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What is Ecstasy?. Ecstasy is MDMA, or 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine. It belongs to a family of drugs called “enactogens,” which literally means “touching within.”. What is Ecstasy?. Before it was made illegal in 1985, MDMA was used by psychiatrists as a therapeutic tool.

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What is Ecstasy?


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    1. What is Ecstasy? • Ecstasy is MDMA, or 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine. It belongs to a family of drugs called “enactogens,” whichliterally means “touching within.”

    2. What is Ecstasy? • Before it was made illegal in 1985, MDMA was used by psychiatrists as a therapeutic tool. • Ecstasy has gained popularity over the past 20 years because of its ability to produce strong feelings of comfort, empathy, and connection to others.

    3. What are its effects? • Ecstasy causes serotonin neurons to release large amounts of serotonin. This is responsible for the primary subjective effects of MDMA. MDMA also releases the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine.

    4. What are its dangers? • Frequent or high doses have been linked to neurotoxic damage in laboratory animals. • Dancing for long periods of time without replenishing lost body fluids can result in heat stroke, or malignant hyperthermia.

    5. What are its dangers? • Much of what is sold as “ecstasy” may contain other drugs, which may be more dangeorous than MDMA (speed, DXM, or PCP). • Mixing ecstasy with alcohol or other drugs increases the risk of adverse reactions.

    6. Where is it produced? • MDMA is produced everywhere, but the main exporter of the drug is The Netherlands, because of its easy access to precursor chemicals along with international air and rail transportation hubs.

    7. Trends in MDMA use • MDMA has been used increasingly among college students and young adults in recent years, and is also being used at relatively high levels by America's 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, according to a 1996 study. • The study also found that nearly 5% of 10th and 12th graders and about 2% of 8th graders said they had used MDMA in the past year.

    8. The history of MDMA • 1912: MDMA first synthesized by Merck Pharmaceuticals. • 1953: The Army Chemical Center studied MDMA toxicity by giving MDMA to guinea pigs, rats, mice, monkeys, and dogs.       

    9. The history of MDMA • c. 1967: The first small underground batches of MDMA are synthesized. • 1976: The first scholarly article on MDMA is published.    

    10. The history of MDMA • c. 1977: MDMA begins to be available on the street as a recreational drug.  • 1985: MDMA becomes illegal.

    11. Questions?