A stimulant and psychedelic, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is used by many teenagers and adolescents to enhance their state of mind, experience a sense of euphoria, lose inhibition and increase feelings of closeness and sensuality. It is a synthetic amphetamine made from MDP2P (3,4-methylenedioxyphenyl-2-propanone) as a precursor. MDP2P, in turn, is generally produced from piperonal, safrole or isosafrole.
A popular club drug, some other common names for MDMA include “ecstasy,” “XTC,” “Adam,” “E,” “X,” “Clarity,” “Stacy,” and “Molly.” Categorized as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the drug has become a popular rave drug among young people due to its ability to enhance empathy, sociability and produce feelings of euphoria.
MDMA abuse: health consequences
When taken for several days in a row or repeatedly over long periods, MDMA use can lead to physical and psychological problems. MDMA addiction affects individuals of all ages. In the days and weeks following its use, users often experience lasting changes in their mood and behavior, have memory problems and cognitive difficulties. A moderate use of the drug may cause its users to experience a range of emotions, including irritability, anxiety, restlessness and sadness.
In addition to psychological symptoms, users abusing the drug also experience a host of physical symptoms. MDMA abuse can affect body temperature, and its higher doses can lead to cardiovascular, kidney or liver damage and even failure. Other effects include myocardial infarctions, heat stroke and suffocation.
Hyperthermia, or excessive body temperature, is the most critical side effect of MDMA abuse. Hyperthermia leads to extremely high temperatures, resulting in organ failure and even death. Body temperatures rise slowly, which many users are not aware until it may be too late. However, as soon as they know, they hydrate excessively to prevent hyperthermia, but over-hydrating can lead to other negative effects. Over-hydration can lead to lower sodium levels in the body, resulting in cerebral edema, or brain swelling. Cerebral edema can result in coma, brain death and/or death.
Ecstasy or MDMA is most dangerous when combined with depressants, alcohol or benzodiazepines. The side effects of depressants are opposite to that of stimulants. Although the possibility of MDMA addiction is still under scrutiny because of unsurety of the addictive nature, the fact that MDMA use is dangerous is well known.