What is MDMA?
MDMA (3-4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is a synthetic, psychoactive drug with a chemical structure similar to the stimulant methamphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline. MDMA is an illegal drug that acts as both a stimulant and psychedelic, producing an energizing effect, as well as distortions in time and perception and enhanced enjoyment from tactile experiences. It is known commonly as Ecstasy and Molly.
This illicit drug exerts its primary effects in the brain on neurons that use the chemicals serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine to communicate with other neurons. Serotonin is most likely responsible for the feelings of empathy, elevated mood, and emotional closeness experienced with this drug. Overall, these neurotransmitter systems play an important role in regulating:
- energy/activity and the reward system
- sexual activity
- sensitivity to pain
- heart rate, blood pressure.
MDMA was first synthesized by a German company in 1912, possibly to be used as an appetite suppressant. It has been available as a street drug since the 1980s, and use escalated in the 1990s among college students and young adults. Then, it was most often distributed at late-night parties called “raves”, nightclubs, and rock concerts. As the rave and club scene expanded to metropolitan and suburban areas across the country, MDMA use and distribution increased as well. MDMA is frequently used in combination with other drugs. Today, the drug is still used by a broader group of people who more commonly call it Ecstasy or Molly.
most often available in tablet or capsule form and is usually orally. Among the more popular logos are butterflies, lightning bolts, and four-leaf clovers. It is also available as a powder and is sometimes snorted, taken as a liquid, and it is occasionally smoked but rarely injected.
Effects of MDMA Use
MDMA stimulates the release of the neurotransmitters such as serotonin from brain neurons, producing a high that lasts from 3 to 6 hours, but it’s length can be variable baed on the user. The drug’s rewarding effects vary with the individual taking it, the dose, purity, and the environment.
MDMA can produce stimulant effects such as an enhanced sense of pleasure and self-confidence and also increased energy. Its psychedelic effects include feelings of peacefulness, acceptance, and empathy.
MDMA Health Hazards
Users may encounter problems similar to those experienced by amphetamine and cocaine users, including addiction. Damage to brain serotonin neurons can occur; serotonin is thought to play a role in regulating mood, memory, sleep, and appetite.
After use of the drug over one week, psychological and physical effects due to withdrawal may include:
- agression and impulsiveness
- muscle tension
- problems with sleep
- memory deficits
- loss of attention
- nausea and decreased appetite
- loss of interest in sex
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