Psychoactive Drug: MDMA

Ecstasy usage on the rise in teenagers and young adults

What is MDMA?

MDMA, otherwise known as ecstasy, is a ‘psychedelic amphetamine’. It has grown dramatically in popularity due to the strong feelings it creates. Users may feel euphoric, comfort, empathy, and strong connections with others. MDMA is most commonly in a capsule or powder form. Ecstasy is usually taken orally and sometimes snorted. Dance party scenes are where the use of MDMA is primarily found. 3,4 methylenedioxy-N-methamphetamine is the chemical makeup of MDMA. It is a synthetic chemical from an essential oil in sassafras trees. The chemical C11H15NO2


What does MDMA classify as? What other names does it have?

Ecstasy is a synthetic stimulant and also a mild hallucinogen. MDMA speeds up neural activity and body functions. Being a mild hallucinogen means that MDMA is capable of distorting perceptions and evoking sensory image without real sensory input.


Slang terms for MDMA include Ecstasy, X, XTC, E, M, Adam, Eve, Thizz, Beans, Rolls, and Molly.

How is MDMA ingested? What are MDMA's medicinal uses?

MDMA can be ingested orally as either a capsule or a tablet. The tablets usually have images like smiley faces, peace signs, and other brands printed on the tablets. MDMA can also be in powder form and snorted through the nose. There have been occasional reports of smoking MDMA and very rare cases of injection.


Before MDMA was made illegal in the United States in 1985, therapists would provide ecstasy for patients. MDMA was used as an adjunct for psychotherapy. Between 1912 and 9185 patients who working through difficult interpersonal issues were prescribed MDMA.

How does MDMA alter consciousness? What myths are there about MDMA?

MDMA affects the levels of the brain’s neurotransmitter serotonin, which regulates heart rate, sleep, and mood. Serotonin floods the brain when MDMA is ingested, and the body has a heightened sensitivity and the individual to feel very emotional, empathetic, and euphoric. These feelings caused by the flood of serotonin alters consciousness and can cause mild hallucinations. When MDMA wears off, the brain is depleted of most of its serotonin supply.


An untrue myth about MDMA is that the appearance of the tablets determines its contents. This is false. Many variations of MDMA can look exactly the same with different ingredients, or look completely different but contain the exact some chemicals.

What are short-term and long-term effects of MDMA?

Short term psychological effects include: hallucinations, euphoria, empathy for others, and anxiety. Short term physiological effects include: nausea, chills/sweating, muscle tension, involuntary jaw or teeth clenching, heat exhaustion, severe dehydration, blurred vision, and increased blood pressure. These effects can last for 3-4 hours, the average duration of an MDMA ‘trip’. Long term psychological effects include: depression, severe anxiety, confusion, and paranoia. Long term physiological effects include: sleeping problems, drug craving, depletion of serotonin or memory, and death.


Can I become addicted to MDMA?

MDMA has the potential to be psychologically addicting. Users may have increased desire to continue taking MDMA after their first handful of experiences. Taking MDMA provides an escape for reality and negative emotions; therefore, people can become psychologically dependent on escaping from bad feelings. Users may become physically dependent because of the decreased mood they feel after peak effects wear off. Users may feel bad side effects like nausea and depression after euphoria has worn off. People may try to continually take MDMA to escape from the bad side effects of each crash when the drug wears off.