M any people use the terms Ecstasy and MDMA interchangeably, when they are actually different drugs. Originally, ecstasy was MDMA (methylenedioxymethylamphetamine) compressed into tablets. Today, many ecstasy pills stray far from their roots of MDMA.
MDMA is the abbreviated name of methylenedioxymethylamphetamine. MDMA belongs to a class of chemicals called phenethylamines, which are monoamine alkaloids known to have stimulant and hallucinogenic properties. MDMA, however, only carries minor hallucinogenic properties, and only when taken in high doses.
MDMA is generally sold as a white crystalline powder. Sold in bags, or in pill capsules, pure MDMA is generally more difficult to obtain on the streets than ecstasy. MDMA is most often ingested orally, although it may also be insufflated. Some dealers may press their MDMA into tablets, but we will discuss that shortly!
Effects of MDMA
When ingested orally, MDMA effects begin at around 45 minutes after ingestion. As MDMA is a stimulant, many users feel nausea and/or anxiety when the substance first hits them. The MDMA effect on the user peaks at around two hours after ingestion. The effect of MDMA has caused it to be referred to as “the love drug.” Because MDMA releases serotonin in the brain, users feel generally positive feelings, both about themselves and the world around them. The user often experiences heightened physical senses, with things feeling nicer, music sounding better, and smells smelling better.
Also, MDMA increases the release of oxytocin in the brain. Oxytocin is sometimes referred to as “the love hormone.” Oxytocin a chemical that is produced naturally in the body, and causes feelings of attachment, compassion, and love. Oxytocin is released when a mother gives birth and after orgasm. It is the chemical that produces the loving, cuddly feeling created by MDMA abuse.
Ecstasy, or E or X as it is commonly referred to on the streets, was originally a condensed tablet of MDMA. However, ecstasy these days has evolved. Ecstasy commonly contains MDMA, although the main ingredient is sometimes MDA, a more psychoactive, less stimulant relative of MDMA. Furthermore, nearly all ecstasy tablets are “cut” with another substance. Ecstasy is most commonly cut with amphetamine, caffeine, and ketamine. Some pills may be cut with methamphetamine, heroin, and synthetic substances such as 2C-B, but this is far less common. Ecstasy tablets are often colorful and imprinted with a symbol of some sort.
Effects of Ecstasy
Ecstasy causes very similar effects to MDMA. However, effects of ecstasy may vary greatly depending on the substances the pills contain. Since ecstasy may contain any number of substance, ecstasy effects vary pill to pill. Many ecstasy abusers do not realize, nor have knowledge of, what they are actually ingesting. For this reason, ecstasy is extremely dangerous.
Ecstasy or MDMA?
Neither ecstasy nor MDMA are safe substances to be abusing. They are both amphetamines, and disrupt serotonin flow in the brain. Long-term MDMA and ecstasy abuse leads to depression, anxiety, and severe mood swings. If you or someone you know is dealing with an ecstasy or MDMA addiction, it would be of great benefit to receive professional help.