MDMA, known as Molly or Ecstasy, is a stimulant and hallucinogenic drug that causes feelings of euphoria, pleasure, increased energy, and increased sensory perception. Due to the effects of MDMA, it is often taken as party drug and it popular at concerts and raves. Many users, however, are unaware of the dangers of MDMA, as well as the potential dangers of additives that are often combined with the drug. MDMA affects three major brain chemicals: dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. MDMA’s effects on dopamine and serotonin cause the feelings of euphoria and energy that define the MDMA high, while its interaction with norepinephrine in the brain causes increases in heart rate and blood pressure, which could lead to lethal consequences in users who have heart problems. Fatal MDMA overdose is rare, but is possible. Symptoms of overdose include panic attacks, hypertension, faintness, loss of consciousness, and seizures. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Because of its stimulant properties and the situations in which it is often taken, MDMA is associated with vigorous physical activity for extended periods in warm environments. This can lead to one of the most significant, although rare, acute adverse effects—a marked rise in body temperature (hyperthermia).” MDMA interferes with the body’s ability to regulate temperature, causing dehydration, kidney failure, or brain swelling. Acute health effects can include nausea, chills, sweating, blurred vision, and muscle cramping. After the acute effects have worn off, however, a user may experience anxiety, depression, decreased pleasure, irritability, and problems with memory and attention in the week following use. Drugs being sold as MDMA are often impure and can contain much more dangerous substances. Methamphetamine, cocaine, ketamine, and synthetic cathinones (commonly referred to as “bath salts”), have all been found present in drugs sold as MDMA. When these drugs are mixed with MDMA, the possibility of experiencing dangerous health complications is greatly increased. MDMA is addictive and users can experience withdrawal after cessation of drug use. Fatigue, depression, loss of appetite, and decreased cognitive function are all possible results of MDMA addiction.
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