MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, is one of the most popular recreational drugs in the world. Although United Nations agreements and national laws make it illegal in most countries, millions of people use the drug in clubs, bars, and raves every year. Understanding the history, uses, and potential dangers of ecstasy is critical for communities to prevent the spread of drug addiction.
Ecstasy was first produced in Germany during the early twentieth century. It was actually an intermediary product in the development of another drug, and its properties were largely ignored until the 1950s. It was then that German scientists and United States military personnel began to conduct experiments on the drug, comparing its effects to those of mescaline and other psychotropics. Civilians in the United states began using ecstasy for recreational purposes in the 1960s.
Throughout the 1970s and 80s, MDMA grew in popularity as it spread through the club and rave scene in America. People reported feelings of relaxation and decreased social anxiety when using the drug, and it earned its common name from the feelings of connectedness and euphoria it brought to people who used it in group settings. Although it was not included for scheduling in the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, Congress outlawed ecstasy’s recreational use in 1985. It is now a schedule I drug and carries similar legal penalties to heroin, cocaine, and marijuana.
Some studies indicate MDMA may be useful in psychiatric settings. It typically triggers an increase in levels of oxytocin, a hormone responsible for feelings of trust. Patients suffering from anxiety or paranoia may thus be more willing to share their thoughts and feelings with psychiatrists while using ecstasy. Overall, the current research is inconclusive on ecstasy’s clinical benefits.
However, there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence regarding the recreational use of ecstasy. Most people who admit to trying MDMA report effects including increased energy, hyperactivity, heightened pain tolerance, and general euphoria. They also claim that ecstasy makes them more willing to divulge personal information and connect with the people around them.
Regardless of such benefits, ecstasy is extremely dangerous. The hyperactivity and alertness it brings users are often followed by dangerously elevated body temperatures, dehydration, and exhaustion. Increased mental acuity and alertness also give way to anxiety, depression, and a lack of focus once the drug’s effects wear off. In fact, habitual ecstasy users often display the same level of paranoia and social isolation as people addicted to cocaine and heroin.
Though ecstasy users rarely form physical dependencies, they do become psychologically addicted to its effects. They often display addictive behavior patterns as they obsess over their next highs, go to great lengths to acquire more, and ignore the consequences of their habits.
Ecstasy is also particularly dangerous because of the high likelihood of overdose. Since MDMA causes rapid heartbeats and dangerous elevations in body temperature, users frequently toe the line between their ideal highs and serious injuries. Hundreds of teens and young adults die of overdose each year at raves and parties.
If you are struggling with addiction to ecstasy or other drugs, follow the links below for a confidential, toll-free consultation. Our dedicated addiction specialists will help you choose the treatment plan that’s right for you. Don’t wait any longer – now is the time to begin your recovery.
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