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Substance Abuse - Ecstasy/MDMA

Commonly Known As: X, MDMA, XTC, E, M, adam, eve, bean, roll, love drug, love potion. The experience is often referred to as tripping, wigging, rolling, X-ing.

Access to Drug: Sold at parties, clubs, raves, and on the streets in pill form, capsules or powder. Ecstasy is illegal and and is often manufactured into pill form in illicit labs in the United States and Europe for distribution. Arrests can be made for possession, sales, manufacturing and transportation.

Scientific Name: 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, a synthesized compound that is an hallucinogenic stimulant.

Interesting Facts: The compound MDMA was first synthesized and patented in 1914 as an appetite suppressant. Use of MDMA and MDA picked up again in the 60’s because of the euphoric effects which is where the name “love drug” originated. In the 70’s and early part of the 1980’s some psychologists and psychiatrists would use MDMA on their patients to help people with psychological and emotional difficulties. Because of its growing widespread abuse, MDMA was banned in 1985 by the Federal Government and listed as  a Schedule 1 substance. It is the most widely abused club drug on the illegal market today. Unfortunately, because of its popularity, pills are often sold under the guise of being Ecstasy but actually are compounds containing ephedrine, amphetamine, caffeine, DXM or other life threatening combinations.

Methods of Use: Taken orally in pill or gel cap form. The pills often have “cutsey” designs that change constantly.

Common Effects When Intoxicated: Users experience euphoria, a sense of well-being, a decrease in inhibitions, and hyperactivity. It is known for use at raves and clubs because of the hyperactivity and the ability to dance for an extended period of time. Some users will experience anxiety and paranoia. Physical effects include clenching of the jaws, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, hypothermia and dehydration.

Duration of Intoxication: The full effects of MDMA can start 20 minutes to an hour after ingestion and last for about three to four hours during the peak experience. The whole experience can last 6 to 24 hours including the “crash” period when the euphoric feeling begins to wear off the and user notices a worsening of their mood, sadness, depression or paranoia.

Withdrawal: Many users will experience depression which can last anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks. There may also be on-going sweats/chills and insomnia as well as exhaustion from over-exertion. Ecstasy can be detected for up to 4 days in the urine but labs require specific tests to detect MDMA/Ecstasy.

Effects of Long Term Use: Long term use can cause long lasting depletion of the brain Serotonin levels affecting aggression, mood, sexual activity, sleep and sensitivitiy to pain. There are several studies showing a reduction in brain memory and increases in depression and anxiety.

Abuse, Dependence, and Addiction: Peer pressure and curiosity contribute to the abuse of Ecstasy. It is addicting for psychological reasons. Users tend to chase the feelings of euphoria created by Ecstasy/MDMA, however, tolerance does develop, creating the need for higher doses and stronger after-effects.

Associated Risks: Dehydration, exhaustion, blackouts and a few cases of death have been reported from the use of Ecstasy/MDMA. It has also been known to trigger mental illness as well as emotional crisis while under the influence. Because many of the pills on the street are often mixed with other compounds, anyone taking a pill called ecstasy could be taking something else and cause serious harm to themselves and others.