MDMA aka Ecstasy
Adam, Ecstasy, XTC, hug, beans, love drug, X and E are all street names for the drug that is known as MDMA in the medical and scientific world. MDMA is most commonly referred to as Ecstasy and is a "synthetic, psychoactive drug with both stimulant (amphetamine-like) and hallucinogenic (LSD-like) properties". MDMA is also a neurotoxin, which in high doses can raise body temperature and cause muscle and kidney breakdown that eventually leads to failure of the cardiovascular system. This said, the drug is still one of the most popular on the market, and demand is rising. (1)
MDMA is made up of a chemical structure consisting of 3,4
methylenedioxymethamphetamine. It depletes serotonin-producing neurons after prompting "nerve cells to release a flood of serotonin". MDA, a parent drug of MDMA, destroys neurons that contain the neurotransmitter dopamine whose destruction is an underlying cause in the lack of coordination, tremors, and paralysis that come with Parkinson's disease. (1) Dopamine is also thought to be a chemical messenger to learning. (10) The use of MDMA not only reduces the presence of these two very important neurotransmitters, but can have serious side effects as well. Psychological side effects consist of confusion, depression, sleep problems, drug craving, severe anxiety and paranoia. Physical effects and signs of Ecstasy users are muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, rapid eye movement, faintness, chills or sweating, as well as increased heart rate and blood pressure. Long-term use of this drug is evident by an acne-like rash that develops all over the body and can lead to liver damage. This gives the drug many risks similar to those of cocaine. (1)
The "high" that most Ecstasy-users get is due to the sudden and extreme release of serotonin. This neurotransmitter controls emotions and judgment and plays a direct role in the regulation of moods, aggression, sexual activity, sleep and pain sensitivity. Ecstasy users report increased awareness in feelings of intimacy, and self-confidence while on the drug, but also experience a state of depression while coming down due to the later low levels of serotonin. (6) As if the dangers of the drug itself aren't enough, an extreme depletion of serotonin in the brain can be fatal. Many antidepressants aim to raise levels of serotonin as a lack in this chemical tends to result in risk taking, impulsive behavior, and aggressive acts, as well as clinical depression, suicides, and attempted suicides. In case tests on the victims of serious suicide attempts or suicides, 95% of the patients' brains showed chemical abnormalities linked to a lack of serotonin. (7) Another test, which researched the levels of serotonin in the spinal fluid of murderers showed an abnormally low amount of this neurotransmitter. (8)
With this much at risk, why are so many young adults using this drug? The answer seems to be based solely around...