WHAT IS ECSTASY/MDMA?
MDMA acts as both a stimulant and psychedelic, producing
an energizing effect, distortions in time and perception,
and enhanced enjoyment of tactile experiences.
Adolescents and young adults use it to reduce inhibitions
and to promote:
Euphoria, feelings of closeness, empathy, and sexuality
Although MDMA is known among users as ecstasy, researchers
have determined that many ecstasy tablets contain
not only MDMA but also a number of other drugs or drug
combinations that can be harmful, such as:
Methamphetamine, ketamine, cocaine, the over-the-counter
cough suppressant dextromethorphan (DXM), the diet drug
ephedrine, and caffeine
In addition, other drugs similar to MDMA, such as MDA
or PMA, are often sold as ecstasy, which can lead to
overdose and death when the user takes additional doses
to obtain the desired effect.
WHAT IS ITS ORIGIN?
MDMA is a synthetic chemical made in labs. Seized
MDMA in the U.S. is primarily manufactured in, and
smuggled across our borders from, clandestine laboratories
in Canada and, to a lesser extent, the Netherlands.
A small number of MDMA clandestine laboratories have
also been identified operating in the U.S.
What are common street names?
Common street names include:
Adam, Beans, Clarity, Disco Biscuit, E, Ecstasy, Eve, Go, Hug
Drug, Lover’s Speed, MDMA, Peace, STP, X, and XTC
What does it look like?
MDMA is mainly distributed in tablet form. MDMA tablets are
sold with logos, creating brand names for users to seek out. The
colorful pills are often hidden among colorful candies. MDMA is
also distributed in capsules, powder, and liquid forms.
How is it abused?
MDMA use mainly involves swallowing tablets (50-150 mg),
which are sometimes crushed and snorted, occasionally smoked
but rarely injected. MDMA is also available as a powder.
MDMA users usually take MDMA by “stacking” (taking three or
more tablets at once) or by “piggy-backing” (taking a series of
tablets over a short period of time). One trend among young adults
is “candy flipping,” which is the co-abuse of MDMA and LSD.
MDMA is considered a “party drug.” As with many other
drugs of abuse, MDMA is rarely used alone. It is common for
users to mix MDMA with other substances, such as alcohol
What is its effect on the mind?
MDMA mainly affects brain cells that use the chemical
serotonin to communicate with each other. Serotonin helps to
regulate mood, aggression, sexual activity, sleep, and sensitivity
to pain. Clinical studies suggest that MDMA may increase the
risk of long-term, perhaps permanent, problems with memory
MDMA causes changes in perception, including euphoria
and increased sensitivity to touch, energy, sensual and sexual
arousal, need to be touched, and need for stimulation.
Some unwanted psychological effects include:
Confusion, anxiety, depression, paranoia, sleep problems,
and drug craving
All these effects usually occur within 30 to 45 minutes of
swallowing the drug and usually last 4 to 6 hours, but they
may occur or last weeks after ingestion.
What is its effect on the body?
Users of MDMA experience many of the same effects and face many of the same risks as users of other stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines. These include increased motor activity, alertness, heart rate, and
Some unwanted physical effects include:
Muscle tension, tremors, involuntary teeth clenching,
muscle cramps, nausea, faintness, chills, sweating, and
High doses of MDMA can interfere with the ability to regulate
body temperature, resulting in a sharp increase in body
temperature (hyperthermia), leading to liver, kidney, and
Severe dehydration can result from the combination of the
drug’s effects and the crowded and hot conditions in which the
drug is often taken.
Studies suggest chronic use of MDMA can produce damage
to the serotonin system. It is ironic that a drug that is taken to
increase pleasure may cause damage that reduces a person’s
ability to feel pleasure.
What are its overdose effects?
In high doses, MDMA can interfere with the body’s ability to
regulate temperature. On occasions, this can lead to a sharp
increase in body temperature (hyperthermia), resulting in liver,
kidney, and cardiovascular system failure, and death.
Because MDMA can interfere with its own metabolism (that is, its
breakdown within the body), potentially harmful levels can be
reached by repeated drug use within short intervals.
Which drugs cause similar effects?
MDMA produces both amphetamine-like stimulation and mild
What is its legal status in the United States?
MDMA is a Schedule I drug under the C ontrolled Substances
Act, meaning it has a high potential for abuse, no currently
accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a
lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.
SOURCE: A DEA Resource Guide 2017 Edition