What Is MDMA?

MDMA is Becoming Increasingly Popular

MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is a common club drug that originally gained popularity at late-night clubs and raves thanks to the fact that it shares properties with both stimulants and hallucinogens. While its popularity may have been born on the dance floor at all-night parties, it has since gone mainstream and has a much wider variety of users today. In this overview, we will discuss a brief history of MDMA, what MDMA is and what it does, its side effects, and other important information about this DEA Schedule I drug.

The Historical Background of MDMA

While some may think that MDMA is a newer drug, it was actually first synthesized and patented in 1913, supposedly as a weight-loss drug (though the patent actually makes no mention of any specific use).

There have been rumors that the US government tested MDMA for use by the armed forces in the early 1950s, but these are largely unfounded. In fact, because the drug was already patented, most drug and chemical companies had no interest in studying it because this patent meant it couldn’t make them any money.

Most of the modern research on MDMA actually comes from Alexander Shulgin, a biochemist who tested numerous soon-to-be popular street drugs in search of the perfect therapeutic drug. While Shulgin saw a lot of potential for MDMA, because it acts as both a stimulant and a hallucinogen, it is potentially very dangerous, especially if used regularly.

In 1985, citing a threat to public health, the DEA placed MDMA on the list of Schedule I drugs that have no accepted medical use and have a high risk for addiction and abuse. Since then, the FDA has approved some human testing with MDMA, but it remains a Schedule I substance.

Details – What Is MDMA?

So what exactly is MDMA, and how does it work? Part hallucinogen, part stimulant, MDMA is a synthetic drug that chemically boosts energy levels while flooding the user’s brain with dopamine. It effectively alters the user’s perception of reality and time for a few hours.

In most cases, users will take MDMA in pill form, but it can also be snorted. When swallowed, it has a slower release and will generally give a longer-lasting high. When snorted, it may have a shorter high, but the drug will be absorbed into the bloodstream and carried to the brain much faster.

Street Names for MDMA

MDMA has a number of street names that are far more commonly used than methylenedioxymethamphetamine. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Ecstasy
  • Molly
  • Clarity
  • Peace
  • Uppers
  • Lovers’ Speed
  • Eve
  • Adam
  • Scooby Snacks
  • Skittles
  • Disco Biscuits
  • Candy
  • E
  • X
  • XTC
  • Beans
  • Egg rolls

Side Effects of Using MDMA

The body does not have an unlimited supply of dopamine, norepinephrine, or serotonin. So, while MDMA will flood the user’s brain with these chemicals, giving them a significant high, coming down from the drug when the body is depleted of these chemicals can include a number of side effects, including:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Depression
  • Chills
  • Teeth grinding or clenching
  • Sore jaw and/or teeth
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Sweating

For up to a week after taking a dose of MDMA, users generally experience some or all of these symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Problems with sleep
  • Increased anxiety
  • Problems with memory and/or attention
  • Irritability
  • Decreased appetite
  • Decreased libido

What Does the High From MDMA Feel Like?

Most users report a feeling if euphoria combined with boosted energy levels. For three to six hours, users will see brighter colors, be more sensitive to sound and touch, and will generally have a warm and glowing feeling while having the energy to stay awake and alert throughout it all. After the drug wears off, though, the symptoms and side effects become more and more apparent.

  • Answered by:
  • Published: 09/27/2016
  • Updated: 03/14/2023
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