What is the safest way to inject drugs

MDMA: MDMA really is that risky

This article is part of the Global Drug Survey series in the TIME ONLINE over Drugs reported in everyday life. We have just published the exclusive results of the world's largest drug survey of the same name.

Jennifer danced, drank alcohol, took two pills of ecstasy. Then she collapsed. Rescue workers took the 30-year-old to a hospital, where she died. The suspected cause of death: overdose. Ecstasy is one of the most frequently used illegal drugs in Germany. Through Jennifer's case, which the magazine was about The mirror reported in March that the very risky drug has recently come back into focus.

Ecstasy is MDMA in pill form. The amphetamines are supposed to ensure an artificially carefree evening, encourage you to dance wildly without getting tired. But those who get ecstasy and take it not only break the law, they also expose themselves to considerable health risks - both while intoxicated and in the long term. Because of the risks, the safest thing to do would be to keep your hands off it. However, decades of experience have shown that prohibitions and warnings do not prevent many young people from trying MDMA or taking it more often. If you do this without any prior knowledge, it becomes particularly dangerous. Leading scientists are therefore convinced that education about the use of illegal drugs is also important.

How can you identify bad material? What are the risks of the illegal drug? How can these be reduced? Many consumers don't know. This is also shown by the latest results of the world's largest drug survey, the Global Drug Survey 2018. Almost a third of the approximately 130,000 respondents said they knew little or nothing about the drug before their first use. And just under half took a whole pill straight away instead of fumbling around piece by piece.

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Knowing about the dangers of drugs will never stop anyone from using them. Those who take MDMA do it for the intoxication, not to think about possible harm. But if you really want to consume the illegal drug, you should do exactly this in advance. The researchers behind the Global Drug Survey are also convinced that the experiences of drug connoisseurs and users can help make consumption safer. They even suspect: Those who avoid risks have more fun when they are intoxicated. That is why the experts have compiled important information for MDMA users with the help of answers from the Global Drug Survey. This includes 14 tips for the safest possible consumption - you can find them at the top of the card history - and an assessment of what an ecstasy pill that is as risk-free as possible should look like.

Compared to other intoxicants, MDMA is considered safe. The BKA counted a total of 1,333 deaths from drugs in 2016 (Federal situation reports on drug crime: Federal Criminal Police Office). Two of the deaths could be traced back to amphetamine derivatives alone. 16 more on the consumption of MDMA and similar substances with other substances. For comparison: there were 277 cases of poisoning from opiates such as heroin or morphine. MDMA is also not as dangerous as cocaine or methamphetamine.

Nonetheless, MDMA has drastic negative effects. For example, nausea, restlessness, possibly anxiety, increased depression or circulatory collapse are not uncommon. The drug stimulates the nervous system to release more messenger substances - above all serotonin. In most cases this lifts the mood, but suppresses thirst, hunger or pain. The muscles can cramp, the heart rhythm and body temperature increase unintentionally.

What does a pill that is as risk-free as possible look like?

In the Global Drug Survey, the researchers asked whether MDMA experts could give tips on what the risk-free ecstasy pill could look like. The answers:

  • quantity: The pill should contain between 100 and 200 milligrams of MDMA. Regardless of how big it is. 88 percent of those questioned were in favor of an engraving from which the exact dose can be read.
  • shape: Pills should be big and easy to split. Just over half of those surveyed were in favor of tablets that can be cut in half. About 40 percent advocated markings to quarter pills.
  • Look: The most popular colors are purple, blue and red. However, 62.5 percent said that the appearance was not relevant.

The legal situation: Imprisonment even with possession

According to Section 29 of the Narcotics Act, the possession of ecstasy alone can end up with a prison sentence - anyone who trades with it or possesses significant quantities can be imprisoned for up to five years. Driving license revocation and heavy fines can also result if caught with MDMA. Anyone convicted of such an offense has an official criminal record, which also excludes access to certain professions (police training or law studies).

ZEIT ONLINE works together with the Global Drug Survey. All articles on drugs can be found in the dossier "How dangerous is intoxication?". Initial information on the most common illegal and legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco can be found here: