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Title: What is the difference between Ecstasy and MDMA?
Author: Turner, Alexandra
ISNI:       0000 0004 5993 3534
Awarding Body: Anglia Ruskin University
Current Institution: Anglia Ruskin University
Date of Award: 2016
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In society there is a discrepancy that has developed in what the public understands about what Ecstasy is, in relation to the term ‘MDMA’. MDMA, the abbreviation for 3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, is the chemical constituent that has most commonly been associated with the street drug known as Ecstasy. Though the use of Ecstasy was reportedly on the decrease, a new product has emerged known as crystal or MDMA powder. This is alongside new competing compounds entering the market, most notably Mephedrone. The research examined explores the changing perception around what the terms Ecstasy and MDMA represent, comparing their popularity and prevalence with that of Mephedrone. This was investigated using an interdisciplinary approach, utilizing methods drawn from social sciences and analytical chemistry. Two online social research surveys were employed to establish what the public knew and understood about the terms, Ecstasy and MDMA and the drug Mephedrone. The surveys included both quantitative questions regarding specific drug knowledge and qualitative questions which asked participants about their reasons behind selecting to use a substance. The surveys provided a social context and highlighted specific perceptions that were held about these drugs. The results from the surveys were compared to seizure data collected from the Cambridgeshire Constabulary, which provided a timeline of the emergence and prevalence of the types of Ecstasy/MDMA and Mephedrone being seized. The perceptions were also compared to a qualitative chemical analysis of seized samples using Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS). In the findings from this research there is a definite gap between what the public know and perceive about the terms Ecstasy, MDMA and Mephedrone. A key finding from this research is what is reportedly known about Ecstasy has not translated into what is known about MDMA. There is an observed disassociation between these two terms. Mephedrone, on the other hand appears to have fallen into obscurity post its media high of 2010. The responses to the social surveys indicate a clear preference for MDMA over ‘Ecstasy’ or Mephedrone, as the former is seen as being of better ‘quality’. The user preference was supported by the findings from the seiuzers recorded in Cambridge, with the new crystal form being the most dominant type seized post 2012 and Mephedrone seizures declining after its control in 2010. In reporting the purity of street samples, the public perception was again supported as the crystal materials contained a higher percentage of the chemical MDMA. This is the first reported study of the relative purity of the alternate forms of MDMA.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available