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How Drugs Work: Ecstasy (2016)

As part of the Dangerous Pleasures season, this three-part series looks at the biological process behind three of the most commonly used recreational drugs – cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy.

Using groundbreaking CGI this episode follows the effect of ecstasy on the human body. Over the past 30 years ecstasy has become one of the world’s most notorious drugs. No other illegal substance has had such an effect on fashion, music and how we party. This film follows two recreational ecstasy users over one night .Through graphic effects the viewer is taken on a journey deep inside the human body and the programme explains exactly how this powerful substance takes effect on the user’s vital organs. Through the tour of the human body, we learn about the fascinating and often surprising scientific reasons for how these drugs work and also the damage they can cause.

The programme features interviews with toxicologists, neuro-scientists and medical pharmacologists who explain what actually happens in your body when you indulge, exploding a few myths in the process.

With access to cutting edge research at the University of Chicago, we find out how ecstasy creates empathy in the user and how this could one day lead to the drug being used as a life-saving prescription medicine for use in therapy.

The series also follows young people who use drugs recreationally and interviews former users who tell their cautionary tales. Whilst ecstasy is an enjoyable high for some, there are those for whom ecstasy is agony and the film tells their story too – a young woman who had to have a liver transplant after using the drug and a father whose 18-year-old daughter died from drinking too much water after taking ecstasy.

Part of the Dangerous Pleasures season on BBC Three.