Ecstasy Research Paper

Facts about Ecstasy

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     Ecstasy, or MDMA, has become a major drug problem in the last few years. Although it is widely used, it has been proven to be dangerous. Ecstasy is a designer drug, which means it is synthetically made by street chemists. These people are not usually certified chemists and are in it for the money. This makes taking E even more dangerous.
Ecstasy effects are very similar to Amphetamines and speed. Although the chemical structure is not similar to these other drugs, the effect on the body is the same. This is an informational article and in no way endorses the use of ecstasy, since it is a dangerous and illegal drug.
     Ecstasy, since it is highly illegal, naturally has many names to cover its true identity. Ecstasy is also known as MDMA, pills, Adam and eve, X, E, Ecstacy, XTC, or Adam. Some fake-ecstasy drugs can be bought over the counter, such as Cloud 9, or The Pill. These are herbal fakes, and are considered by experts to not be anything like ecstasy in its true form. They may say they are ecstasy, but they really aren’t.
     A average person must take 100-159 milligrams orally to feel the full effects of this drug. The drug works quickly, and effects will be noticed about forty-five minutes later. As with other drugs, if it is smoked, snorted, or injected, it will work quicker.
The physical effects generally last about eight hours. The mental effects can last much longer, with them trailing off around one or two days.
                     MENTAL EFFECTS
     The mental effects of ecstasy are sometimes hard to describe since they are mental feelings. Scientists have classified the major mental effects of ecstasy.
Entactogenesis is the first major effect of ecstasy when people feel that everything is right and good with the world. They also find interest in common everyday objects. They just have a general happy feeling. Empathogenesis is the next major effect of ecstasy; it is seems to create a feeling of closeness to others and a breakdown of communication barriers. So it seems to make you be much for open with people than before. This effect probably helped ecstasy earn its name of the Love Drug.
                    PHYSICAL EFFECTS
     MDMA can create any number of physical effects such as dizziness, accelerated heartbeat, sweating, insomnia, incessant talking, euphoria are all experienced. Many users report a loss of judgment, which can threaten physical health. Almost every user of ecstasy has major loss of body fluid through sweating.

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This leads to dehydration and eventual collapse of body functions. Most users do not take this into consideration and dance the entire night without replenishing body liquids. This in can potentially cause any number of symptoms some of which include delirium. Some users even pass out because of massive dehydration. Death has resulted from ecstasy, although the chance of dieing from it is rather low.

      Since it is a street drug, quality is not guaranteed. Many Ecstasy pills don’t even contain MDMA. Some contain anything from sugar to speed. This can pose a major health risk to people who don’t know what they are taking. Usually a “trip” on MDMA usually costs anywhere from fifteen dollars all the way up to thirty dollars. The length of the trip and the quality of it all depend on what you pay in the end. Since it is illegal, there are no laws to control quality and formula. So if you bought ecstasy, you could be buying anything.
     In the modern world, the most commonplace ecstasy is found at is a rave. A rave usually is a gathering of people from as few as 45 to as many as 10,000 people. Most raves are secret and are held with out the general public knowing of them. Raves also sport techno music, DJ’s, lighting effects, and other assorted dance equipment. These are generally part of the average E experience. Since most people experience Ecstasy at raves, the Rave has become a bad thing to the public. The DEA has cracked down on many raves, many of which did, in fact, have amounts of ecstasy on the grounds.
     MDMA causes a increase in heart rate and blood pressure in most people similar to that experienced in moderate exercise. So, people with heart problems, stroke, or hypersensitivity to drugs should not take ecstasy. It has now been proven in lab animals that ecstasy totally depletes the serotonin level in your brain, which can cause damage to neurons if the serotonin is not allowed to recover. The long-term effects of Ecstasy have shown that brain damage is possible and eventual Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s symptoms arise. So it could even thirty years later, still manage to come back and ruin your life. Ecstasy has also been proven as a blood thinner, so if a user got cut, they risk the possibility to die from bleeding since their blood can’t clot.
                     SIMILAR DRUGS
     Some similar drugs that are sometimes related to MDMA are GHB, MDDB, MDE, MMDA, MDA, and MDEA. Most of these drugs are very similar to MDMA in chemical composition. They create a similar effect on the body too. Some daring users mix ecstasy with other drugs such as PCP, cocaine, heroin, pot, and speed. This usually results in major effects on the body. Some of the users even die from the doses they take. Although the death rate of ecstasy is lower than many things, it is much higher if you mix it with other potentially dangerous drugs. Some users even end up in a coma, which is actually usually worse than death, since you are immobile for the rest of your life.
It is illegal to posses, sell, or produce Ecstasy. The DEA has established severe penalties of breaking any of the laws surrounding MDMA. The Fine for producing ecstasy is $250,000 and fifteen years in prison. The selling or possession of the drug is lower, with a fine from $25,000 to up to $100,000 with some imprisonment. As you can see, the DEA strictly enforces the laws surrounding ecstasy.
     The Merck chemical company first produced MDMA in 1914 as a diet suppressant. Although its roots go deeper to MDA, its grandparent drug, MDMA was a diet suppressant until adverse side effects were noted. MDMA first became popular in the 1970’s as the “love drug”. At the time it was a good legal substitute to MDA. MDMA became very popular and by 1985, it came to the attention of the DEA, and they quickly made it illegal in 1985. They classified it as a Class A drug, which is the highest level a illegal drug can reach. Other Drugs in Class A include; heroin, PCP, cocaine, and LSD. These drugs are considered the most threats to the population and have the largest abusers. For the DEA these are the drugs are most dangerous and they actively rage a non-violent drug war against them.

