What is it?
Ecstasy, or MDMA, is a 3-4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, which is
both a stimulant and a hallucinogenic or psychedelic drug. Ecstasy
is a notorious rave and club drug that produces an intense high,
unbounded energy, and usually, feelings of happiness. It also
increases sensory and sexual pleasure. MDMA is a white powder that
is pressed into pastel-colored pills with names like Playboy,
bunnies, Nike swoosh, and love, or stamped with smiley faces. MDMA
can be addictive and is physically, emotionally, and mentally
Disco biscuits, E, X, XTC, Adam, hug, beans, love drug,
How is it used?
MDMA can be taken in pill form or dissolved in liquid and
swallowed. It is often hidden in candy containers. It is sometimes
combined with other drugs, such as ephedrine or heroin. The pills
may also contain dangerous additive chemicals. Other drugs, such as
the MDMA parent drug MDA (methylenedioxyamphetamine) may actually
be sold as ecstasy and can be fatal. The experience of using is
called a roll or trip.
Signs of usage:
While on a roll or trip, the user is disassociated with reality,
including time and perception. After a trip, there may be severe
anxiety, depression, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, and lasting
Effects of usage:
Psychological effects include a feeling of intense pleasure in
tactile and sensory perceptions. Sexual pleasure is elevated. An
enhanced sense of self-confidence is usually accompanied by very
high energy. Users feel they can dance all night. MDMA affects the
brain chemical serotonin, which is a messenger to other neurons.
The serotonin system plays a vital role in the regulation of moods,
aggression, sexual activity, sleep, and pain. When the drug is
taken, serotonin is delivered in a huge, “wow” rush. Teeth
clenching and grinding as well as jaw tension is common. To prevent
this, users often use infant pacifiers. In higher doses, the drug
raises the body’s core temperature. At club parties there is often
a cooled “chill-out” room for this reason. Users often become
dehydrated. Increased heart rate and blood pressure also can result
How long do the effects last?
The effects of MDMA can last 4 to 6 hours, with a gradual
withdrawal of up to 5 hours.
Effects of withdrawal:
A disconnection with reality may last much longer than 4 to 6
hours. Because MDMA is a stimulant, withdrawal brings feelings of
anxiety, and can cause depression, trouble concentrating, nausea,
confusion, involuntary jaw clenching, and erratic sleep. At least
60 percent of users have been reported to experience withdrawal
symptoms such as these, and symptoms can last weeks.
Besides extreme levels of anxiety, fatigue, and depression, there
are dangerous physical risks associated with MDMA. Severe
dehydration can occur with extended physical activity while taking
MDMA, as well as hyperthermia, when the body temperature rises
dramatically. This can actually lead to heatstroke, kidney, liver
and cardiovascular failure, and death. Fatalities can also result
when taken with other drugs, including prescription
antidepressants. In the past few years, there have been cases of
users being unable to disengage from the psychotic state induced by
the drug. Users are also at high risk for sexual assault.
Effects of prolonged usage:
Memory and cognitive loss has been shown to result from prolonged
use. Health problems include liver and kidney damage. Long-term
users exhibit behavioral and emotional problems, and may lose
interest in everyday life and school.
Usage by youth:
MDMA is primarily used by young people in social settings, such as
underground rave, club, or dance parties. The use of hallucinogens
as a class is most prevalent among those aged 18 to 25 (1.8 percent
of the population). Four percent of eighth graders have used
hallucinogens; 7.8 percent of tenth graders and 1.8 percent of high
school seniors have tried them.
Unfortunately, many young people believe MDMA is a safe club drug.
The parties are broadly advertised and promotions even insinuate
that X or E will be available. In the last few years, the
distribution of the drug has moved into homes and other
communitywide settings, including large parties in private homes.
The Community Epidemiology Group reports increased usage among
African-American and Hispanic groups. So-called club drugs are also
available on the Internet, along with advice from drug dealers on
how to “safely” take the drugs.
*Information provided by Dr. Barbara
A. Krantz, Chief Medical Officer at the Hanley Center
First Check Diagnostics Corp. is offering these resources
for informational purposes only, and the Hanley Center is no way
affiliated with any of the entities that provide the