MDMA is a recreational drug known on the streets as ecstasy or molly. It makes users enter a euphoric and energetic state. It’s well-known for making electronic dance music sound particularly good. For this reason, ecstasy is extremely popular with ravers and clubbers.
Unfortunately, it’s a drug that can be extremely addictive. While MDMA may technically be safer than other drugs, such as methamphetamine, there are still a lot of risks involved with using it. In some cases, ecstasy use can get out of hand and you might need to go to an addiction treatment center.
If you have taken ecstasy, you should understand what exactly it is you’ve taken and what it does to your body. Take a look at this guide below to understand what this drug is and why it’s addictive.
What Is Ecstasy?
Find out the chemical composition of ecstasy, how it’s taken, and the typical crowd that indulges in this drug. We also give you a brief history of ecstasy.
Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA, is one of the most popular recreational drugs on the planet. In most countries, MDMA is an illegal drug.
Chemically, MDMA is quite similar to amphetamines. This means users can easily stay up all night under the influence of the drug.
How Is It Taken?
Generally, there are two main ways in which users take ecstasy. The drug may come in the form of a pill or in powder/crystal form.
When it’s presented in pill form, ecstasy often has amusing designs. For instance, you might find an ecstasy pill that depicts a cartoon character or a superhero. Dealers press their pills in this way to gives their drugs a sense of “brand.”
Generally, ecstasy is taken at clubs, concerts, and raves. A minority of users might use the drug to “chill,” but for most people, this is undesirable because of how “hyperactive” ecstasy makes you.
Who Takes It?
Ecstasy is popular with the younger crowd. It’s particularly popular on college campuses.
Ecstasy users often suffer a lengthy comedown that lasts for several days. For this reason, you don’t find as many older users.
Many would regard ecstasy to be a cornerstone of electronic dance music culture. If you attend a club playing styles of music such as a house, techno, or drum and bass, it’s likely that part of the crowd will be taking ecstasy.
It’s also a very popular drug at music festivals. Not only does ecstasy make music “sound better,” but it also gives dancers the energy to keep going well into the night.
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A Brief History of Ecstasy
The drug was first synthesized in 1912 by a German chemist who was trying to find something to stop abnormal bleeding. By the 1970s, there were reports that it was being used recreationally in Chicago.
In the latter half of the ’70s, MDMA became popular amongst psychotherapists. They found its disinhibiting effects were extremely useful in therapy sessions.
By the ’80s, MDMA started to spread around the US. MDMA was being used in nightclubs in places like New York and Boston.
In 1983, the drug started being produced in Texas. At this point, MDMA got the name “ecstasy” to make it more marketable. Ecstasy was soon made illegal.
The DEA classed the drug as a schedule I narcotic, meaning they believed MDMA had no medicinal value whatsoever. This was disputed by the psychotherapists who had used the drug to treat patients.
Consequences of Ecstasy Use
Curious about what ecstasy does to your mind and body? We explain why it’s enjoyable and what happens afterward your high.
Effects on the Mind
So how does ecstasy work? Basically, when you take the drug, your brain is flooded with serotonin and dopamine. This leads to significant changes in the electrical signals of your brain.
It’s important to note that ecstasy doesn’t actively create any more serotonin or dopamine. Rather, it floods your brain with the serotonin and dopamine you already have.
This leads to a period of “coming down” after ecstasy use. Because of a lack of these neurotransmitters, you might feel depressed and lethargic. These symptoms will subside as your brain restores serotonin and dopamine back to normal levels.
Effects on the Body
In its unadulterated form, MDMA is not a particularly dangerous drug. A scientific analysis conducted by Professor David Nutt concluded that MDMA was safer than other drugs such as alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis.
That said, you’re still taking a lot of risks if you choose to use ecstasy recreationally. When you buy this drug on the street, you might not actually be getting MDMA at all.
Many pills and powders are sold as “ecstasy.” However, they don’t contain any MDMA. Or sometimes, the MDMA may be adulterated with something else.
For example, you might buy some powder which is 90 percent amphetamines and 10 percent MDMA. This makes it difficult to say exactly what effect ecstasy will have on your mind and body, as you don’t fully know the chemical composition.
Fake ecstasy often contains chemicals such as piperazine or PMA. With many of these adulterants, the threshold for overdose is significantly lower than that of MDMA.
The substances themselves are also often more harmful. This means whenever you take ecstasy, you’re gambling with your health. There are cases every year of death from adulterated pills.
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Short-Term Health Effects
- Inability to regulate body temperature
- Appetite changes
- Twitching of the eyes
- Pupil dilation
- Blurred vision
- Depression in the days following use
Long-Term Health Effects
- Neurotoxicity in the brain
- Severe impairment of memory
- Dehydration leading to liver or kidney failure
- Heart complications for those with cardiovascular problems
- Long-term depression and anxiety
If you do get ecstasy containing only MDMA, you can still expect to experience some unpleasant side effects. For example, you’ll experience symptoms such as an uncontrollable clenching of the jaw (bruxism), an inability to urinate, and insomnia.
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Using Ecstasy With Other Drugs
Many users of ecstasy are polydrug users. Since ecstasy is frequently taken at clubs and festivals, many users may combine the drug with alcohol. This is dangerous, as it significantly increases the risk of dehydration and liver damage.
Ecstasy is often cut with other cheaper substances, so users may inadvertently take other drugs. For example, it’s frequently cut with amphetamines or methamphetamines.
Which Drugs Are Commonly Used With Ecstasy?
Since ecstasy tends to lower users’ inhibitions, they might be tempted to take drugs they would normally decline, such as cocaine. Many users will also resort to other drugs to help with the “come down” period.
Typically, users will smoke cannabis to help combat insomnia caused by ecstasy. Some may take more extreme measures and resort to opiates or benzodiazepines.
Not only do these drugs have serious potential for addiction, but they make it a lot easier to get trapped in a cycle of taking ecstasy.
Treating Ecstasy Addiction
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction to ecstasy, we’re here to help. Here at Addiction Treatment Services, we’ll work with your insurance to find appropriate treatment that’s covered under your plan. Visit our insurance information page to find out more about this process.
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