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Effects of Ecstasy   PDF  Print  Email 

Short-Term Effects

While it is not as addictive as heroin or cocaine, MDMA can cause other adverse effects including nausea, hallucinations, chills, sweating, increases in body temperature, tremors, involuntary teeth clenching, muscle cramping, and blurred vision. MDMA users also report after-effects of anxiety, paranoia, and depression. An MDMA overdose is characterized by high blood pressure, faintness, panic attacks, and, in more severe cases, loss of consciousness, seizures, and a drastic rise in body temperature. MDMA overdoses can be fatal, as they may result in heart failure or extreme heat stroke.

Short-term Symptoms of Ecstasy:

  • nausea
  • hallucinations
  • chills & sweating
  • increased body temp
  • tremors
  • muscle cramping
  • blurred vision

The effects start after about 20 minutes and can last for hours. These is a 'rush' feeling followed by a feeling of calm and a sense of well being to those around, often with a heightened perception of colour and sound. Some people actually feel sick and experience a stiffening up of arms, legs and particularly the jaw along with seensations of thirst, sleeplessness, depression and paranoia. Gives a feeling of energy. Some mild hallucinogenic effects.

Many problems users encounter with Ecstasy are similar to those found with the use of amphetamines and cocaine. They include increases in heart rate and blood pressure, nausea, blurred vision, faintness, chills, sweating, and such psychological problems as confusion, depression, sleep problems, craving, severe anxiety, paranoia, and psychotic episodes. Ecstasy's chemical cousin, MDA, destroys cells that produce serotonin in the brain.

These cells play a direct roll in regulating aggression, mood, sexual activity, sleep, and sensitivity to pain. Methamphetamine, also similar to Ecstasy, damages brain cells that produce dopamine. Scientists have now shown that Ecstacy not only makes the brain's nerve branches and endings degenerate, but also makes them "regrow, but abnormally - failing to reconnect with some brain areas and connecting elsewhere with the wrong areas. These reconnections may be permanent, resulting in cognitive impairments, changes in emotion, learning, memory, or hormone-like chemical abnormalities.

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Long-Term Effects

The effects of long-term MDMA use are just beginning to undergo scientific analysis. In 1998, the National Institute of Mental Health conducted a study of a small group of habitual MDMA users who were abstaining from use. The study revealed that the abstinent users suffered damage to the neurons in the brain that transmit serotonin, an important biochemical involved in a variety of critical functions including learning, sleep, and integration of emotion. The results of the study indicate that recreational MDMA users may be at risk of developing permanent brain damage that may manifest itself in depression, anxiety, memory loss, and other neuropsychotic disorders.

MDMA stimulates the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin from brain neurons, producing a high that lasts from several minutes to an hour. The drug's rewarding effects vary with the individual taking it, the dose and purity, and the environment in which it is taken. MDMA can produce stimulant effects such as an enhanced sense of pleasure and self-confidence and increased energy. Its psychedelic effects include feelings of peacefulness, acceptance, and empathy. Users claim they experience feelings of closeness with others and a desire to touch them. Because MDMA engenders feelings of closeness and trust and has a short duration of action, some clinicians claim that the drug is potentially valuable as a psychotherapeutic agent. However, MDMA is classified by Federal regulators as a drug with no accepted medical use.

Index of Terms

TermDefinition
Amphetamines Often called "speed" this drug is a synthetically produced Central Nervous System (CNS) stimulant with cocaine-like effects.
Cocaine A bitter, crystalline drug obtained from the dried leaves of the coca shrub; it is a local anesthetic and a dangerous, illegal stimulant; the primary psychoactive ingredient in the coca plant and a behavioral-affecting drug.
Heroin A white crystalline "narcotic" powder derived from "morphine", formerly used as a painkiller and sedative.
MDMA MDMA is an illegal drug that acts as both a stimulant and "hallucinogen", producing an energizing effect, as well as distortions in time and perception and enhanced enjoyment from tactile experiences.
Methamphetamine A powerfully addictive stimulant that dramatically affects the central nervous system.
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