"Party Drugs"/MDMA/Ecstasy: Factsheet

  • MDMA capsules
  • Ecstasy - You never know what's in a pill
Year: Year 9–10, Year 11–12

What are “Party Drugs”/MDMA/Ecstasy?

In Australia, MDMA/Ecstasy are also known as E, pills, caps, pingers, M&M, doopa, love drug, disco biscuits, XTC, X and eccy.

"Party Drugs" is a term used to describe a range of illegal drugs sold as tablets (“pills”) or capsules (“caps”). Ecstasy is the common name for a drug called MDMA, which is usually sold as a pill or capsule, although it can also come in powder or crystal form. When sold as a pill, a logo is typically stamped on the tablet, but this is no guarantee of quality or purity. For example, two pills that look the same may have very different effects as they can have different ingredients.

Analysis of drugs sold as MDMA/ecstasy in Australia shows that these contain a wide range of substances, and some contain no MDMA at all. Some substances found in these drugs can be toxic, even at low doses and even pure MDMA can be dangerous.

How many young people have tried “Party Drugs”/MDMA/Ecstasy?

According to the 2017 Australian Secondary Schools' Survey, 1 in 50 students (2%) aged 12-17 used MDMA/ecstasy in the past month.

What are the effects of “Party Drugs”/MDMA/Ecstasy?

MDMA/Ecstasy causes the body's central nervous system to speed up. It can take effect within 60 minutes of initially taking it but this can vary. Sometimes people mistakenly think the first pill or cap they took isn’t working and take more — this can be very dangerous.

The effects of MDMA/ecstasy can be immediate or long-term, as listed in the table below.


  • Enlarged pupils
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Increased energy
  • Feeling of euphoria (a ‘high’)
  • Teeth grinding and jaw clenching
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Overheating and dehydration (when the body loses more water than it takes in)
  • A ‘comedown’ (see glossary)
  • Nausea, vomiting and dizziness
  • Visual distortions (things looking weird or different)
  • Paranoia (feeling extremely suspicious and frightened)
  • Psychosis (see glossary)
  • Serotonin syndrome (see glossary)
  • Stroke.


  • Dependence (addiction)
  • Long-term problems with depression
  • Impairments to memory and attention
  • Liver problems.

“Party Drugs”/MDMA/Ecstasy: Effects on the Body & Mind

Graphic showing effects on the body & mind

Evidence Base

This factsheet was developed following expert review by researchers at the Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use at the University of Sydney, the National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, and the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University.

Download attachment for more information and a list of sources.

  • Credit to 2and2 for You never know what's in a pill infographic.

Page last reviewed: 5 December 2019.