Commonly Abused Drug Ecstasy / MDMA

Scientific name: Methylenedioxymethylamphetamine (MDMA)

Classification: Synthetic empathogenic class of psychoactive stimulant.

Legal Status in US: Illegal to consume, possess, manufacture or sell. Very limited medical exceptions.

Origin: Synthesized from amphetamines. Often contains adulterant ingredients. Manufactured in illegal makeshift lab facilities.

Estimated use: More than 14 million Americans have used it. 7% of high school students have tried it.

Street names: Ecstasy, MDMA, E, XTC, Molly, Love Drug, Adam, Hug, CK, Lover’s Speed, Clarity, Euphoria, Scooby Snacks, Go Sweeties, Decadence, Wheels, and Disco Biscuits.

Appearance: Most commonly found in pill form and may vary in color.

Administering: Oral ingestion.

How Ecstasy is Used

This drug is most commonly used at parties and raves. However, statistics indicate it is being used more widely beyond just parties.

People are attracted to the warm and affectionate feelings created by the drug, along with the sustained energy boost that can last for several hours. It is popular with partygoers because it suppresses the desire to eat, sleep or consume liquid.

Poisoning: An Extreme Danger with MDMA

Other ingredients are commonly found in this drug. Because it is made in "back alley" facilities, users have no idea how pure it is or what may be in it. Other drugs like heroin or methamphetamine may have been added. Many people have been admitted into hospital care, or died, due to extreme reactions and also due to the inclusion of poisons like household cleansers.

Short-Term Effects of Ecstasy

While users may initially feel energized, euphoric, and sexually stimulated by touch, they also lose their sense of danger and may be emboldened to indulge in other drugs or to have indiscriminate and unprotected sex.

Users also commonly develop rapid heart rate, high temperature, muscle tension, jaw clenching, sweating, tremors, blurred vision, confusion and nausea. The most immediate danger to the body comes from extreme spikes in heart rate and temperature, along with dehydration.

In some cases, loss of consciousness, hallucinations or seizures can occur.

After the effects wear off, a user will be dehydrated, confused, possibly depressed, and may have difficulty sleeping. Craving more of the drug is usual, even after one dose.

Long-Term MDMA Use

Continued use of ecstasy places extreme stress on the body. Panic attacks and nightmares often result. A person can become moody and depression is very common. Repeated dehydration from the drug places huge stress on the kidneys, heart and brain cells. All areas may suffer serious and permanent damage. The risk of heart failure and stroke increases markedly.

Treatment of Ecstasy Dependency

There is no specific pharmacological treatment for dependency on MDMA. The most effective courses of action are intervention, participation in support groups, and being admitted to a rehabilitation center. It is vital to support and assist an addict in breaking the drug's hold on the brain.

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