Ecstasy, Molly, and MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine) are name variations for a synthetic drug that has properties similar to both stimulant drugs and hallucinogenic drugs.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse describes it as a drug that has similarities to amphetamine and mescaline.
MDMA was originally used for treatment of various types of psychological disturbances and as an aid to therapy: however, it also became a popular drug of abuse due to the euphoria and strong social feelings the drug produces. At first, the drug was very popular drug in nightclubs and was used primarily by young Caucasians. The drug now is used by a more varied group of individuals, but still is most popular with younger individuals.
Facts about Ecstasy
MDMA is known by a variety of names, such as ecstasy, Molly, XTC, X, disco biscuits, happy pill, hug drug, and vitamin X.
It is classified by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule I drug, indicating that the drug has a high potential for addiction and is also potentially dangerous.
Molly is most often taken in powder form or as a capsule, whereas ecstasy is taken in a pill form that may contain other drugs, such as caffeine PCP, or amphetamines. However, ecstasy and Molly refer to the drug MDMA in some form or another.
Ecstasy use results in the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, leading to a rush of energy and also resulting in hallucinogenic effects.
The drug produces increased energy, feelings of empathy towards others, emotional warmth, and sensory distortions.
It is believed that the emotional and social feelings many users of ecstasy experience are caused by the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is also believed to play an important role in mood regulation.
Serotonin release in the brain also leads to the release of hormones, such as vasopressin and oxytocin, which have been linked feelings of love, trust in others, and sexual attraction and arousal. Thus, the hormones that are released as a result of using ecstasy may contribute to the feelings of emotional closeness to others that users experience when taking the drug.
After individuals use ecstasy, it is not uncommon for them to experience depression 1-2 days later as part of a “crash,” due to depletion of neurotransmitters in the brain.
A number of side effects have been reported following use of ecstasy. Because ecstasy has stimulant properties, and is often taken in crowded social settings such as dance clubs, a rare but potentially dangerous side effect that can potentially occur is hyperthermia, an increase in body temperature. This rapid increase in body temperature can lead to a number of potential health concerns, such as overheating or dehydration. If it occurs, it should be treated immediately.
Other immediate side effects of ecstasy use may include:
Clenching or grinding the teeth
Other unpleasant side effects occur following the use of ecstasy. These side effects can last relatively long after a person uses the drug, sometimes a week or even longer. They include:
Irritability, with or without restlessness
Loss of appetite
Anxiety and feelings of dread
A tendency to be impulsive or to act without thinking
Insomnia or other issues with sleep
Feeling extremely thirsty
Anhedonia, or being unable to experience enjoyment or pleasure in things that used to be enjoyed
Reduced interest in sexual activities
Cognitive decline, including issues with attention, memory, and abstract reasoning
Because the drug results in such a massive release of so many different neurotransmitters in the brain, there is a compensatory lack of available neurotransmitters after one uses the drug. This decrease in available neurotransmitters is believed to be responsible for many of the immediate side effects that occur following the use of ecstasy. The cognitive aftereffects of ecstasy use can lead to potentially harmful situations, such as a greater probability of having a car accident or some other mishap due to forgetfulness or problems with attention.
The cognitive effects of ecstasy can also continue if an individual uses the drug habitually. These long-term cognitive effects are also believed to be related to potential neurotransmitter depletion and damage to the neural circuitry in the brain. Other potential harmful long-term effects of ecstasy abuse include:
High blood pressure
Cardiovascular issues, such as arrhythmias or potential heart failure
Potential liver problems