Ecstasy is the drug that made the biggest impact of all illicit drugs in South Africa since the early 1990's. It is a drug that is synonymous with the rave scene, and is currently being abused by a large number of teenagers in South Africa. It is a tablet that is highly underrated for its serious and dangerous side-effects, because the public at large is uninformed.

"XTC is like LSD without the hallucinations" Time Vol 141 no 6 1993

Superintendent Andr Koch from the SAPS 's Forensic Science Laboratory states :
"Although there are many potential risks and side-effects when using these amphetamine-type of stimulants, I would like to stress a particular risk. It lies in the fact that the consumer does not know in advance exactly what substance he or she is taking. While cases of acute poisoning as a result of MDMA overdose are rare, they can arise more frequently with MDA, DOB and other potent derivatives. In addition to the possibility of consuming one of the more potent derivatives, there is also the danger of taking in poisonous substances."


Ecstasy is an amphetamine derivative. Amphetamine is a fully synthetic artificially manufactured narcotic. There are various structures diverging form the basic chemical composition of the amphetamine molecule, and those are referred to as derivatives of amphetamine. The most important derivative at present is MDMA (Ecstasy). It is possible to obtain large numbers of varied amphetamine chemical structures by alteration. This is why these drugs are known as designer drugs.

It is important to remember that these drugs are manufactured in clandestine (backyard) laboratories, and has never been tested or approved by any council for human consumption. The user therefore never knows what he or she is consuming!

The more well known variations of the amphetamine molecules are as follows :

STP DOM 2,5dimethoxy-4methylamphetamine
Love Drug, Mellow drug of America MDA 3,4 methylenedioxyamphetamine
Ecstasy, XTC, Adam MDMA 3.4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine
Eve MDE N-ethyl 3,4 methylenedioxyamphetamine


As can be seen there is a legion of acronyms that describe these compounds, i.e. MDA, MDMA, STP, DOM, MDE, XTC, etc. Some of these acronyms are applied to more than one compound, or one compound can be known on the street by several acronyms, which leads to confusion. It is therefore difficult to describe a specific type of XTC to an individual.

Ecstasy is usually sold in the form of a tablet, but can also be obtain in a liquid form. There are literally hundreds of different types of tablets currently circulating in the South African market.

For more pictures go to the Photo Libruary

The easiest way to identify these tablets is to look for a logo that does not belong on a tablet that is obtained at a pharmacy. The manufacturers usually opt for a well known brand name as a logo on the tablet, and trademarks such as Mercedes Benz, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen, Rolls Royce, Kelvin Klein, etc. are common (this also further the pseudonym of "Designer drug").

Tablets with doves, stars and the Russian hammer and sickle have also been found. These are obviously tablets that will not be produced by recognized drug companies, and are therefore dead give-aways.


The average dose of Ecstasy tablets are between 80 to 150mg. It all depends on the size, weight and composition of the tablet. They differ from one another in their speed of onset, duration of action, potency and their capacity to either produce effects, alter moods or do both.

These drugs are usually taken orally, anally (charging) or more rarely by nasal ingestion (snorting). As a rule the effects are felt after about a half an hour and will wear off again or have a duration of six (6) to eight (8) hours. It is well known that because the drug takes a while to kick-in, that novices and first time users will take another dose in order to hasten the process. This can however be lethal.

A current XTC on the market, Mitsubishi, is up to 30% stronger that the normal tablet, and has caused numerous deaths in Europe and the U.S., exactly because of this form of overdose.

The drug produces clear symptomatic effects such as :

  • increased heart rate
  • increased blood pressure
  • increased pupil dilation

Additional physical effects include :

  • muscle tension
  • jaw clenching
  • dry mouth
  • appetite suppression
  • hyper activity
  • increased sensory perception

Higher doses produce severe unpleasant side effects such as:

  • overheating of the body
  • anxiety
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • confusion
  • difficulty to concentrate
  • reason and speech

A lethal dose can cause heart attacks, strokes, coma and therefore death Time Bomb

Some of the more dangerous side effects of Ecstasy are the so-called "heat stroke" and "water logging" syndromes, which can be caused by the intake of the drug. Heat stroke is usually caused in a Rave or Night Club situation, where the user does not take in enough fluids in order to stop severe dehydration, while being above normal active. This is also caused by the neurons in the brain not functioning properly, and therefore the inability of the user receiving a timeous conscious message of imminent danger.

On the flip side of this "water logging" or "water poisoning". This effect or syndrome can be found where a person consumes too much fluid that the body cannot successfully process. These fluids can turn poisonous and inevitably end up in the blood stream or can cause kidney failure.

The long-term abuse of XTC leads to severe psychiatric problems, and persons that are addicted to amphetamines have a tendency to severe aggressive outbursts. It has been found on numerous occasions that teenagers assault their parents in order to obtain funds to finance their addiction. The abuse of XTC inevitably leads to the abuse of Cocaine, because tolerance levels are reached quickly and the need for a better rush is high.


  • hyper-active
  • dilated pupils
  • unnatural perspiration
  • eating disorders appetite suppression
  • rapid weight loss
  • mood swings
  • insomnia or alternatively sleeping long hours after XTC parties (caused by so-called Crash)
  • aggressiveness
  • dry mouth
  • disappearing for long periods especially weekends

It should be noted however that it is very difficult to spot the symptoms of XTC abuse in a person. After the effects have worn off , the user regularly returns to a normal life style and the symptoms cannot be detected. One should however be diligent in looking for more than basic symptoms if suspicion is aroused surrounding possible XTC abuse.


