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Club Drugs (cont.)

Ecstasy

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.

Other Stimulants

Ephedrine: Ephedrine is a stimulant similar to amphetamine and is found naturally in the Chinese herbal medicine "ma-huang" and in "Mormon's tea." College students and truck drivers use it for its stimulant effect. Incorrectly viewed as a safe alternative to amphetamines, this "herbal ecstasy" has been associated with strokes and deaths in adolescents.

Ritalin: Ritalin (generic name, methylphenidate) is a central nervous system stimulant known on the street as vitamin R, R-ball, and skippy. This drug is used to manage attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Stimulants are the primary drugs used in treatment of this disorder and are effective 90% of the time. In the 1990s, the prevalence of methylphenidate use increased by 250% compared to the 1980s, but its use has somewhat declined in the past 10 years.

  • What it looks like: Ritalin is a very difficult drug to make on the street, so users get Ritalin by taking prescriptions for medication written for others. Available in 5-, 10-, and 20-mg immediate-release tablets, the effects of Ritalin last up to four hours. Ritalin 20-mg, sustained-release tablets and Concerta (generic name, methylphenidate) 18-, 36-, and 54-mg extended-release tablets are used illegally on the street and sell for about $5. The legitimate wholesale price is about $0.28 to $1.03 per tablet.
  • What it does: When used as prescribed, Ritalin reduces hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattentiveness. On the street, the drug is used by crushing the tablet and snorting the powder through the nose or by crushing the tablets and dissolving the powder in water before injecting it. Both routes produce euphoria similar to that of cocaine. It is usually taken orally to stay awake.
  • Harmful effects: These include palpitations, hallucinations, paranoia, fainting, agitation, dizziness, seizures, tremors, fever, sweating, chest pain and irregular heartbeats, liver dysfunction, and death. Chronic use can result in withdrawal, which produces symptoms such as lethargy, paranoia, apathy, and depression. These symptoms are similar to those of amphetamine (speed) withdrawal.
  • Similar drugs: dextroamphetamine/amphetamine (Adderall), methylphenidate (Concerta), dexmethylphenidate (Focalin), etc.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/21/2016

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The substance 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA [ie, ecstasy, XTC, Adam, E, X, clarity, Stacy]) is an amphetamine derivative that has gained significant popularity in recent years and has become the recreational drug of choice for many adolescents and young adults.

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