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Mind & Brain

Why ecstasy in the U.S. is getting more dangerous by the day

New infographics present the latest data on ecstasy impurity in the United States. 
(Florida House Experience)

A lot of people consider ecstasy to be one of the safe drugs, but that’s becoming less and less true. The MDMA it contains is becoming stronger on one hand, and on the other, tablets are often impure, with all sorts of nasty stuff thrown in. Research by Florida House Experience (FHE) looks at the state of the love drug in the U.S. in a series of new infographics.

About Pure MDMA

In theory, an ecstasy pill is 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or “MDMA” introduced as a help for “talk” psychotherapy in the 1970s. According to the NIH, MDMA boosts the levels of:

  • Dopamine—for feelings of euphoria and a burst of energy.
  • Serotonin—which makes one more trusting, empathetic, and is often sexually arousing.
  • Norepinephrine—that raises one’s blood pressure and heart rate, an issue for people with cardiac and circulatory issues.
  • Side effects can include:

    • nausea
    • muscle cramping
    • involuntary teeth clenching
    • blurred vision
    • chills
    • sweating 
    • The aftermath of ecstasy is sort of the opposite of the hug-drug experience. In the following week, it’s not uncommon to experience:

      • irritability
      • impulsiveness and aggression
      • depression
      • sleep problems
      • anxiety
      • memory and attention problems
      • decreased appetite
      • decreased interest in and pleasure from sex
      • FHE reports that today’s MDMA is about five times stronger than it was as recently as 2009, to potentially lethal levels. And as MDMA’s strength continues to increase, its downside becomes more a factor, the norepinephrine boost is more dangerous, and taking E more often leads to further usage a way to avoid the after-effects. (As to whether MDMA is physiologically addictive, the jury is still out, according to the NIH.) Having said all that, we leave you to decide if the fact that ecstasy in the U.S. is becoming more pure is good news or bad.

        Florida House Experience

        Is This E or Something Else?

        Of course, knowing what’s in any given pill is also very complicated, given the number of variants that exists, as well as regional differences. Pills are cut with all manner of nasty stuff, from amphetamines to piperazine, and more: The DEA has found some 200 other compounds in drugs marketed as ecstasy since 2009, with 80 just since 2012, according to FHE.

        Only 30.13% of pills sold in the U.S. as ecstasy are pure MDMA. In 26 states, they’re less pure than that.

        Florida House Experience

        Oh, and about Molly: Many assume that one of ecstasy’s variants, Molly, is the surest bet for getting pure MDMA, but, in fact, the opposite is true. reports that it’s the form of E that’s least likely to be pure.

        The Purity of E Colors

        Broken down by tablet color, here are the average purity levels associated with each tablet hue.

        Florida House Experience

        The Purity of the Car Brands of E

        Ecstasy bearing a car brand will generally have purity approximating the hotness of the associated car. At the top of the lot are Tesla and Lamborghini. Surprisingly, Rolls Royce doesn’t seem to be so well-regarded in the E community.

        Florida House Experience

        Evil Superhero E

        We know that Superman and Batman aren’t usually considered evil, but they can apparently pack a lethal punch in E world. FHE recounts the cases of three unlucky users who were found dead on New Years Day 2013, their Superman tablets having contained high amounts of PMA (para-Methoxyamphetamine), a substance 10 times more potent than MDMA.

        As was the case in the recent movie, Superman and Batman come out about even in the data. Oddly, the generic Warner Brothers pills are purer than either of them, with no sign of the MCU in E world.

        Florida House Experience

        No Longer Such a Safe Experience

        What all of this suggests is that using ecstasy these days in certainly no longer the safe recreational experience people could once assume it was. Ingesting E is a three-way roll of the dice: Will a tablet contain too strong a dose of MDMA, could it contain some other secret chemical horror, or will it be alright? The data suggests taking E now is less of a ride to love and trust and more and more a frightening ride to worry and doubt.


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