MDMA is an illegal psychoactive drug that is classified as a stimulant, but is also known to have some psychedelic properties as well. Its proper name is 3,4methylenedioxy methamphetamine, and the drug is typically consumed orally by means of a capsule or tablet. MDMA pills or tablets usually have some sort of logo imprinted on them and come in a variety of colors. Different commonly used street names for MDMA are X, E, XTC, Adam and Ecstasy. It is ranked as 18th out of the top 20 most used illicit drugs. Over 14 million people in the U.S. alone have used this drug at least once in their lives, and the drug continues to garner millions of new users each year.
Use of MDMA as a recreational drug began in the 1980's, when parties known as raves were popular and part-goers would take the drug to be able to party of days on end. It is still commonly used among part-goers and the nightclub scene. The typical prolife of the MDMA user today isn't confined to the same age or background as it was 20 years ago, and it is used by a much broader spectrum of recreational drug user today. Use of the drug has become particularly popular for example among gay males, who use the drug along with other drugs so achieve an even more intense high while engaging in risky sexual behavior.
An MDMA high is characterized by a sense of well-being, extreme euphoria, significantly enhanced sense of touch and other senses, and a boost in energy. The enhanced tactile experiences individuals experience while on the drug has earned it the nickname "the love drug". Individuals achieve these effects from MDMA because of the way the drug affects the levels of certain chemicals in the brain. One of those chemicals is known as serotonin. This chemical is an important chemical that signals reward in the human body. It is also responsible for regulating mood, aggression, sexual activity, sleep, and sensitivity to pain.
So when someone takes MDMA, it causes significantly elevated levels of this naturally occurring chemical and the user experiences the typical MDMA high. So the MDMA user is causing chemical changes in the brain, and surges of serotonin at levels that their body could not ever produce on its own. Unfortunately, once an individual who has used MDMA comes down off of the drug, their serotonin levels fall extremely low. So they go from being in a very desirable state, to an extremely low state and many MDMA user experience depression and anxiety during this time.
There is a common misconception that MDMA is not addictive, but extensive research has proven otherwise with one study reporting a 43% rate of dependence among young adult and adolescent users. Of those who used the drug met the criteria for dependence. Dependence is defined as continuing to use a drug or substance despite the known consequences, such as physical or psychological harm. And like all other drug of abuse, individuals who use MDMA will also typically experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop using the drug. This is indicative of some level of depend as well, and MDMA withdrawal symptoms can include fatigue, loss of appetite, depression, and trouble concentrating.
Because it is not typically as harmful as maybe heroin or cocaine, it doesn't mean that MDMA is harmless. MDMA users experience many unwanted physical and psychological side effects from use of the drug, including the aforementioned depression and anxiety as well as sleep disturbances and other acute side effects. Some side effects of the drug can affect individuals more long term. For example, MDMA users may experience depleted serotonin levels as a result of use of the drug for several years after only short term use. In studies of MDMAM users, long-term MDMA users typically perform more poorly than individuals who don't use the drug in activities which require cognitive function and memory.
Individuals who use MDMA will typically ignore important signals that their bodies are giving them, and will continue vigorous activity for extended periods of time even though their bodies are actually suffering from exhaustion. This is why severe dehydration is one of the many complications that MDMA users are at risk of. Knowing this, MDMA users will typically drink lots and lots of water to stay hydrated but will sometimes consume too much water which can lead to toxicity as well. MDMA increases heart rate and blood pressure as well, so individuals with circulatory problems or heart disease are at risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke when taking the drug. The drug can also cause a spike in body temperature known as hyperthermia, a condition which can damage the liver and kidneys and also cause cardiovascular system failure. Hyperthermia can cause death, and MDMA users are always at risk. On some instances, MDMA can even interfere with its own metabolism meaning that the user's body won't break the drug down quickly enough, so after repeated doses they can end up with potentially harmful levels of the drug in their system.
MDA and PMA are drugs that are similar to MDMA and have been responsible for fatalities in the United States and Australia. These highly toxic drugs are sometimes sold as MDMA and individuals may be at risk of consuming potentially fatal doses of these drugs. It is also possible to encounter MDMA tablets which contain other substances such as other illegal drugs or toxic substance. MDMA tablets are very commonly laced with substances such as ephedrine which is a stimulant, or dextromethorphan which is a cough suppressant or ketamine which is an anesthetic, or even caffeine, cocaine and methamphetamine. When an individual is knowingly taking something which they think is MDMA but is actually some other drug or substance, they can very easily take too high of a dose and risk serious health consequences or even death.
MDMA addiction is quite common, and it isn't safe or cool to use despite the current drug culture in society today. Individuals struggling with MDMA addiction can seek treatment at a drug rehab to resolve their dependence and addiction issued with the drug and be able to move forward in life without further use of it.