The following physical signs are an indication of XTC abuse :

  • small pieces of foil or foil-like substances found in cigarette packets used for wrapping tablets
  • plastic bank bags
  • empty energy drink or mineral water containers
  • clothes with hidden pockets
  • abnormal interest in Rave music and Rave culture and using Rave slang
  • Rave Scene / Party flyers and advertisements

Source: American Academy Of Neurology

ST. PAUL, MN - Use of the recreational drug Ecstasy causes a severe reduction in the amount of serotonin in the brain, according to a study in the July 25 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study examined the brain of a 26-year-old man who had died of a drug overdose.

"The levels of serotonin and another chemical associated with serotonin were 50 to 80 percent lower in the brain of the Ecstasy user," said study author Stephen Kish, PhD, of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Canada. "This is the first study to show that this drug can deplete the level of serotonin in humans."

The man started using Ecstasy once a month at age 17. His usage increased, and in the last three years of his life he used it four to five nights a week at "rave" clubs, usually including a three-day weekend binge during which he took six to eight tablets. On the day after these binges, his friends said he appeared depressed and had slow speech, movement and reaction time.


In order to fully understand the inherent danger of XTC a person should also be aware of the dangers in the so-called "Rave Clubs" and modern day nightclubs.

It is a well known fact that the abuse of stimulants, especially XTC, LSD and Cocaine, are synonymous with each other. It is also true that these drugs are also sold in other "normal" night clubs, but none is comparable with hard core Rave Clubs.

A Rave Club is a disco where the music plays the most important role. For that reason the DJ is the most important person in the club and has experience shown that Ravers will frequent clubs with the best DJ's.

These clubs usually start operating at 22:00 on Friday nights and can go non-stop for up to 48 hours. The music with a very distinct beat, is played at very high volumes by powerful sound systems. It is this beat that works hand-in-hand with the effects of XTC and LSD, and it stimulates amongst other the heartbeat and it has been found to increase the effect of a trip.

The users therefore describe the effects of XTC as "a separation of mind and body", or a so-called outer body experience in the club. This can happen where the body is pushed to limits of endurance, while there is complete mental harmony.

To rave effectively one must realize that this is a very active type of dance and therefore saps the body of energy. It is for this reason that ravers will frequently abuse stimulants in order to keep energy levels up.

Although a rave party may seem innocent because of the raver's so-called relaxed behaviour, it must be stressed that it is because most people are tripping or are high on some drug or stimulant. It is known that drug deals occur in the unisex toilets and chillout rooms.

It is also true that not all people attending rave parties are XTC users, but the exposure of drugs is so significant that one might and will probably be influenced in time to experiment with drugs. Experience with undercover police officers has also shown that they suffer to operate at optimum levels after being in such a club for more than one hour. They complain of becoming disorientated, suffer headaches and temporary hear loss in these circumstances, all because they are sober.

The question has been asked at numerous occasions why these type of premises are not closed down or liquor licences forfeited. The fact is however that XTC, which is an upper and alcohol (a downer), that is consumed together, will partly cancel the effect of XTC, but with severe effects. That is why energy drinks, such as Energade, Powerade and Red Bull and mineral water, is sold more than liquor. Interviews with Rave Club owners have shown that their turnover in energy drinks and mineral water is usually higher than on liquor.

XTC will also be found being used with LSD and Speed on the Rave Scene a bigger time bomb than XTC alone.

In short Rave = XTC = Death


"There was no other people with me, it was just me and I think being wired on Coke and looking at all the people and realising that they all looked that way because of you and I looked down and I saw a young girl, very pretty young girl, very model looking face, very beautiful girl and she couldn't have been more than 13 years old and I just saw her from up there taking a pill and I thought to myself - You know if that was my child I think I would die inside - and I think for a moment in time I actually realized the proper meaning and the true picture of drugs and I saw the true meaning of dealing with drugs and then I think that is really scary."(Video confession available)


The drug was developed in the early 20th century and given to soldiers in the world war as an eating depressant and also for more energy. It is illegal in South Africa in terms of Sect 4(b) and 5(b) of the Drug Act Act 40 / 1992.

MDA surfaced on the streets in the USA in the late 1960's. It was referred to as "the Mellow drug of America", because it was less intense and with less after-effects than LSD.

Rave users also referred to it as the "Love drug", reporting positive feelings towards others and great empathy as part of the experience.

The use of MDA declined along with LSD in the 1970's, while MDMA began to increase in popularity, peaking in the mid 1980's.

In 1976 it was estimated that 10 000 doses of MDMA were consumed on the streets of the USA during that year. In 1985 the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) estimated 30 000 doses were distributed per month in one Texas City alone.

It picked up the nickname "ecstasy" due to the so-called "therapeutic benefits" that made it popular and attractive to consumers.

Dealers also preferred the low risks associated with the designer drug "Ecstasy".

Due to the explosive rise in MDMA use, coupled with animal research, implicating the drug with brain damage, it was declared as illegal. As Ecstasy came to be associated with the "Rave" scene in more recent years it continued to rise in popularity. Reports of toxicity have made it one of the more controversial drugs of the 1990's.

The first seizure of an amphetamine type of stimulant in South Africa was made in 1993.

The drug was first developed in the USA and it is very popular and manufactured in clandestine laboratories in the USA, Holland, Germany and Great Britain.

Clandestine laboratories have already been discovered in South Africa by the SAPS.

Read more about the following drugs...
Dagga | Mandrax | LSD | XTC | Cocaine | Heroin | Rohypnol | Welcanol | Pethadine

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