What is Ecstasy
MDMA is better known by its street name Ecstasy, and is ranked at number 18 out of 20 of the most commonly used illicit drugs. Ecstasy is a stimulant drug but also has some psychedelic properties as well. Individuals will typically find the drug in pill or tablet form, but it can also be found as a powder but this is not as common. Ecstasy is a synthetic drug which means it is produced using a chemical process, unlike drugs which are naturally occurring or harvested such as marijuana. Millions of people around the world have taken Ecstasy, an estimated 25 million people in fact. As of 2009, over 14 million people in the U.S. alone had taken the drug at some point in their lifetime and over a quarter of a million people in the U.S. reported having used Ecstasy in the past 30 days when surveyed. The rate of Ecstasy use is not slowing either, with over one million Americans trying it for the first time in 2009.
Ecstasy has actually existed since the early 1900's, where it was used in clinical settings for a short amount of time. Recreational use first became popular in the 1980's, when raves became popular and adolescents and young adults used the drug to party for hours and days on end. The drug is still very popular today in the club and nightlife scene, and users still utilize ecstasy to get high and party all night. The drug is particularly popular in the gay community as well, where gay males use Ecstasy will typically combine the drug with other illicit or prescription drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, ketamine, Viagra, etc. These types of multi-drug experiences will typically include risky and copious sexual activity.
The price of an Ecstasy pill can vary, depending on its origin and the market it is being sold to. While some Ecstasy pills can be found for as little as $1, most European countries are reporting tablets being sold for anywhere from $6 to $15, and sometimes a little lower in the States but can run up to $30 per pill in some markets. If an individual buys more than one in the U.S., dealers will typically discount the buy and sell each Ecstasy tablet for anywhere from $4 to $6. So as one can see, Ecstasy is extremely easy to come by and also is also a very inexpensive high. This is appealing to young users and older users alike, and one of the reasons why rates of use of the drug have not slowed.
Individuals who want an even more intense psychedelic high will combine Ecstasy with other psychedelic drugs such as LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, or even marijuana. The practice of combing drugs with Ecstasy is so common, that there are actually nicknames for it such as "candy flipping" (combining Ecstasy with LSD), "hippy flipping" (combining Ecstasy with psilocybin mushrooms), or "kitty flipping" (combining Ecstasy with ketamine, an anesthetic used in veterinary medicine). The term "flipping" is used because individuals who combine these types of drugs with Ecstasy will usually "flip" between a psychedelic state and a more lucid state several times during the course of their high.
It is no wonder what keeps someone coming back to Ecstasy, as the high can be quite pleasant. This is because Ecstasy affects certain pleasure centers in the brain and central nervous system which are responsible for regulating mood, aggression, sexual activity, sleep, and sensitivity to pain. So when an individual takes Ecstasy, they will typically feel at peace with the world and everybody in it, have enhanced sensory perception (especially touch), and will have seemingly limitless amounts of energy which can be sustained during the entire time the high lasts. On the flip side, and with every other drug of abuse, the "come down" can be quite unpleasant and Ecstasy users will typically take more than one Ecstasy pill in any given period to avoid these not-so-good effects.
Most Ecstasy users are under the impression that Ecstasy is harmless and not addictive, like other drugs of abuse such as cocaine or heroin. This is unfortunately not true at all, and Ecstasy users who take more of the drug despite the known health and social consequences fit the criteria for dependence at the least, and some are in fact addicted to the drug. One survey of young adult and adolescent Ecstasy users found that 43% met the criteria for dependence. As discussed earlier, Ecstasy users will typically experience undesirable withdrawal symptoms as a result of the come down from Ecstasy. These symptoms can be quite severe including depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, etc. To avoid these symptoms, users will just take more of the drug. This too is a hallmark sign of dependence and addiction.
Ecstasy can also cause a rise in body temperature which could lead to a serious health condition known as hyperthermia. Hyperthermia can cause organ failure and can lead to death. Individuals sometimes dance for hours while high on Ecstasy and don't take this into consideration. So if they become overheated due to prolonged activity, along with the already present danger or overheating because of Ecstasy itself, users run the risk of suffering from many side effects and health complications which can be life threatening. Ecstasy also increases heart rate and blood pressure, and some individuals who are already predisposed to either circulatory or heart disease may be prone to have a heart attack or stroke while on Ecstasy. This has also lead to death in some cases, so there are always risks involved when abusing this drug. Another factor that users don't often consider is the fact that Ecstasy doesn't always break down or metabolize right away, and repeated doses of the drug can sometimes lead to potentially harmful levels of Ecstasy in the individual's system.
All in all, Ecstasy use is not safe as many assume. As with other drugs of abuse, drug purity is always in question. Most Ecstasy today is very little MDMA, and much more fillers, some of which are other more harmful and lethal drugs of abuse such as methamphetamine, amphetamine, etc. or even highly toxic substances. Don't run the risk, or let someone else run the risk, of becoming dependent or addicted to Ecstasy. If you or someone you know if addicted to Ecstasy, there are drug rehab programs available which can help resolve and overcome Ecstasy addiction for good.