3-4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is a synthetic psychoactive drug with hallucinogenic and stimulant properties. It is the base of the drug ecstasy and usually available in pill or tablet form. People who use it experience increased energy, pleasure, emotional warmth and a distorted sensory and time perception.
Though MDMA is the base for ecstasy, it is often used in a small amount in the drug. People often use ecstasy as a base for MDMA along with other substances, such as cocaine, ketamine, methamphetamine or over-the-counter cough medicine. Either way, MDMA is dangerous in high doses due to its side effects, which include:
- Involuntary jaw clenching and teeth grinding
- Chills, sweating
- Muscle cramping
- Blurred vision
- Marked rise in body temperature (hyperthermia)
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat and heart failure
- Kidney failure
Though the initial effects of MDMA die down after several hours, some effects can last for more than a week. These can include:
- Sleep disturbances
- Memory loss
- Decreased libido and pleasure from sex
- Marked disturbance in mental abilities
- Anxiety or restlessness
- Irritability, aggression or Impulsiveness
- Loss of appetite
- Persistent thirst
Effects of MDMA on human brain
MDMA affects three chemicals in the human brain – dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin.
MDMA makes the brain release a large amount of dopamine, which in turn, leads to increased energy and euphoria. The high volume of norepinephrine released by the human brain leads to an increase in the heart rate and blood pressure. Serotonin released due to MDMA use creates emotional closeness, elevated mood and feeling of empathy.
After prolonged use of MDMA, the brains eventually cease to produce the chemicals on its own. This, in turn, makes it difficult to feel certain emotions without the drug. This is a double-edged sword – more the drug used, fewer the effects one experiences with time. This is called tolerance and it could lead to MDMA abuse, where people end up consuming the drug too much or too often to feel the desired effects, or even the usual emotions. MDMA abuse, in turn, can lead to MDMA dependence and addiction.