MDMA (Ecstasy)

Synonyms The most common synonyms are:
  • Adam, B-bombs, Beans, Clarity, Crystal, Decadence, Disco biscuit, E, Essence, Euphoria, Eve, Go, Hug drug, Iboga, Love drug, Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, M&M, Molly, Morning shot, Party pills, Pollutants, Rolls, Scooby snacks, Speed for lovers, Sweeties, Wheels, X, XTC.
Classification CNS disruptor (stimulant and hallucinogenic effect):
  • Agent that causes users to see, hear or feel things that do not exist, while stimulating mental functions and increasing the brain's overall alertness.
Visual description
  • Capsules
  • Tablets (come in various colours and are often stamped with designs: happy face, yin/yang symbol, Playboy bunny, dove, etc.)
  • Powder/fine crystals
Mechanism of action
  • Blocks the reuptake and promotes the release of serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline. The emotional and pro social effects of MDMA are likely caused by the release of large amounts of serotonin. Serotonin then triggers the release of the hormones ocytocin and vasopressin, which play an important role in love, trust, sexual arousal and other social experiences. This may explain the feeling of empathy and the increased need for intimacy associated with this drug.
Routes of administration
  • Ingested (the most common route), smoked, injected or snorted.

Effects sought out by the user

  • Desire to communicate with others
  • Distorted perception of time
  • Euphoria
  • Extraversion
  • Heightened sensuality and increased need for intimacy
  • Heightening and distortion of sensory and enjoyment perceptions
  • Intensification of emotions
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Self-confidence
  • Spontaneity

Common toxic effects

When under the influence of this drug, the user feels neither fatigue nor thirst and becomes unresponsive to the alarm bells sent by the body.

  • Anxiety and insomnia
  • Back ache, muscle pain and tension
  • Confusion
  • Defensive attitude
  • Dehydration
  • Depressive state (when coming down from the high)
  • Dilated pupils
  • Disorientation
  • Dry mouth
  • Exhaustion
  • Flushing and excessive sweating
  • Headache
  • Impulsivity
  • Increased heart rate
  • Irrational behaviour
  • Jaw tension
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of motivation
  • Mental fatigue
  • Motor tics, gait disturbance
  • Nystagmus (involuntary, jerky eye movements) and blurred vision
  • Obsessive behaviour
  • Sexual dysfunction: erectile dysfunction; may prevent women from reaching orgasm
  • Tachycardia (increased heart rate)
  • Teeth grinding
  • Trismus (masticatory muscle spasm)
  • Urinary retention or urgent need to urinate

Overdose effects

  • Abnormal increase in body temperature
  • Agitation
  • Angina pectoris
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Convulsions
  • Death
  • Hemorrhage
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney damage
  • Liver damage
  • Muscle damage
  • Panic
  • Psychosis
  • Severe depression
  • Stroke
  • Thrombosis

Effects associated with chronic use

  • Anxiety and persistent fear
  • Hallucination flashbacks
  • Kidney and liver disorders
  • Loss of appetite or decreased appetite and weight loss
  • Major depressive disorder and suicidal thoughts
  • Memory deficits and altered cognitive functions
  • Outbursts of rage
  • Sleep disorder
Toxic effects likely to occur in users who are particularly sensitive or as a result of abuse or prolonged used:
  • Corneal erosion
  • Feelings of unreality
  • Hypertonicity and incontinence
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Panic attacks, suicidal thoughts
  • Paranoid disorder

Tolerance (need to increase the dose to feel the same effect)

Tolerance to MDMA appears to develop quickly. That said, with repeated use, it becomes difficult, if not impossible for users to experience the same effects they did when they first started.

Addiction

Although some users become dependent, very few cases of MDMA-specific dependence have been reported in the literature. Since most users take this drug only occasionally, dependence is not very prominent.

Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms are caused by a depletion of serotonin and may include depression and anxiety. Other symptoms associated with withdrawal are insomnia, panic attacks, agitation, psychosis and paranoid delusions. During withdrawal, users may also experience fatigue, sadness, bad moods and nightmares.

Onset and duration of action

Route of
administration
Onset of
action
Peak
Duration of
action
Ingestedabout 20 to 70 minutes about 2 hours about 4 to 6 hours 

Intoxication management

  • No antidote available.
  • Treatment is mainly symptomatic.

Many different street drugs are sold under the same name. Furthermore, nothing guarantees the quantity, purity or even the content of a street drug in spite of the fact that it may, in some cases, look like medication.

If you need help or want to learn more:

Partnership for a Drug-Free Canada.

www.canadadrugfree.org

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