Ecstasy, also called MDMA (short for 3, 4-Methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine, its chemical name), is classified as a stimulant though it has both amphetamine-like and hallucinogenic properties. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) it produces feelings of general well-being as well as increased energy. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has classified it as a Schedule 1 Narcotic meaning that it has a high potential for abuse, it has no accepted medical use and has a lack of accepted safety standards for use.
Ecstasy comes in capsules but is most generally seen in tablet form. The tablets often have markings on them, such as an “E” which denotes its “brand.” It is taken orally and can last anywhere from 3-6 hours. It has been most popular with youth and is known for its use a dance clubs or parties called “Raves.” There a person can take one of these pills and dance in a state of general euphoria the night through. However as is the case with most other drugs of abuse it is often used with other forms of drugs and alcohol therefore putting a person at greater risk for accidents and other miss-haps, if not catastrophes.
Effects of Ecstasy
According to the NIDA, MDMA acts by increasing activity in three neurotransmitters. They are serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters are responsible for the release of hormones which create the euphoric feelings experienced by the user. The downside of this is that surge serotonin caused by Ecstasy also depletes the brain of this chemical producing feelings of anxiety, depression, confusion and causing sleep problems. They also note that long-lasting confusions or symptoms such as those listed have been found in long term users of the drug. It is this effect on the chemical serotonin that makes ecstasy an addictive drug, encouraging its users to take more as the effects wear off thus causing the depleted serotonin to surge again, replacing the negative feelings that ensued after initial euphoria wears off.
When a user initially takes ecstasy they feel a blast or euphoria that can last for several hours. Because of the intensity of this high, coming down from the drug is extreme. Users feel severely depressed, have aching headaches and may even have thoughts of suicide. It is important for everyone to understand the signs of symptoms of use of this drugs as well as the withdrawal effects of it.
Signs of Ecstasy Use:
- Dilated (enlarged pupils)
- Clammy skin
- Eyes rolling back in the head
- Nodding out (periods of sleep and wakefulness)
- Increase in energy
- Teeth clenching
- Feelings of love and affection
- Forgetfulness or confusion
- Blurred vision
Ecstasy goes by many different street names such as E, Bean, Disco, Biscuit, Love Drug, and MDMA to name a few. The drug is made in batches with each pill being a different color with a shape like a star or a heart on it. The chemicals put in each batch of ecstasy can vary widely. In fact, some batches contain pure MDMA while others may have traces of MDMA and also drugs like heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine. This is why some users will gain energy when using the drug and others may be more lethargic and sleepy.
As stated above the withdrawal effects of ecstasy can be very severe. They include:
- Muscle tension
- Cramps in the stomach
- Back pain
- Severe headaches
- Blurred vision
- Mood swings
- Suicidal thoughts
- Intense physical cravings
- Inability to feel pleasure.
The Ecstasy (MDMA) Debate
A quick Google search will turn up enough opposing views about this Ecstasy to confuse the most knowledgeable of us. It is up to us to consider the source of the articles. Most articles written by professionals in the medical and rehabilitation field speak of its dangers and long term damage, no doubt occasioned by the experience of their profession in dealing with those who have become addicted or suffered from negative health effects due to use. On the other hand those arguing do not appear to necessarily be credentialed in field, scientific or otherwise despite their claims and citations of studies.
And while it is true that studies are being conducted to test the safety of the drug, the findings of these and facts on current use indicate that Ecstasy is both dangerous and addictive and causes damage to the human brain that can be irreversible. Like other illegal drugs parents, community members and teens should be educated on the effects of this drug and avoid use at all costs. For more information or to help someone who is struggling with an Ecstasy addiction, contact us today.