(3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is a synthetic, psychoactive drug
chemically similar to the stimulant methamphetamine and the hallucinogen
mescaline. MDMA is an illegal drug that acts as both a stimulant and
psychedelic, producing an energizing effect, as well as distortions in
time and perception and enhanced enjoyment from tactile experiences.
Adolescents and young adults use it to promote euphoria, feelings of
closeness, empathy, sexuality and to reduce inhibitions. It is
considered a "party drug" and obtained at "rave" or "techno" parties.
However, its abuse has expanded, to include other settings outside of
the rave scenes, such as a college campus.
Although MDMA is
known universally 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 as well.
Adulterants found in MDMA tablets purchased on the street include
methamphetamine, caffeine, the over-the-counter cough suppressant
dextromethorphan, the diet drug ephedrine, and cocaine. Also, as with
many other drugs of abuse, MDMA is rarely used alone. It is not uncommon
for users to mix MDMA with other substances, such as alcohol and
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MDMA, Ecstasy, XTC,
E, X, Beans, Adams, Hug Drug, Disco Biscuit, Go
high doses, MDMA can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate
temperature. On rare but unpredictable 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 (breakdown within the
body), potentially harmful levels can be reached by repeated drug use
within short intervals.
of MDMA face many of the same risks as users of other stimulants such as
cocaine and amphetamines. These include increases in heart rate and
blood pressure, a special risk for people with circulatory problems or
heart disease, and other symptoms such as muscle tension, involuntary
teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, faintness, and chills or
Almost 60 percent of people who use MDMA report withdrawal symptoms,
including fatigue, loss of appetite, depressed feelings, and trouble
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Research in animals links MDMA exposure to long-term damage to neurons
that are involved in mood, thinking, and judgment. A study in nonhuman
primates showed that exposure to MDMA for only 4 days caused damage to
serotonin nerve terminals that was evident 6 to 7 years later. While
similar neurotoxicity has not been definitively shown in humans, the
wealth of animal research indicating MDMA’s damaging properties suggests
that MDMA is not a safe drug for human consumption.
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Seized MDMA in the U.S. is primarily manufactured in clandestine
laboratories in the Netherlands and Belgium. MDMA destined to the U.S.
from the Netherlands is transferred through Germany and Poland and
smuggled into the U.S. via body carriers, by air/sea cargo, luggage, and
by express mail. Another significant source country is Canada. Operation
Candy Box identified an international drug trafficking organization
through which up to one million MDMA tablets per month were smuggled
into the U.S. A small number of MDMA clandestine laboratories have also
been identified operating in the U.S.
DMA is available
in every region of the country, principally in large metropolitan areas.
Miami, New York, and Los Angeles the primary market areas for MDMA
smuggled into the U.S. from Western European. Florida leads the nation
in MDMA seizures. International traffickers use south Florida as a base
of operations for the importation and distribution of MDMA.
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students surveyed as part of the 2005 Monitoring the Future study, 2.8%
of eighth graders, 4.0% of tenth graders, and 5.4% of twelfth graders
reported lifetime use of MDMA. In 2004, these percentages were 2.8%,
4.3%, and 7.5%, respectively.
percent of eighth graders, 51.4% of tenth graders, and 60.1% of twelfth
graders surveyed in 2005 reported that trying MDMA once or twice was a
Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance (YRBS) study by the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) surveys high school students on several
risk factors including drug and alcohol use. Results of the 2005 survey
indicate that 6.3% of high school students reported using MDMA at some
point in their lifetimes. This is down from 11.1% in 2003.