Ecstasy (drug)

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Usually Ecstasy is sold as tablets

MDMA or 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, which is also known as Ecstasy, E, X, or XTC, is a psychoactive drug in the amphetamine class. MDMA can cause feelings of euphoria (extreme happiness). Bad side effects include insomnia. MDMA is thought to have a possible use in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and its use during therapy .[1] In most countries, MDMA is an illegal drug under a United Nations agreement.[2] Possessing, making or selling MDMA in these countries could result in criminal prosecution and a possible prison term.[3]

Effects[change | change source]

MDMA has many effects on the human body and brain. It makes the brain release the chemicals serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.[4] During MDMA use the body also makes more of the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin.[5]

All these effects together can make MDMA dangerous to use.[6] The change in body temperature and the tendency to dance for hours on end can make users dehydrate if not enough water is drunk during this time (an example of dehydration and hyperthermia). Lots of dancing can also put pressure on the heart. People with existing heart conditions are vulnerable to these negative side effects.

Around 1 person dies out of every million that use MDMA.[7] Mostly this is due to overheating and dehydration. However it is possible to drink too much water (called hyponatremia),[8] swelling the brain and causing death. Many people have died from this after taking MDMA. Another factor is the hormone vasopressin, which is released during MDMA use. Vasopressin restricts the body's urge to urinate, which helps to get rid of excess liquid in the body before it becomes a problem.[9]

No current legal use[change | change source]

Ecstasy is illegal in the United States and is a "Schedule I" drug. Schedule I drugs have no official medical use and are highly addictive. More recently, some scientists believe Ecstasy should have been moved to"Schedule III" (a drug with medical uses), because it may be useful in therapy. Ecstasy has been shown to reduce fear, and would therefore be useful in psychotherapy when remembering bad memories.[10][11][12] It may also have potential for dying patients to help come to terms with their death. It could also be used for other mental illnesses such as depression or drug addiction.

References[change | change source]