MDMA (C11H15NO2), (3, 4- methylenedioxy methamphetamine) or what later became known as Ecstasy was first synthesized in 1912 by Merck Pharmaceuticals for possible appetite suppression and weight loss treatments. The chemical went relatively untouched until 1953 when testing began on rats, monkeys, and dogs but was never marketed for consumers. Its chemical partner MDA was used in the 1960's through the 1970's, although having little popularity. It wasn't until the 1980's that Ecstasy (MDMA) became available as a street drug and it was not until 1984 that MDMA (Ecstasy) was classified as a Schedule 1 substance and as a result illegal to possess, distribute or consume. Prior to the 1984 decision some psychiatrists believed that Ecstasy had practical psychiatric applications and treated patients with the substance. But like LSD and its theoretical psychiatric applications, this idea was disregarded by the majority of the scientific community.
The 1990's brought an explosion of Ecstasy use. Ecstasy became a "club drug" favorite and began a new trend in drug use, the designer drug. Ecstasy and the use of Ecstasy began an underground club following, a subculture, seemingly inspiring new music genres, giant pants and the adult use of pacifiers. The street names include: X, XTC, Rolls, love drug, hug drug, club drugs, disco biscuits, white doves, New Yorkers, and lovers speed. There are a number of additional street names for ecstasy due to the fact that the pills are pressed with some sort of insignia or graphic imbedded. The more popular pills eventually had the drug named after them: Adam, Rolls (from Rolls Royce), E, etc.
In the year 2000 more than 6.4 million people age 12 or older reported they have used ecstasy at least once in their lives. Ecstasy tablets seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration increased from 13,342 in 1996 to 949,257 in 2000. It has been found that an estimated 1.5 percent of Americans have used ecstasy at least on time during their lifetime. The heaviest use was reported for those between 18 and 25 years of age.
Ecstasy is usually ingested orally in pill form. Although a white crystalline powder, its bitter taste and PH level make snorting the substance reportedly "painful." Some users inject the substance intravenously or use the pills as suppositories.
Ecstasy is a stimulant that combines methamphetamine properties with hallucinogenic properties. Ecstasy is a close relative to methamphetamine and is considered a hallucinogenic stimulant. As with many other club drugs, ecstasy pills are usually mixed with other drugs to enhance the experience but cost less to the distributor. Heroin, fentanyl , mescaline, ketamine, and a number of other drugs are mixed with the tablets.
Ecstasy stimulates the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Although somewhat debated, scientists have found that Ecstasy causes a massive release of serotonin in the brain bringing on a feelings of intense euphoria, peacefulness, empathy, sympathy, and acceptance. Serotonin helps regulate mood which guides diet, mental state, and physical well being.
Serotonin exists all throughout the body: a fact most scientists were unaware of until further research on serotonin receptors was implemented for the testing of anti-depressant medications such as Paxil and Prozac. The impact of toying with serotonin receptors and levels of serotonin is hotly debated. Regardless, each school of thought seems to reach the same consensus, playing with brain chemistry is extremely dangerous when dealing with street drugs.
A major concern is the production of the Ecstasy pills. Many Ecstasy labs are make-shift, many of the individuals mixing the chemicals obtain an " Ecstasy recipe" off the internet, and the environments are not controlled. There have been innumerable reports of "bad batches." The production of MDMA is not an easy task and many are unknowingly causing major damage to the individuals who consume irresponsibly produced Ecstasy tablets.
The dangers of ecstasy use may include: damaged serotonin neurons, liver damage, memory problems, paranoia, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances and weight loss. When under the influence of the drug, the stimulant effects, mixed with the hallucinogenic effects can leave the user unaware of dehydration which can lead to kidney failure, respiratory failure, seizures, or heart failure. The population as whole, even those who know little about ecstasy , has heard that it has brain damaging affects. Numerous brain scans reveal dark spots or what appear to be voids in certain areas of the brain. While in some cases ecstasy use has led to brain damage, brain scan imagery is misleading. Today's SSRI medications like Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, or any other Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors can and do cause the same brain scan results. Ecstasy use can be dangerous. The bottom line is that toying with brain chemistry can lead to negative effects on brain function and possibly death. Late night, make-shift lab pioneers are not doctors and are toying with people lives. Ecstasy has a complicated molecular structure and the perfect recreation of MDMA is not guaranteed by any stretch.
There is no reported detox necessary for ecstasy abusers.