The Dangers of Super Strength Ecstasy

In the UK, the number of people dying every year after using Ecstasy is increasing. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the numbers have risen from eight in 2010 to 43 in 2013. One of the reason for this large rise in fatalities has been attributed to the increasing purity of the drug, meaning that the chances of overdosing on it are much higher than ever before.

In 2009 it has been estimated that, on average, an ecstasy pill contained between 20 and 30mg of MDMA (the active ingredient in Ecstasy). Today that figure has shot up to 100mg. Drug expert, Fiona Measham, estimates that an “acceptable” dose of the drug at one time would only be 70-75mg.

Another recent formulation study, this time conducted by Drugscope, an independent centre of drug expertise, found that the levels of MDMA in a sample pill contained two and a half times the “standard” dose of MDMA.

Recent tests at the Warehouse Project (WHP), a club in Manchester reveal that purity levels are at their highest for the drug for over 10 years. The club recently sent a tweet warning of the problem of high purity ecstasy in circulation, telling clubbers to be careful.

The recent increase in Ecstasy-related deaths was at first attributed to a potentially lethal drug called PMA, which is often sold as MDMA. However recent inquests seem to suggest that PMA may not be to blame, instead it’s the increasing availability of super-strength Ecstasy. In one case, the drug was found to be 91% pure when a 0.5g tablet was analysed.

The dramatic increase in the purity of Ecstasy that is appearing in the UK has been attributed to changes in manufacturing processes adopted by the suppliers of these Class A drugs. Producers have found new ways of making the drug which mean that the product has been “improved” beyond all recognition.

A worry is that older, infrequent users of Ecstasy may be at risk from overdose as they could take too much of the drug, not realising that the drug is purer nowadays than many years ago.

Also, the existence of purer supplies of Ecstasy may see a renaissance in the popularity of the drug, attracting  users of MDMA who were previously put off by worries about what other substances the tablets they were taking may have been were cut with.

Photo Credit: Tanjila Ahmed on Flickr