Although the party drug ecstasy is often seen as a relatively low-risk form of drug, the addictive substance can be very dangerous for the user. Use can lead to irregular sleep patterns, decreased alertness, increased blood pressure and heart rate, and even paranoia and depression. In some cases, the use of ecstasy can even lead to death.
What is MDMA?
MDMA is often confused with ecstasy. The active ingredient in ecstasy is the chemical MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) which has many similarities to amphetamine (speed). This synthetic, psychoactive drug was initially used mainly by young adults in nightlife or at “rave” parties. Nowadays, types of drugs like this are used by a wider audience.
In an ecstasy pill, in addition to MDMA and binders, there are sometimes other substances such as mCPP and PMMA. MDMA is thus a pure form of ecstasy. Those pills often give the impression that they are manufactured in high-tech laboratories. Unfortunately they are simply manufactured in old sheds by drug dealers and not by trained chemists.
How does it work?
MDMA causes increased activity of three important neurotransmitters in the brain: Serotonin, dopamine and nor-epinephrine. When the substance reaches the brain, the reward center is stimulated. The hyperactivity of serotonin in the brain affects mood and produces the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin; this makes one feel loving and social. Increased dopamine in the brain gives users a blissful feeling which can provide a false sense of comfort and security. The nor-epinephrine causes hyperactivity which is why this drug has become mainly popular in the party scene.
Short-term effects of ecstasy
The short-term effects of the drug include a sense of warmth and security, euphoria, empathy, and increased physical energy. Increased sensory perception is also a potential consequence of taking MDMA. Users of the drug create a friendly, hyperactive impression and may be very alert/wake for hours after use.
When the drug wears off, dopamine levels in the brain drop rapidly, which can cause feelings of depression and irritability. Also known as the MDMA dip.
The long-term effects of ecstasy
The effects of longer or regular use of MDMA include: irregular sleep patterns, unusual bursts of euphoria, and decreased alertness to pain. Physical effects include: sweating, increased blood pressure and heart rate, feeling nauseous/weak, weight loss, and damage to the teeth (from teeth grinding). Long-term use of MDMA also impacts the body mentally. It can lead to paranoia, depression, confusion and aggression.
Symptoms of overdose include: High blood pressure, physical feeling of weakness, panic attacks, loss of consciousness, seizures and high body temperature.
Ecstasy treatment in Spain
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