     Ecstasy is a very dangerous drug that should be handled with respect. The adverse effects on the brain are not fully known at the time and many people have ended up ruining their lives by taking ecstasy. Ecstasy is a drug that not much is known about and is considered by the government to be a hazard to life. In the end, ecstasy is dangerous, and even more dangerous when abused.

This list includes original research and reviews of literature about psychedelic compounds (such as LSD, psilocybin, and MDMA), with a strong focus on research in humans.

The list is not intended to be comprehensive. This collection exists to present a broad survey of the currently available literature, and to introduce readers to the clinical psychedelic research literature. Readers may wish to investigate the reference lists of any paper that interests them to locate further reports.

View our official Publication Policy for papers and presentations mentioning MAPS-sponsored research.

Featured MDMA Research

  • Feduccia, A. A., Holland, J., & Mithoefer, M. C. (2017) Progress and promise for the MDMA drug development program. Psychopharmacology 1-11.
  • Mithoefer M, Grob C, Brewerton T (2016) Novel psychopharmacological therapies for psychiatric disorders: psilocybin and MDMA. The Lancet Psychiatry 3 (5): 481–488
  • Heifets B, Malenk R (2016) MDMA as a Probe and Treatment for Social Behaviors. Cell 166: 269-272
  • Danforth A, Struble C, Yazar-Klosinski B, Grob C (2016) MDMA-assisted therapy: A new treatment model for social anxiety in autistic adults. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry 64: 237–249
  • Mithoefer M, Wagner M, Mithoefer A, Jerome L, Martin S, Yazar-Klosinski B, Michel Y, Brewerton T, Doblin R (2013) Durability of improvement in post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and absence of harmful effects or drug dependency after 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine-assisted psychotherapy: a prospective long-term follow-up study. J Psychopharmacol 27(1): 28-39
  • Oehen P, Traber R, Widmer V, Schnyder U (2013) A randomized, controlled pilot study of MDMA (±3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine)- assisted psychotherapy for treatment of resistant, chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Journal of Psychopharmacology 27(1): 40–52
  • Jerome L, Schuster S, Yazar-Klosinski B (2013) Can MDMA Play a Role in the Treatment of Substance Abuse? Current Drug Abuse Reviews 6: 54-62
  • Mithoefer M, Wagner M, Mithoefer A, Jerome L, Doblin R (2010) The safety and efficacy of ±3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine-assisted psychotherapy in subjects with chronic, treatment-resistant posttraumatic stress disorder: the first randomized controlled pilot study. Journal of Psychopharmacology 25(4): 439–452
  • Sumnall H, Cole J, Jerome L (2006) The varieties of ecstatic experience: an exploration of the subjective experiences of ecstasy. Journal of Psychopharmacology 20(5): 670–682
  • Greer G, Tolbert R (1986) Subjective Reports of the Effects of MDMA in a Clinical Setting. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 18(4): 319-327

