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Ecstasy (MDMA)

MDMA or "Ecstasy" is a phenethylamine, entactogen, and empathogen with qualities of both a hallucinogen and a stimulant. While it has, in the past, enjoyed a reputation among youth culture as a harmless and beneficial substance, or "good drug," it also has a very real potential to be dangerous.

Forms

names include: e, x, rolls, beans, skates, adam

MDMA is usually sold in small, pressed pills, but it is occasionally available as pure powder (called "molly").
ecstasy

Effects

positive

negative

  • euphoria
  • increased empathy
  • heightened sensory perceptions
  • mild hallucinations
  • increased energy
  • loss of appetite
  • insomnia
  • jaw clenching / teeth grinding
  • overheating
  • dehydration
  • muscle spasms
  • increased heart rate (tachycardia)
  • increased blood pressure
  • post-use depression
  • neurotoxicity

Addiction potential

Ecstasy is not physically addictive, but it is definitely psychologically addictive, and certain individuals (especially those who have depressive or anxious tendencies) fall into the habit of using it compuslively. This is problematic, because the very people who are attracted to Ecstasy are those whose serotonin balance is most fragile.

Dangers

Ecstasy tablets, being illegal and thus unregulated, do not always contain MDMA. This obviously results in the potential for problems, including overdose and adverse interactions. The most common adulterants are DXM and Methamphetamine. Tablets containing the drug PMA are perhaps the most dangerous.

Mixing MDMA with other substances that control serotonin (such as hallucinogens or DXM) can lead to Serotonin Syndrome, which results in chronically low serotonin levels and thus chronic depression.

Serotonin Syndrome and other types of brain damage can result from heavy, chronic use.

Mixing MDMA with amphetamines increases the risk of cardiac arrest.

Mixing MDMA with alcohol increases the risk of nausea, vomiting, and dehydration.

Risk management (best advice to user)

Test your pills. Or at least talk to somebody who has used the pill in question. Even then, you can never be entirely sure what you are taking. Dancesafe.org has information on testing your pills.

Drink water (about 2-3 cups per hour). If you are dancing, remember to take occasional breaks. You might not realize you are tired.

Do not drink alcohol.

Do not use on a regular basis. This will in most cases lead to brain damage. There has been a lot of research on this, and while some studies claim there are ways to mitigate neurotoxic effects, others maintain that they are inevitable. This is still up for debate.

Last Updated: 1/21/09