Ecstasy

Drug abuse and addiction / Category / Emile Du Toit / May 5th 2014

What is ecstasy or MDMA?

This is actually quite a complex question, largely because the terminology has shifted over time. They are ostensibly the same empathogenic drug 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine. As you can see from the name they are cousins to methamphetamines. You can also see where the chemical abbreviation MDMA comes from, and more importantly why it is used!

What is the difference between Ecstasy and MDMA?

MDMA, ‘Molly’ or ‘Mandy’ are generally used to refer to the powdered form of the drug, which is sometimes regarded as purer. However, MDMA often also contains adulterants, as it is in fact easier for dealers to add in substances like cocaine, methamphetamine and ketamine because it is in powder form. The idea though is that if you have a merchant that you can trust then they will not add adulterants.

The term Ecstasy is generally used to refer to pills, and some view this as a less ‘pure’ form. Actually many people think they are different drugs altogether! Anyhow, Ecstasy (or ‘E’) is harder for the merchant to add adulterants to, but this does not mean that the wholesaler did not add them when the powder was first made into pill form.

What are the effects of MDMA / Ecstasy?

Users of MDMA may encounter problems similar to those experienced by methamphetamine and cocaine users, including (obviously) addiction.

Ecstasy’s side effects can include the following:

  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • sleep problems
  • anxiety
  • paranoia during, and sometimes weeks after, taking the drug
  • muscle tension
  • involuntary teeth clenching
  • nausea
  • blurred vision
  • faintness
  • chills or sweating
  • increases in heart rate and blood pressure (a particular risk for people with circulatory or heart disease)

  • Potential damages from using MDMA

    Occasional MDMA-related fatalities at raves have been reported. The stimulant effects of ecstasy, which enable the user to dance for extended periods of time, combined with the hot, crowded conditions usually found at raves, can also lead to dehydration, hyperthermia, over-hydration and heart or kidney failure.

    MDMA damages brain serotonin neurons. Serotonin is thought to play a role in regulating mood, memory, sleep and appetite. Some MRI studies show that serotonin levels may not have normalized even many years after using MDMA. It is therefore not surprising that MDMA has been linked to depression. Recent research indicates heavy MDMA use causes persistent memory problems.

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