“Ecstasy”s the street name methylenedioxymethamphetamine.
In recent years this substance has become extremely popular, so popular infact as to increase the number of users to the tens of millions in europe.
In drugs terms MDMA is located halfway between the compounds stimulants and hallucinogens as it has a primary influence on communicative and emotional states, “revealing” the psyche of the individual and tapping into hidden places.
For these reasons ,MDMA was first used in medicine for psychoanalitic therapy.
Mechanism of Action
Serotonin is an endogenous substance that act as a neurotransmitter (i.e carrying nerve impulses to the brain) and who has control functionson mood , emotions, aggression, appetite, sleep, anxiety, memory, perception, etc.
Ecstasy acts by increasing the presence of serotonin at synatic terminals, and consequently, the increase of this substance in various brain areas varied psychological effects:strong feeling of well being, increased confidence with others, the removal of communicative and emotional barriers, felling of elation, a greater ability to sense rythum and music.
For these reasons , ecstasy and drugs similar to it are called “entactogenic” or “empathogenic” ( that promote empathy, the ability to empathize with the thoughts and the states of minds of other people.
Effects and Collateral Effects
Ecstasy is usually considered to be a harmless drug, probably due in part to the aspect of it when sold: brightly colored tablets with funny logos. In addition many people believe that a substance you eat is less dangerous than one you inject.
The high arrives 30-60 minutes after taking, initially it appears with a sense of unease, shortness of breath, fear and then you let go, it begins: incremental increase in interpersonal relationships, alertness and physical endurance.
Ecstasy is often taken in combination with other substances such as LSD, cocaine, amphetamines and alcohol.
Combining with other stimulant drugs tends to increase the tension and increase the effects. LSD makes the hallucinagenic effects easier to bear. Alcohol decreases the effects, but on the other hand, increases the dehydration. Cannabis is generally used to ease the “coming down”.
Dependance on these types of drugs is exclusively psychological (despite occasional situations where migraines and depression are caused by the absense of such a substance).
One of the most serious dangers, which especially distinguishes this type of drug from other classes, is its extremely high neurotoxicity.
Extensive studies on animals and subsequently on human volunteers have shown the irreverable degeneration of serotonin producing neurons that infact “burn out”. In the cases where the burned out cells regenerate , it was noted that these neurons where “mutated” or inactive.
Dopamine and Serotonin
Some parties contend that carried out until now on ecstasy, have revealed only deleterious affects on serotonin, which, despite being a brain modulator, seems to have effects on this affective sphere of the individual and not on the phiysical or pathalogical.
In september 2002 appeared, in the Journal Science, one of the most prestigious scientific journals in the world, a new article of the stoudy group of Dr. Ricaurte, where studies on primates (baboons) show that the same behaviour seen with serotonin , holds true also for dopamine.
Being that dopamine is implicated inall the functions of “mobility” of the human organism, then the neurotoxicity of dopamine,from ecstasy and substances similar, suggests that the users of these types of dugs have an increased vulnerability to motory disorders.
In other words , there are reasonable grounds to believe that in the long term, the use of ecstasy can lead not only to neuropsychiatric disorders related to the depletion of serotonin, but also those related to the depletion of dopamine such as, Parkinsons.
In addition to the above neuropsychiatric damage as a result of taking ecstasy, there have been repeatedly reported cases often fatal, related to paranoid psychosis, cardiovascular collapse, cerebral hemorage and heart attack. Among consumers of a long time period, it was noted the development of liver damage and often fatal hypothermia.