Why People Take Ecstasy and the Real Dangers

Ecstasy is a drug that brings euphoric feelings which last approximately 3-8 hours. A popular party drug, the brain and body feel the impact of its use which eventually results in a crash. Learn about the risks and dangers of using ecstasy.

What is MDMA?

MDMA is the nickname for a main ingredient found in ecstasy, 3.4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine. This illicit drug can act as a stimulant and psychedelic which energizes people but also distorts time and perception. The drug is known for its euphoric effects but it can keep people up for days at a time and make it difficult to sleep, eat, or function normally.

History of MDMA

The German pharmaceutical company Merck synthesized the drug in 1912 as an appetite suppressor. Although MDMA was synthesized at Merck, it was only an unimportant precursor in a new synthesis for haemostatic substances.’ The new pathway was patented to evade an existing patent by a competitor and eventually the drug gained popularity in the 1970s for psychotherapy. Psychiatrists felt MDMA enabled people to have more insight into their problems but later became banned. The drug found its way into the street market where it was mixed with other drugs.

Impact of MDMA

MDMA acts mainly upon the serotonin neurotransmitters in the brain. Serotonin controls:

  • Appetite
  • Memory
  • Learning
  • Mood
  • Sleep

MDMA releases large amounts of serotonin, causing feelings of happiness and empathy. Social engagement increases and feelings of mental stimulation build. Enhanced sensory perception is a hallmark of MDMA when high. MDMA causes a person’s body temperature to rise, increasing risk of dehydration. Some people drink too much water to hydrate which makes them sick. The body’s blood pressure may also rise along with heart rate. The influx in a production of dopamine can also be a problem for people who use the drug. When mixed with other substances, it is hard to know what a person is getting. Risk of heatstroke and dehydration is higher at festivals and places where it is popular to use with lots of people in small spaces. Long-term risks include depletion of the body’s resources from staying up for long periods of time, lack of sleep, and other physical and mental functions. The real danger comes when a person overdoses and risks death as a result of taking too much or taking MDMA mixed with other drugs or alcohol. The best way to avoid the risk is to not take MDMA.

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