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MDMA molecular structure

MDMA stands for Methylenedioxymethamphetamine and is the definitive pyongogen. Its effects were described as "Joy going at a thousand miles an hour". MDMA is available to buy on the 'black market' in whitish powder-like crystalline form or in the form of a pill with a street name of 'ecstasy'. MDMA is prohibited by law because it makes people listen to really bad music.

Ecstasy tablets with smiley
facesMDMA was synthesised in the mid 20th century by The Army Chemical Center in the United States. They tested the chemical on guinea pigs and other animals, which meant that the empathogenic and entactogenic effects of the substance were not noticed. This was probably a fortunate occurence, as MDMA would more than likely be used to exploit people in interrogation circumstances, making them more open, impressionable and willing to divulge personal information.

The next occurence of MDMA synthesis was carried out by legend and psychedelic chemist Alexander Shulgin in

  1. Over the space of about ten years, MDMA was being produced in 'underground' batches and by the late 1970's it is reasonably available on the streets as a recreational drug.

How to take ecstasy safely

Very, very few deaths have taken place from people taking MDMA at reasonable doses. Deaths associated with ecstasy occur from one of the following causes: idiotic overdosing, contaminants, pre-existing conditions, dehydration, overheating or interactions with other drugs. The DEA's list of ecstasy-related deaths confirms this. Research implicating MDMA in Parkinson's was gravely flawed and has been retracted 1. The theory that MDMA damages dopamine receptors in the brain or causes Parkinson's is not borne out by research. 2 3 Damage to the serotonin system is more realistic a concern. this is blocked by Prozac (see below).

Don't take ecstasy if you have heart trouble or high blood pressure

Keep cool and drink plenty of water. On the other hand, there have been deaths from compulsively drinking too much water on ecstasy, so use common sense.

Be sensible with doses. You should take more than 250mg. If you need to take more than that to get an effect, you're taking ecstasy too often.

MAOi antidepressants, taken with ecstasy , are likely to lead to serotonin syndrome, which can be fatal. SSRI antidepressants tend to block out the effects of ecstasy. Nardil (phenelzine), Parnate (tranylcypromine), Marplan (isocarboxazid), Eldepryl (l-deprenyl), Aurorix / Manerix (moclobemide) and the protease inhibitor Ritonavir are all contraindicated for ecstasy users. Taking any other drugs that affect heart rate, such as cocaine, speed or opiates in conjunction with ecstasy is dangerous. Taking ecstasy with psychedelics like 'shrooms, LSD or mescaline, however, is cool and kickass.

There are dangerous contaminants in street pills such as ketamine and paramethoxyamphetamine (PMA). PMA elevates body temperature more than MDMA. A dose of PMA is 50-80mg 4 while a dose of MDMA is usually about 120mg. So mistaking PMA for ecstasy can lead to fatal overdose. Ecstasy testing kits are available online.

A few unfortunates do have adverse reactions to MDMA (such as Morgan Jones, who died from MDMA in San Francisco in 1995). So, yes, ecstasy can be deadly, but only in the same way that peanuts can be deadly.

It is highly recommended that you take Prozac after you come down from ecstasy. This completely blocks toxicity 56, normalizes serotonin levels, prevents comedowns and 'scagging' and stops you from taking ecstasy too often, as ecstasy won't really work for a day or two after you take Prozac.

[ Case study of a man who took 40,000 pills over 10 years]. He was on 25 pills a day for 4 years, and after stopping didn't come down for months. "He eventually developed severe panic attacks, recurrent anxiety, depression, muscle rigidity (particularly at the neck and jaw levels), functional hallucinations, and paranoid ideation". He wound up with very bad memory and concentration. Interesting story.

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