The most common street name for ecstasy is ecstasy. Chemically, it is known as 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA. The harmful drug is completely man made meaning that is was synthetically synthesized by chemists. The drug has psychoactive properties akin to certain kinds of pre-existing stimulants like methamphetamine and psychedelics drugs like mescaline. Another popular name for ecstasy among many is Adam, and although it is now an illegal drug, it started out its life in the lab of a major pharmaceutical company. Because of its stimulant and psychedelic properties, it produces an effect like an amphetamine.
Ecstasy affects the brain neurologically by chemically altering the neutrons responsible for serotonin. This means that the drug’s habitual users experience time and perception much more differently than sober people. Additionally, users of Ecstasy report more enjoyment lending to its preferred use as a party enhancing drug made famous by the rave craze. The body uses serotonin to regulate emotional aspects of people like mood, and sexual activity. Ecstasy has produced lethal results, and although it has had recent resurgence, the drug was invented by Merck, a leading drug making company in the early 1900s. In the early 1950s, medical professionals tested the drug, and later in the 1960s, it was used a common therapeutic medication, but it is in the 1970s that its stimulating effects started to be used primarily to enhance the party experience.
In the early 1980s, the weekend party use began to take hold much stronger in the younger culture while it was still legal at the time. The Ecstasy name became the ubiquitous name for the drug by the mid-eighties, but it is also became illegal around this time for safety reasons that were beginning to be associated with its use. By the late 1980s, Ecstasy had become so invasive in the counter culture that it is also at this time that it became impure as demand skyrocketed causing drugs to hit the market that contained little to no MDMA. Pure Ecstasy does cause harmful effects, but substitutes can contain a range of more dangerous drugs that range from LSD, heroin and cocaine to the addition of rat poison in some cases. It is available mostly as a pill, but users have crafted multiple ways to ingest the drug. In liquid form, it is a substance called GHB. GHB is a depressant that is also a component of products like drain cleaner and many other lethal solvents.
People report the effects of MDMA after approximately one hour after taking the drug. Effects range from an overall sense of well-being to enhanced sensory perception, but a common effect is the loss of inhibition and often sexually. This loss of inhibition is the property that has made it into a party drug because the removal of fear such as these makes the user feel more outgoing and extroverted. Death occurs when the drug extends physical activity and lethally increases body temperature and blood pressure. Overdoses cause brain swelling and reduces the heart’s ability to pump correctly. Physically, involuntary jaw clenching is an outward sign of extended Ecstasy usage and is a common cause of car accidents.
MDMA often causes repeat users to binge and after wards there may be periods in which the drug is not used, but this pattern still produces arrhythmia and heart damage. However, in the down periods, the crash is severe causing depression, aggression and irritability. This is punctuated by sleep disturbances, and loss of concentration, and extended use produces decreased cognitive function.
Ecstasy affects the brain by increasing serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels affecting mood, sleep, and other behaviors. The release of serotonin is credited with the most mood-elevating effects that users report. Positron emission tomography images show decreases in brain activity in regions involved in learning, emotion processing and cognitive processing although factors such as gender, dosage, and frequency of use affect reports.
Because the drug is used primarily by young adults of reproductive age and increases sexuality, the effects of Ecstasy on pregnancies are pertinent. Studies show may have adverse effects of ecstasy on fetuses, and is associated with impaired motor function that may not abate for up to two years after being born.