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MDMA (3, 4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine), commonly referred to as Ecstasy, is a psychoactive drug possessing stimulant and hallucinogenic properties. MDMA possesses chemical variations of the stimulant amphetamine or methamphetamine and a hallucinogen, most often mescaline.
MDMA was first synthesized in 1912 by a German company possibly to be used as an appetite suppressant. Chemically, it is an analogue of MDA, a drug that was popular in the 1960s. In the late 1970s, MDMA was used to facilitate psychotherapy by a small group of therapists in the United States. Illicit use of the drug did not become popular until the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Ecstasy is taken orally, usually in tablet or capsule form, and its effects last approximately four to six hours. Users of the drug say that it produces profoundly positive feelings, empathy for others, elimination of anxiety, enhancement of the senses, and extreme relaxation. Ecstasy is also said to suppress the need to eat or sleep, enabling users to endure two- to three-day parties. Consequently, Ecstasy use sometimes results in severe dehydration or exhaustion. While it is not as addictive as heroin or cocaine, ecstasy can cause other adverse effects including nausea, hallucinations, chills, sweating, increases in body temperature, tremors, involuntary teeth clenching, muscle cramping, and blurred vision. Ecstasy users also report after-effects of anxiety, paranoia, and depression. An ecstasy 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. Ecstasy overdoses can be fatal, as they may result in heart failure or extreme heat stroke.
Ecstasy is most
often distributed at late-night parties called "raves," nightclubs,
and rock concerts. As the rave and club scene expands to metropolitan and suburban
areas across the country, ecstasy use and distribution are increasing as well.
Ecstasy is often used in combination with other substances. Once a person begins
using Ecstasy or begins frequenting events where Ecstasy is widely used, a vast
array of drugs become accessible as well. Ecstasy users often seek to increase
their high by combining their pill with a dose of marijuana, LSD, ketamine,
GHB, amphetamines, cocaine, or heroin. This experimentation can lead to addiction.
The effects of long-term ecstasy 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 ecstasy 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 ecstasy users may be at risk of developing permanent brain damage that may manifest itself in depression, anxiety, memory loss, and other neuropsychotic disorders.
What is ecstasy?
MDMA or ecstasy is a Schedule I synthetic, psychoactive drug possessing stimulant and hallucinogenic properties. Ecstasy possesses chemical variations of the stimulant amphetamine or methamphetamine and a hallucinogen, most often mescaline.
Commonly referred to as Ecstasy or XTC, MDMA was first synthesized in 1912 by a German company possibly to be used as an appetite suppressant. Chemically, it is an analogue of MDA, a drug that waspopular in the 1960s. In the late 1970s, MDMA was used to facilitate psychotherapy by a small group of therapists in the United States. Illicit use of the drug did not become popular until the late 1980s and early 1990s. Ecstasy is frequently used in combination with other drugs. However, it is rarely consumed with alcohol, as alcohol is believed to diminish its effects. It is most often distributed at late-night parties called "raves," nightclubs, and rock concerts. As the rave and club scene expands to metropolitan and suburban areas across the country, ecstasy use and distribution are increasing as well.
How is Ecstasy Used?
Ecstasy is most often available in tablet form and is usually ingested orally. It is also available as a powder and is sometimes snorted and occasionally smoked, but rarely injected. Its effects last approximately four to six hours. Users of the drug say that it produces profoundly positive feelings, empathy for others, elimination of anxiety, and extreme relaxation. Ecstasy is also said to suppress the need to eat, drink, or sleep, enabling users to endure two- to three-day parties. Consequently, ecstasy use sometimes results in severe dehydration or exhaustion.
Where does ecstasy come from?
Clandestine laboratories operating throughout Western Europe, primarily the Netherlands and Belgium, manufacture significant quantities of the drug in tablet, capsule, or powder form. Although the vast majority of ecstasy consumed domestically is produced in Europe, a limited number of ecstasy labs operate in the United States. In addition, in recent years, Israeli organized crime syndicates, some composed of Russian émigrés associated with Russian organized crime syndicates, have forged relationships with Western European traffickers and gained control over a significant share of the European market. The Israeli syndicates are currently the primary source to U.S. distribution groups.
trafficking organizations smuggle the drug in shipments of 10,000 or more tablets
via express mail services, couriers aboard commercial airline flights, or, more
recently, through air freight shipments from several major European cities to
cities in the United States. The drug is sold in bulk quantity at the mid-wholesale
level in the United States for approximately eight dollars per dosage unit.
The retail price of ecstasy sold in clubs in the United States remains steady
at twenty to thirty dollars per dosage unit. Ecstasy traffickers consistently
use brand names and logos as marketing tools and to distinguish their product
from that of competitors. The logos are produced to coincide with holidays or
special events. Among the more popular logos are butterflies, lightning bolts,
and four-leaf clovers
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