscular aches, abdominal pain, chills, tremors, voracious hunger, anxiety, prolonged sleep, lack of energy, exhaustion, deep depression and suicidal feelings

The day after taking MDMA, users may feel run down and tired. Some people get a low that can last several days.

Long Term Effects:
Some long-term users report getting colds, flu and sore throats more often. This may be attributed to the drug causing insomnia, and as a result individuals end up staying awake for up to 24 hours, which can put more strain on the body's immune system.

Research on long-time users has also suggested it may cause brain damage and mental illness as well as liver and kidney problems in later life.

MDMA increases brain levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. MDMA causes the neurons to actively release these neurotransmitters into the synaptic cleft and block their re-uptake. With MDMA, the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin is much greater than the other two neurotransmitters, hence causing a greater effect on perception and mood rather than addiction (effect of dopamine) and less direct stimulation (effect of norepinephrine). Some medical research on animals suggests the possibility that MDMA can damage serotonin nerve terminals in the brain affecting the release of serotonin.
The altered levels of neurotransmitters in the brain can impaired brain activity and cause erratic mood swings and depression.

Long term use will also result in increased tolerance for positive effects and a worsening of negative side effects.