Club Drugs (cont.)
Ecstasy is the street name for the hallucinogenic methamphetamine derivative methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). First used in psychiatric patients, it became a popular recreational drug because of its hallucinogenic effects. Other street names for ecstasy include X, E, XTC, Adam, M&M, bean, roll, clarity, and essence. It gained popularity in the 1980s and can now be purchased on the street alongside other street drugs like cocaine and heroin.
- What it looks like: Ecstasy is usually taken in capsule or tablet form, although it can also be crushed into a powder and injected, snorted, or smoked. The tablets often come imprinted with popular logos such as Mercedes, Gucci, Nike, Versace, Rolls Royce, Golden Arches, and even Teletubbies.
- What it does: Ecstasy is a popular club drug because of its stimulant properties. Stimulants act on the body by constricting blood flow in the veins and arteries, increasing heart rate and blood pressure, eye pupil dilation, and sweating. The effects of the drug begin 15-60 minutes after ingestion and last
one to six hours. This enables users to dance vigorously for long periods. Ecstasy also enhances feelings of emotional closeness (leading to the nickname "love drug") combined with a sense that everything will be all right.
- Harmful effects: Ecstasy increases chemicals in the body known as catecholamines. These chemicals cause blood vessel constriction and increase heart rate, which can lead to dehydration, high blood pressure, and severe rises in body temperature. It can result in complications like heart attacks, heart failure, strokes, and kidney failure. Death following chronic ecstasy use has been reported. Early deaths are most often due to dehydration that leads to heart, kidney, and liver failure. Later deaths most commonly result from seizures and a condition that causes abnormal chemistries in the blood.
Ecstasy also elevates serotonin levels in the brain, thus causing hallucinations, decreasing appetite, and increasing body temperature. Ecstasy has been shown to damage brain cells, specifically neurons releasing serotonin. "Club kids" often chew on pacifiers to counteract bruxism, or teeth grinding, a common side effect of ecstasy. Chronic use may also lead to chronic mood instability, cognitive impairment, increased impulsivity, or psychosis. Withdrawal symptoms have not been reported.
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