Additional MDMA Resources

Featured Ibogaine Research

Featured LSD Research

Additional Psychedelic Research

  • Barbanoj MJ, Riba J, Clos S, Gimenez S, Grasa E, Romero S (2008) Daytime ayahuasca administration modulates REM and slow-wave sleep in healthy volunteers. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 196: 315-326 (PDF)
  • Bedi G, Phan KL, Angstadt M, de Wit H (2009) Effects of MDMA on sociability and neural response to social threat and social reward. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 207: 73-83 (PDF)
  • Bouso JC, Doblin R, Farre M, Alcazar MA, Gomez-Jarabo G (2008) MDMA-assisted psychotherapy using low doses in a small sample of women with chronic posttraumatic stress disorder. J Psychoactive Drugs 40: 225-236 (PDF)
  • Carter OL, Hasler F, Pettigrew JD, Wallis GM, Liu GB, Vollenweider FX (2007) Psilocybin links binocular rivalry switch rate to attention and subjective arousal levels in humans. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 195: 415-24 (PDF)
  • Doblin R (1998) Dr. Leary's Concord Prison Experiment: a 34-year follow-up study. J Psychoactive Drugs 30: 419-426. (PDF) ( HTML version). Additional commentary is available in Ralph Metzner's Reflections on the Concord Prison Experiment and the Follow-Up Study.
  • Dumont GJ, Sweep FC, van der Steen R, Hermsen R, Donders AR, Touw DJ, van Gerven JM, Buitelaar JK, Verkes RJ (2009)Increased oxytocin concentrations and prosocial feelings in humans after ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) administration. Soc Neurosci 4: 359-366 (PDF)
  • Dyck E (2005) Flashback: psychiatric experimentation with LSD in historical perspective. Can J Psychiatry 50: 381-388 (PDF)
  • Fantegrossi WE, Murnane KS, Reissig CJ (2008) The behavioral pharmacology of hallucinogens. Biochem Pharmacol 75: 17-33 (PDF)
  • Gamma A, Buck A, Berthold T, Liechti ME, Vollenweider FX (2000) 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) modulates cortical and limbic brain activity as measured by [H(2)(15)O]-PET in healthy humans. Neuropsychopharmacology 23: 388-95 (PDF)
  • Geyer MA, Vollenweider FX (2008) Serotonin research: contributions to understanding psychoses. Trends Pharmacol Sci 29: 445-453. (PDF)
  • Gouzoulis-Mayfrank E, Schreckenberger M, Sabri O, Arning C, Thelen B, Spitzer M, Kovar KA, Hermle L, Bull U, Sass H (1999) Neurometabolic effects of psilocybin, 3,4-methylenedioxyethylamphetamine (MDE) and d-methamphetamine in healthy volunteers. A double-blind, placebo-controlled PET study with [18F]FDG. Neuropsychopharmacology 20: 565-581 (PDF)
  • Gouzoulis-Mayfrank E, Thelen B, Habermeyer E, Kunert HJ, Kovar KA, Lindenblatt H, Hermle L, Spitzer M, Sass H (1999)Psychopathological, neuroendocrine and autonomic effects of 3,4-methylenedioxyethylamphetamine (MDE), psilocybin and d-methamphetamine in healthy volunteers. Results of an experimental double-blind placebo-controlled study. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 142: 41-50 (PDF)
  • Griffiths R, Richards W, Johnson M, McCann U, Jesse R (2008) Mystical-type experiences occasioned by psilocybin mediate the attribution of personal meaning and spiritual significance 14 months later. J Psychopharmacology 22: 621-632 (PDF)
  • Griffiths RR, Richards WA, McCann U, Jesse R (2006) Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 187: 268-83; discussion 284-292 (PDF)
  • Halpern JH, Pope HG, Jr. (1999) Do hallucinogens cause residual neuropsychological toxicity? Drug Alcohol Depend 53: 247-256 (PDF)
