Ecstasy or MDMA: "The drug of love" and its effects

Ecstasy or MDMA: "The drug of love" and its effects

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Ecstasy is the name of the street or trade name of the MDMA (Methylene-dioxy-methamphetamine), a designer drug or synthetic psychoactive drug manufactured in clandestine laboratories and whose use is neither pharmacological nor therapeutic. It is called the drug of love why facilitates empathy (entactogenesis), sociability, closeness and interpersonal contact.

In other words, ecstasy is composed of Methamphetamine, a very potent stimulant of the Central Nervous System, to which free radicals have been added to enhance the stimulatory effect and also cause hallucinogenic effects.

MDMA (ecstasy or ecstasy) is not as recent, as it was already used in the United States in the 1970s. But it was from the '90s when its use began to massify in that same country.


  • 1 MDMA presentation forms
  • 2 Places of ecstasy use
  • 3 Artifacts associated with the use of ecstasy
  • 4 Biological effects of MDMA
  • 5 Complications of Ecstasy
  • 6 Post-MDMA effects

MDMA presentation forms

This drug is presented mainly in tablets or tablets of oral administration. Said tablet may contain only MDMA or have added other chemical elements, controlled or not controlled, such as: caffeine, ketamine or ephedrine.

In the vast majority of tablets MDMA is presented pure, although it has been determined that in 10% of seizures made in the USA, tablets also have other components.

In each tablet there can be between 10 to 200 milligrams of methamphetamine content. The common thing is to find 60 to 110 milligrams. It is important to mention that the clinical dose of Methamphetamine is 5 to 10 milligrams, that is, an ecstasy tablet can contain up to 20 times more methamphetamine than a clinical dose.

The tablets are presented in different colors, shapes and designs, which are fun and attractive to young people, such as car brands, acronyms of internationally famous institutions, Disney figures, happy faces, pacifist symbols, etc. This makes it clear that these tablets have not been manufactured in pharmaceutical laboratories and that their target audience is young people. The sizes of the tablets are variable and range from very small pills, to some of the size of a coin of 10 Chilean pesos.

The tablets with the same size, color or logo does not imply that they contain the same MDMA content, since when they are made in different clandestine laboratories, the content of MDMA will depend rather on these and whether or not the compound contains additives. Pills with the same logos and shapes have been seized in different countries, where analyzes have shown that despite the same appearance, the contents of chemical compounds are very variable.

Places of ecstasy use

Usually in the USA the use of ecstasy occurs in RAVE parties, clubs and discos, although it has also been registered, in a smaller proportion, its use in private situations.

In general practice, RAVE refers to a party that lasts all night, open to all audiences, where “techno” music predominates. The number of people in these events is variable, can range from 50 people to 25,000. The cost of access to these events is also variable. The term "RAVE" means: speak irrationally or as if in delirium. Frantic, accelerated, rowdy. Speak with extreme enthusiasm. Move or act violently, aggressively. A typical RAVE is a young man between 15 and 25 years old, white, urban and who does not perceive risk in the use of drugs.

Artifacts associated with the use of ecstasy

In the USA, many artifacts used by ecstasy consumers have been detected, which is associated with the effects of the drug. Rubber pacifiers (for babies), chewing gum, mentholatum tubes, candy pacifiers or other candies, body massage devices, and phosphorescent sticks are common.

Although it seems strange, everything mentioned above makes sense. Because MDMA is a very potent stimulant, some of its side effects are bruxism (clenching of the jaws and grinding of teeth), great muscular tension, accelerated increase in body temperature, among others. Pacifiers and candies are used to control bruxism. Massage devices help control muscle tension in the neck, shoulders and back. Phosphorescent tubes or sticks are agitated by consumers, which plays a role in hallucinogenic effects, given the increased visual perception activated by the MDMA stimulating effect. Menthol artifacts refresh the face to control high body temperature.

It is also usual that in the places where RAVE parties are held, the water supply is cut off so that it is necessary to pay for it, that “cooling” rooms are enabled to go to lower the body temperature and that there are massage tables to relieve the muscle tension. All this is part of the business of those who rent their premises for this type of event.

Biological effects of MDMA

As already mentioned, ecstasy is used in tablets with methamphetamine concentration ranges from 10 to 200 milligrams. In a single night users get to consume 3 to 4 pills. It is used orally, although it is possible to smoke it or grind the tablets to inhale or even inject them, although it is not usual.

The effects are achieved 30 to 45 minutes after intake. The maximum effect appears between 60 to 90 minutes after intake. The total duration of the effects fluctuates between 4 to 6 hours.

The higher the doses, the higher the concentration of MDMA in the blood, thus greatly increasing the toxicity. The half-life of MDMA metabolites in blood is 8 to 10 hours. In this way, the phased use of pills, for example, 3 pills of 110 mg. in a single night, it could mean reaching a concentration of 330 mg. MDMA in the blood, since the half-life is longer, the substance is concentrated.

The stimulating effects of MDMA cause a rapid and increasing increase in body temperature, which adds to the high concentration of people in an enclosed area. All this causes rapid dehydration.

It also greatly increases the perception of the visual, auditory and tactile senses. Therefore, the presence of many colored lights, techno music and caresses among the participants are a complement and an effect of drug activation.

There is greater euphoria, energy and excitement, but as adverse effects are observed nausea and vomiting, muscle contractures and arrhythmias.

Complications of Ecstasy

Experimentation of adverse effects does not depend on the dose or concentration of MDMA in the blood, but rather on the tolerance of each organism. A person who consumes high doses may not suffer the adverse effects, as someone who has used low doses may feel them. In other words, there is no correlation between the concentration of the drug in the body and its adverse effects.

MDMA causes serotonin release and hinders the recovery of this neurotransmitter. The consumption of the drug causes the "serotonin syndrome" having a high concentration of it in the brain, causing: hyperthermia, arrhythmias, mental confusion and psychomotor agitation.

The results of the hyperthermia caused by the use of MDMA are: dehydration, seizures, hemoglobin release in blood, kidney damage, liver damage and intravascular coagulation (The blood forms clots in different organs with a consequent loss of oxygen).

The use of MDMA can cause water intoxication (hyponatremia), whose clinical effects are: nausea, vomiting, weakness and confusion.

MDMA-induced hepatotoxicity can range from minor liver dysfunction to complete liver damage.

There may also be dental damage due to bruxism.

Post-use effects of MDMA

On the next day of intake, a great lack of serotonin in the brain, drowsiness, muscle pain, anxiety, paranoia and isolation can be observed.

The effects a few days later may be an MDMA-induced neurotoxicity, with irreversible long-term damage to brain cells.

Animal studies at John Hoskyns University have demonstrated the effects of MDMA on brain cells. Damage to the cortex of serotonergic axons is observed in neurons. These experiments on "lower" animals (rats and monkeys) are extrapolated to the use and effects in humans of the substance.

Some observations have also been made in humans using brain scans and imaging. It has been possible to observe that in the brains of MDMA users there is a reduction in serotonin, the one that is below the normal level. These neurotoxic effects are recorded even in individuals who once used MDMA, but who have stopped doing so for a long time.

Finally, there is some evidence of memory damage, although it has not been possible to determine whether it is due to an exclusive use of MDMA or due to the use of other drugs, such as cannabis for example.

Juan Carlos Araneda Ferrer