Ecstasy – A Central Nervous System (CNS) Stimulant, Hallucinogen
Ecstasy is a street drug that is only made in illegal labs. It is usually sold as a tablet, capsule, or powder. Ecstasy tablets vary in size, shape, color, “a logo” or an image imprinted in the tablets. Its chemical name is methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). The chemical structure is similar to that of amphetamine (a stimulant) and mescaline (a hallucinogen). Some tablets may not have any ecstasy in them at all. They may contain cornstarch, soaps and detergents, or contain other drugs, such as: ephedrine, methamphetamine, ketamine, caffeine, LSD, or PCP
Street Names for Ecstasy are : euphoria, hug drug, M, M&M, MDM, MDMA, rave, X, XTC, the love drug, the party pill, hug, beans, E, Adam, clarity, lover’s speed.
After taking ecstasy, the drug is absorbed into the bloodstream and travels to the brain where it causes the release of a neurotransmitter called serotonin as well as dopamine and norepinephrine (so called noradrenaline). Serotonin influences mood, sleep and appetite. The effects of a single dose may last for three or more hours, however they can be unpredictable, and different for everyone. Factors that influence Ecstasy effects include:
- person’s weight & age
- mood, expectations
- medical conditions
- psychiatric conditions
- the amount of taken (dose)
- how often and for how long ecstasy has been used
- use of other drugs, including prescription, non-prescription, and other street drugs
Short-Term Effects: The effects of ecstasy are unpredictable, but may produce pleasant feelings, a sense of well-being (euphoria), friendliness, empathy, and closeness to others. All amphetamines, including ecstasy, produce a sense of energy and confidence. In some situations users may experience panic attacks or anxiety. Other effects include:
- decreased appetite
- increased blood pressure and heart rate
- increase in body temperature
- teeth grinding and jaw pain
- nausea and vomiting
- Also a possibility of:
- distortion of perception
Ecstasy causes an increase in body temperature (hypothermia), which in combination with physical activity such as dancing and a warm environment, increase in blood pressure and heart rate can be dangerous and lead to kidney/heart failure, strokes and seizures. To avoid dehydration, some people drink too much water, which can result in dangerously low salt levels in the blood, and lead to confusion, convulsions and delirium. This state may progress quickly to coma and death from the swelling of the brain. When the effects of ecstasy have worn off, a user may feel unwell, fatigued and depressed.
Long-Term Effects: People who use ecstasy often may lose weight and develop problems sleeping, chronic exhaustion, fatigue, muscle aches, anxiety and depression. Some people may develop/experience flashbacks, delusions, hallucinations, and psychotic symptoms that last after the effects of ecstasy have worn off.
Is Ecstasy Addictive?
Ecstasy can be psychologically addictive, but physical dependence is rare. People can quickly develop tolerance to Ecstasy resulting in use of larger doses of the drug to reach the same effects. Others display behaviors consistent with those of addiction like seeking the drug, preoccupation and/or obsession with it; And, the drug use becomes an important part of a person’s life, possibly affecting other life areas in a negative way.