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MDMA or chemically known as methylenedioxymethamphetamine acts as both a stimulant and psychedelic. The drug becomes popular because of its known effects such as:
- energizing effect
- distortions in time
- alterations in perception
- escape from reality
Users take the drug orally in a tablet or capsule form. Each of the tablets contains about 60 to 120 milligrams of MDMA. Once taken, the effects usually last about 3 to 6 hours. Taking MDMA is a habit-forming activity; users typically take the second dose as soon as the first tablet began to fade.
Today, people commonly referred MDMA as ecstasy. However, research shows that ecstasy does not only contain MDMA but a number of drugs combined that might be harmful as well.
Adulterants found in MDMA tablets purchased on the street usually include:
- over-the-counter cough suppressant (dextromethorphan)
- diet drug ephedrine
Also, as with many other drugs of abuse, MDMA users rarely used the drug alone. It is not uncommon for users to mix MDMA with other substances like alcohol and marijuana. These substances not only intensify the effect, it can also produce more detrimental health hazards when combined.
History of the MDMA
MDMA first developed in Germany during the 1900s, and serve as a parent substance for other synthetic pharmaceutical drugs. Decades after it first discovered, psychiatrists began experimenting with MDMA as a medical treatment for psychotherapy. Even though the drug never got any scientific research, formal clinical trials or received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for human consumption.
Not until late 2000 that the drug received FDA approval for the first clinical trial. The research determined if the drug is safe to use with 2 on-going sessions of psychotherapy. But the administration of the drug needs careful monitoring in treating post-traumatic stress disorder.
Nevertheless, the drug gained a small following among psychiatrists in the late 1970s and early 1980s, with some even calling it “penicillin for the soul”. The effects of the drug make it easier for patients to communicate during therapy sessions. It also allowed users to think their problem in a different and more in-depth perspective. It was also during this time that MDMA first started becoming available on the street.
In 1985, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration banned the drug and classified it as a Schedule I drug, corresponding to those substances with no proven therapeutic value.
What makes It addictive?
MDMA affects many of the neurotransmitter systems in the brain that is targeted by other addictive drugs. Few studies have attempted to assess MDMA dependency among users in the general population, and those that have been conducted have shown widely varying results, likely because of the different population samples and different types of measures used.
We do know that some MDMA users report symptoms including:
- continued use despite its physical and psychological harmful effects
- tolerance or diminished response
- withdrawal effects such as:
- loss of appetite
- depressed feelings
- and trouble concentrating
MDMA mainly gained its popularity among adolescents and young adults in the nightclub scene or weekend-long dance parties known as raves. Over the years, MDMA user profile continually changes.
Reports also indicate that use is widely spreading beyond predominantly White youth to a broader range of ethnic groups. The drug continues as to be predominantly used by White youth, but there are increasing reports of its use by African-American adults in their twenties and thirties. In New Yorks, club drugs reported having increasing non-White communities of MDMA users and distributors.
Side Effects of the Drug
MDMA can merely affect our brain by altering the activity of chemical messengers, or neurotransmitters, which enable nerve cells in the brain to communicate with one another. They drug also raises the user’s body temperature. In rare occasions, MDMS can cause severe medical conditions leading to death.
Also, MDMA causes the release of another neurotransmitter, norepinephrine, which is likely cause of the increase in heart rate and blood pressure that often accompanies MDMA use.
It has become a popular drug, in part because of the positive effects that a person may experience within an hour or so after taking a single dose. Those effects include feelings of:
- mental stimulation
- emotional warmth
- empathy toward others
- a general sense of well-being
- and decreased anxiety
In addition, users report enhanced sensory perception as a hallmark of the MDMA experience.
- Sleep Disturbances
- Lack of appetite
- Reduced interest in and pleasure from sex
- Significant reductions in mental abilities
Potential Adverse Health Effects:
- Involuntary jaw clenching and teeth grinding
- Muscle cramping
- Blurred vision
- Marked rise in body temperature (hyperthermia)
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart failure
- Kidney failure
Symptoms of MDMA Overdose:
- High Blood Pressure
- Panic attacks
- Loss of consciousness
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