Ecstasy (MDMA: 3, 4methylenedioxmethamphetamine), also known as Molly or Mandy in the UK, is an illegal drug most commonly used during dance parties or raves. Ecstasy is normally sold as a pill taken orally or a powder that is snorted or swallowed. The drug is similar to both amphetamines and mescaline; it is a stimulant and hallucinogen respectively.  In pill form it is normally brightly colored and marked with a non-intimidating symbol (smiley face) in an attempt, in making the drug more users friendly. The name itself evokes happy, pleasant emotions, or pure ECSTACY. The more commonly known name, recent sensation, Molly is even more inviting. The purpose of this ‘advertising’ scheme is to entice new clients/users. This synthetic, on a typical dose of 100 to 125 mg, lasts roughly three to six hours. The effects ecstasy has on the brain and body creates feelings of euphoria, lack of inhibitions‘, and heightened sensations. This lasting effect increases an individuals need or desire to dance, talk, or seek physical contact. These sensations are what make ecstasy such a popular drug for dances or raves. Often, the drug is combined with other drugs such as cocaine, GHB, methamphetamine, ketamine, and erectile-dysfunction medication. Overdoses are rare, but not impossible. The dangers of MDMA are hyperthermia, elevated body temperature (due to the increased energy form the environment), and lack of hydration. Ecstasy is still an illegal substance, not controlled by the FDA; therefore it is not manufactured by professionals; as such it can be extremely dangerous. These pills cannot be trusted to contain the correct or more importantly ‘safe’ dose of the MDMA.

History

Ecstasy was developed by a German pharmaceutical company Merck, who filed for a patent in 1912. MDMA was not consumed by humans for another fifty years. During the 1970’s, MDMA was utilized by some psychiatrists work with their patients. The drug worked to the extent that some called it the ’penicillin of the soul’, because it allowed patients to express themselves more efficiently. These patients were documented as being able to see their problems more clearly. It is around this time, mid-1970’s, that the drug began being available on the street. Even during the drug’s use in the psychiatric profession the FDA had not approved or even conducted clinical trials, which had not been approved by the FDA until 2000. The tests will determine the value of MDMA in treating post-traumatic stress disorder. Several tests have been conducted in the meantime. A study taken in 2010 published results those PSTD patients had ‘overwhelming’ reductions in their symptoms.

United States and Ecstasy

Current studies and statistics show that there has been an increase in MDMA use in the country and that it is no longer only synonymous with party goers. There has also been a considerable rise in the negative effects the drug has on and individual. Ecstasy has enjoyed, for some time now, the image of being a benign drug, without consequences. In 2007, there were reported over 12 million Americans who had tried ecstasy at least once in their lifetime. In one year, during a 2009 study past month use of ecstasy had increased by 37%. Currently, in the US, there are 14 million lifetime MDMA users; these numbers show no sign of decline in the future.

Ecstasy and Youth

This increase in abuse includes the abuse by youth in the country as well. According to a 2007 study, 7% of high school seniors had tried the drug in the lifetime. There had been a significant increase in the numbers of high school students abusing MDMA between the years 2009 and 2010. This included a 3.7% to 4.7% increase in 10th grade usage. The increase in high school student’s abuse shows just how little the youth believes ecstasy to be. Which is alarming when considering that 92% of individuals who use ecstasy move on to use other illicit drugs? Peer pressure has been the cause of 55% of teen’s ecstasy abuse, when surveyed.

Ecstasy and Hospitalization

Ecstasy was the responsible for 10,220 emergency department visits in 2004, which increased to 17,865 in 2008. Within a span of four years, ecstasy had increased emergency room visits by over 7,000. Ecstasy has ranked as the 7th highest drug responsible for emergency room visits. Of which, 70% of those admitted were between the ages of 18 and 29. Nearly 80% of the emergency room visits in the US, in 2008, involved ecstasy in combination with other drugs. Marijuana, cocaine, and alcohol were the most common drugs to be combined with ecstasy. Poly-drug use in the United States is of increasing concern. General information about its use and consequences are paramount in reducing their use.

Ecstasy Coming to America

In the United States, the drug is often smuggled from Canada. The seizures of which have risen. In 2009, ecstasy seizures had increased by 594% from 2004. One of the most alarming facts about ecstasy from Canada is that is commonly mixed with methamphetamine or other dangerous substances in its production.

Dangers from Ecstasy

-Hyperthermia- the effect of MDMA on the thermostatic control of the nervous system in conjunction with energetic dancing in an overheated club.

-Dilutional hyponatraemia- ecstasy stimulating the production of ant diuretic hormone, which leads to fluid retention. Most commonly cause by the over consumption of water to counteract the effects of the drug

-Cardiac failure- a combination of factors goes into this mechanism like tachycardia, hypertension and fluid retention.
Ecstasy Addiction

Various studies have been performed to uncover if MDMA is addictive, but have had varied conclusions. There are some reports of users showing signs of dependence. These individuals continue to use the drug even though they understand the physical and psychological harm. Others have experienced withdrawal effects as well. The neurotransmitter systems in the brain that are targeted by MDMA are the same as other addictive drugs. In several tests, animals will self-administer MDMA, although the degree of which is less than other drugs. It is not completely known whether or not ecstasy is an addictive substance, but it shares qualities of addiction that should be monitored carefully. What individuals might be addicted to above all is the act of partying with an altered state of mind.  Anyone that cannot go out without the assistance of other substances could have a problem. If you or someone you know abuses MDMA, or other party drugs, in excess you should speak with a professional. Since the drug is not definitively addictive, addiction is more difficult to detect. The drug is still very dangerous and should not be used.