The Hidden Dangers of Ecstasy

ecstasy pill

It’s long been known that Ecstasy pills can contain just about anything. Methamphetamine, heroin, caffeine, inert fillers or it could actually contain methylenedioxymethamphetamine. Otherwise known as MDMA or Ecstasy.

Pills sold at music festivals, raves or nightclubs have completely unpredictable ingredients. So much so that organizations have sprung up just to test pills for partygoers and assure them that the pills were “pure.” Of course, that label overlooks the fact that some people die after consuming pure Ecstasy, so “purity” is no guarantee of safety.

That said, there is a recent trend toward the inclusion of a very dangerous drug in these pills. That drug is PMA – Para-Methoxyamphetamine. You can see that it is chemically somewhat similar to MDMA. But it is even more dangerous than MDMA.

Many stimulants and synthetic drugs become popular in Europe and the UK first and then make their way to the US. In the UK in 2010, there were NO deaths from PMA. But in 2011, there were 20.

PMA, MDMA, methamphetamine, and amphetamine are all stimulants, which instantly means they are hard on the heart and the vascular system. The heart rate goes up, the arteries constrict. The pressure on the heart, arteries, veins, and brain is tremendous. If there are any weaknesses in this system, it can suffer fatal damage. Overheating is another very real possibility. If a person’s internal cooling ability breaks down under the strain, it’s possible for the body to heat up to the point that the organs begin to melt. The next step is death.

One reason PMA is more dangerous is that it takes longer to take effect than MDMA. So if the person takes a pill and waits the expected amount of time and doesn’t get the expected effect, they will probably take another one, figuring that the dose is too weak. This can lead to them getting a powerful punch of the drug – one sufficient to kill them.

PMA is also more toxic than MDMA. At low doses, it will cause a similar effect to MDMA but unlike that drug, the margin of safety is very small. That means that the difference between a dose considered “desirable” and one that is fatal is tiny. So it is oh-so-easy to overdose.

If you have kids or friends of any age who like to go to music venues and dance clubs, you have your work cut out for you. In some of these environments, the use of drugs is pervasive. If you can’t convince your loved one to stay completely sober, which is the safest path for many reasons, please make sure they understand the danger that can lurk behind the cute colors and imprinted logos on these pills. For the manufacturer, it’s no big deal if the consumer dies. There are always other consumers to take their place.

Encourage them to party safely, party sober.


Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.