What is Ecstasy?

Ecstasy (X, XTC, E, Adam, Clarity, Roll) or MDMA (3-4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine), is a synthetic drug with amphetamine-like and hallucinogenic properties. It is generally taken in pill form. It produces increased energy and mood enhancement. Users report feelings of euphoria, well-being, enhanced mental or emotional clarity, anxiety, or paranoia. MDMA's effects last approximately 3 to 6 hours. Heavier doses have been associated with hallucinations, sensations of lightness and floating, depression, paranoid thinking, and impulsive behavior.

Short-term effects include psychological difficulties such as confusion, depression, sleep problems, drug craving, severe anxiety, and paranoia. During and sometimes weeks after taking MDMA, physical symptoms such as muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, rapid eye movement, faintness, and chills or sweating may occur.

Recent research findings link MDMA to long-term damage to those parts of the brain critical to thought and memory. Chronic use of MDMA was found, first in laboratory animals and more recently in humans, to produce long-lasting, perhaps permanent, damage to the neurons that release serotonin. Memory impairment, cognitive deficits, and altered brain functioning has been observed in humans and in animals receiving dosages of MDMA that match amounts typically taken by recreational MDMA users (McCann, Eligulashvili, & Ricaurte, 2000; Ricaurte, Yuan, & McCann, 2000).

Ecstasy can be extremely dangerous in high doses and when used with alcohol and other drugs. It may cause heart attacks, strokes, and seizures. Increased body temperature can cause kidney and cardiovascular system failure leading to death. Because different recipes are used to manufacture MDMA, deaths have also been caused by other substances inadvertently created during production, such as PMA (paramethamphetamine) (Texas Commision on Alcohol & Drug Abuse; NIDA).

Ecstasy use in the United States is illegal. MDMA is a Schedule I Controlled Substance.