What is Ecstasy?

The chemical abbreviation for the so-called “designer” drug Ecstasy is MDMA.

Users of Ecstasy may encounter problems similar to those experienced by amphetamine and cocaine users, including addiction.

In addition to its rewarding effects, Ecstasy´s psychological effects can include confusion, depression, sleep problems, anxiety, and paranoia, and sometimes weeks after taking the drug. Physical effects can include muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, faintness, and chills or sweating. Increases in heart rate and blood pressure are a special risk for people with circulatory or heart disease

Ecstasy related fatalities at “raves” (large, all night dance parties) have been reported. The stimulant effects of Ecstacy, which enable the user to dance for extended periods, combined with the hot, crowded conditions usually found at raves can lead to dehydration, hyperthermia, and heart or kidney failure.

MDMA damages brain serotonin neurons. Serotonin plays a role in regulating mood, memory, sleep, and appetite. Heavy use of MDMA causes persistent memory problems in humans.

What are the long-term effects of Ecstasy use?

MDMA (Ecstasy) causes long-lasting damage to brain areas that are critical for thought and memory.

The serotonin system, which is compromised by MDMA, is fundamental to the brain´s integration of information and emotions. At the very least, people who take MDMA, even just a few times, are risking long-term, perhaps permanent, problems with learning and memory.

The nerve cells (neurons) damaged by MDMA are those that use the chemical serotonin to communicate with other neurons.

MDMA causes more damage to serotonin neurons in some part of the brain than in others. Areas particularly affected are the neocortex (the outer part of the brain where conscious thoughts occur) and hippocampus whish play a key role in forming long-term memories.
Findings from a number of studies suggest that Ecstasy/MDMA use may lead to impairments in other cognitive functions besides memory, such as the ability to reason verbally or sustain attention.

The neurotoxic effects of the drug suggest that the loss of serotonin neurons in humans could possibly be permanent. 

Ecstasy has a stimulant effect, causing similar euphoria and increased alertness as cocaine and amphetamine. It also causes psychedelic effects. First used in the 80s, it has become a drug of choice of young people attending raves.

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