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MDMA - a Synthetic Drug

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MDMA is a synthetic drug that alters mood and perception. It was first patented in 1913 by a German chemical company called Merck. MDMA supposedly was to be sold as a diet pill, then the company decided against marketing it and did nothing else with it. Alexander Shulgin was the next person to come in contact with the drug. Shulgin after parting ways with Dow chemicals, began to prolong his research on new compounds and specializing in the phenethylamines family of drugs, which are central nervous stimulants. Some time later, since MDMA had already been patented, he got permission to sell the drug through holding its patent while justifying the drugs benefits as a medicine.

In 1985, MDMA received massive media attention when a group of people sued the US Drug Enforcement Agency to try to prevent them from outlawing the drug. A hearing was called where one side argued that MDMA caused brain damage in rats, while others claimed this might not be true for humans and that there was proof of the beneficial use of MDMA as a drug treatment in psychotherapy. Finally, the judge placed the drug on schedule 3, meaning that the drug has a potential for abuse less than the drugs in schedules 1 and 2. Today the drug is not nearly as abused as it was in the 80’s and 90’s, but there has been a spike in the usage in recent years. For example, between 2004 and 2008, emergency room visits due to problems with MDMA increased 75 percent, to more than 17,000 cases. This illegal drug is often taken for the sense of well-being, stimulation, loss of time.

Chances of coming in contact with MDMA are not as common as per se marijuana. However, it is still relevant in today. While it does stimulate and give sense of a high, it has many negative effects on the body psychologically and physiologically. After administering MDMA, blood pressure will rise and there is a chance of possible kidney failure, and in rare cases hyperthermia. MDMA is most commonly found in big group parties, e.g raves. During raves the person is constantly moving which causes an increase in body temperature. With addition of the consumption of MDMA the chances of hyperthermia increase dramatically. On the other hand, MDMA has many psychological effects. For instance, an enhanced sense of well-being, emotional warmth, and a willingness to discuss memories. This can explain why a nickname of MDMA is the “love drug”, because of the willingness to speak out and share memories.

The consumption of MDMA does a lot more than just a high, it has a much more detrimental effect on the body. Not only does MDMA affect the body, but it also affects specific parts of the brain. When MDMA is taken it automatically affects specific parts of the brain that include: Basal Ganglia, Neocortex, and the Hypothalamus. The Basal Ganglia is the part of the limbic system that is directly correlated with dopamine, which gives MDMA it’s addictive qualities. The Neocortex is the part of the brain that deals with higher order of thinking, giving MDMA users a sense of heightened perception. The Hypothalamus is the part of the brain that deals with hunger and thirst drive. This causes MDMA users to have less of an appetite. By administering MDMA, specific parts of the brain are hindered.

MDMA also has an effect on neural compensation and productivity. Researchers from the University of Liverpool conducted a study examining the effect MDMA on different parts of the brain. The team of researchers conducted an analysis of seven independent studies that used molecular imaging to examine the neuropsychological effect of MDMA on people that use the drug regularly. The studies compared MDMA users to a control group to see if MDMA use caused a cognitive deficit. The team discovered that the nerve pathway that is mainly affected is the serotonin pathway. They found that MDMA users showed significant reductions in the way serotonin is transported in the brain. This can have a particular impact on regulating appropriate emotional reactions to situations. “Furthermore the observed effects on the serotonin system inferred from the current analysis, may underpin the cognitive deficits observed in ecstasy users”. This statement concludes how MDMA effects users neural compensation and productivity. (University of Liverpool 24 Jan 18)

To conclude, MDMA is not a drug to play around with. Even though it is not nearly as common as marijuana, it is still a drug that can be detrimental to one’s health. This drug has many negative effects on the body, which can alter our blood pressure and even increase our risk of kidney failure. MDMA also has an effect on our brain and our neurological capabilities. Overall, this illicit drug is one that has many harmful side effects.

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