  • Halpern JH, Sherwood AR, Passie T, Blackwell KC, Ruttenber AJ (2008) Evidence of health and safety in American members of a religion who use a hallucinogenic sacrament. Med Sci Monit 14: SR15-22 (PDF)
  • Hasler F, Grimberg U, Benz MA, Huber T, Vollenweider FX (2004) Acute psychological and physiological effects of psilocybin in healthy humans: a double-blind, placebo-controlled dose-effect study. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 172: 145-56 (PDF)
  • Johnson M, Richards W, Griffiths R (2008) Human hallucinogen research: guidelines for safety. J Psychopharmacology 22: 603-620 (PDF)
  • Krupitsky EM, Burakov AM, Dunaevsky IV, Romanova TN, Slavina TY, Grinenko AY (2007) Single versus repeated sessions of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy for people with heroin dependence. J Psychoactive Drugs 39: 13-9 (PDF)
  • Kurland AA, Grof, S., Pahnke, W. N., Goodman, L.E. (1973) Psychedelic Drug Assisted Psychotherapy. In Patients With Terminal Cancer. In: Goldberger IK, Malitz S, Kutscher AH (eds) Psychotheramacological Agents for the Terminally Ill and Bereaved 1973,. Columbia University Press, New York, NY, pp 86-133 (PDF)
  • Liechti ME, Gamma A, Vollenweider FX (2001) Gender differences in the subjective effects of MDMA. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 154: 161-168 (PDF)
  • Ludwig A, Levine J, Stark L, Lazar R (1969) A clinical study of LSD treatment in alcoholism. Am J Psychiatry 126: 59-69 (PDF)
  • Mangini M (1998) Treatment of alcoholism using psychedelic drugs: a review of the program of research. J Psychoactive Drugs 30: 381-418 (PDF)
  • Moreno FA, Wiegand CB, Taitano EK, Delgado PL (2006) Safety, tolerability and efficacy of psilocybin in 9 patients with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. J Clin Psychiatry 67: 1735-11740 (PDF)
  • Nichols DE (2004) Hallucinogens. Pharmacol Ther 101: 131-181 (PDF)
  • Passie T, Halpern JH, Stichtenoth DO, Emrich HM, Hintzen A (2008) The pharmacology of lysergic Acid diethylamide: a review. CNS Neurosci Ther 14: 295-314 (PDF)
  • Passie T, Seifert J, Schneider U, Emrich HM (2002) The pharmacology of psilocybin. Addict Biol 7: 357-64 (PDF)
  • Riba J, Rodriguez-Fornells A, Barbanoj MJ (2002) Effects of ayahuasca on sensory and sensorimotor gating in humans as measured by P50 suppression and prepulse inhibition of the startle reflex, respectively. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 165: 18-28 (PDF)
  • Sewell RA, Halpern JH, Pope HG, Jr. (2006) Response of cluster headache to psilocybin and LSD. Neurology 66: 1920-1922 (PDF)
  • Strassman RJ (1995) Hallucinogenic drugs in psychiatric research and treatment. Perspectives and prospects. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 183: 127-138 (PDF)
  • Strassman RJ, Qualls C, Berg L (1996) Differential tolerance to biological and subjective effects of four closely spaced doses of N,N-dimethyltryptamine in humans. Biological Psychiatry 39: 784-795 (PDF)
  • Vollenweider FX, Leenders KL, Scharfetter C, Maguire P, Stadelmann O, Angst J (1997) Positron emission tomography and fluorodeoxyglucose studies of metabolic hyperfrontality and psychopathology in the psilocybin model of psychosis. Neuropsychopharmacology 16: 357-372 (PDF)
  • Vollenweider FX, Csomor PA, Knappe B, Geyer MA, Quednow BB (2007) The Effects of the Preferential 5-HT2A Agonist Psilocybin on Prepulse Inhibition of Startle in Healthy Human Volunteers Depend on Interstimulus Interval. Neuropsychopharmacology 32(9):1876-1887 (PDF)

The Psychedelic Bibliography includes a larger list of published research.

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