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The Results of the Global Drug Survey Show That When It Comes to MDMA Less Is More

With purity at an all time high, experts advise users to 'start with a half.'
Tanjila Ahmed

Despite what many wizened rave veterans would like you to believe, ecstasy is more popular in the UK now than it's ever been before. Not content with quantity, the quality is better than ever too, with purity levels on the rise. The thing about drugs, though, is that while we're pretty sure that everyone's taking them, short of turning up to a mate's flat on a Saturday night in a lab coat, armed with a pen and clipboard, recording the habits of drug users in the UK and further afield is a task beyond comprehension.


Luckily for us, we don't have to comprehend it for ourselves, because the Global Drug Survey (GDS) have gone and done it for us. Over the past couple of years the GDS have surveyed over 100,000 drug users, including 50,000 users of MDMA to get a snapshot of how the recreational landscape's looking. While the survey isn't necessarily representative of the global drug habits in a wider sense, it's a offers a broadly accurate look at who is taking MDMA, and how much they are using. The GDS sent THUMP it's finding with regards to MDMA use in the UK. This is what we learnt.

The attention-grabbing stuff—that news that the drug is of higher purity and better value for money than ever before—is interesting, but we're also intrigued in the demographic information offered up by the survey's results, with specific reference to UK users of MDMA. For example, 62% of users are male, and the average of user is 25.4 years old. There are also revelations about the number of pills people are consuming, which on average in the UK is 1.67 per session. The data gathered also indicates that most clubbers use MDMA less than ten times a year, while those who took it more than ten times were more likely to use it alongside alcohol, ketamine or cocaine.

The GDS suggests that MDMA users start with half a pill as a result of increased levels of purity (image via Global Drug Survey)

Sightly dishearteningly, however, the survey also indicates that in the UK an average of 1.2% of users sought emergency medical care after taking MDMA. In addition to this, it raises the fact that female users are generally two to three times more at risk based on the numbers admitted to hospitals—although the GDS were keen to add that this is not linked to either body weight or consumption rate. It's this point about emergency care that the GDS are most keen to press on, with pills containing more MDMA than ever before, in their words "taking too much has never been so easy."


That's why the GDS are launching a campaign encouraging people to take smaller doses of MDMA. It's sage advice. Just because pills are purer than ever before doesn't mean they are safer. As the GDS are keen to stress, if pills contain more MDMA then it's important to adjust the amount accordingly. The GDS have phrased this as "Don't be daft, just take half," which just about sums up the logic. Perversely, pills of a higher "quality" could end up being more dangerous, if consumed at the same rate as lower purity MDMA.

The GDS' Adam Winstock also mentions the advice of ex-government advisor Professor David Nutt in his report, who pointed out that for maximum enjoyment users were best off leaving a month between MDMA sessions in order to give their serotonin levels a chance to recover. The benefits of a "less is more" approach to chomping pills applies not only to safety but also to general well-being.

Just to really make the message loud and clear, the GDS even sent us five crystal clear reasons why less is better when it comes to MDMA.

1) More enjoyable experience.
2) Better value for money.
3) Less risk of unwanted effects.
4) Less severe comedown.
5) Less risk of seeking emergency medical treatment.

So, in short, pills definitely are better than ever, but if you're going to really enjoy them, you're better off with half.

You can find out more about the survey's findings here, and take part in the next survey, here—which only takes five minutes!