MDMA is a powerful hallucinogen that is the active ingredient in the street drugs ecstasy and Molly. Users take these drugs in pursuit of feelings of wellbeing and happiness. But the consequences of MDMA abuse can lead to a vast array of very unhappy, even tragic, consequences.
The name MDMA is derived from the drug’s active ingredient 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine. It is a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act meaning it has a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use. MDMA is a powder made in illegal laboratories then sold as pills, tablets or capsules, or a liquid that can be injected or applied to blotter paper. It is often adulterated with any number of substances, some of which can be especially dangerous. Examples include methamphetamine, ketamine and cocaine. Molly is thought to be a more pure form of MDMA than ecstasy but it too is usually adulterated with various compounds.
Using MDMA boosts the production of dopamine and serotonin, chemicals in the brain that stimulate its reward centers. When this happens, users experience increased feelings of intimacy with others, along with feelings of euphoria and a boost in their energy levels. There is also an increased sensitivity to touch and heightened feelings of sensual and sexual arousal. MDMA is known as a “club drug” because of its popularity with those attending dance clubs, parties, and concerts.
MDMA also produces various negative effects including:
- Muscle cramping
- Involuntary teeth clenching
- Blurred vision
Of particular concern is MDMA’s effect on the body’s ability to regulate its temperature. According to Nora D. Volkow, M.D., Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse “MDMA can cause a dangerous increase in body temperature that can lead to kidney failure. MDMA can also increase heart rate, blood pressure, and heart wall stress. Once the body loses its ability to regulate its temperature the kidneys, liver, or heart may fail leading to death.”