What is MDMA?

Methylenedioxy-Methylamphetamine (MDMA) is a synthetic substance, originally developed in 1912 by the Merck chemical company. Historically the drug had very little medical use, but the future of MDMA could be different. MDMA is recreationally sold as tablets or crystals, and is often manufactured in Europe or China. The drug works through serotonin receptors, affects the central nervous system (CNS) through stimulation, and also has weak hallucinogenic properties of increased sensory awareness.

The most common result of ingesting MDMA, is a sense of euphoria, friendliness, increased empathy, happiness, pleasure, sexual arousal, and increased feeling of love. Sense of touch is also heightened, and the sounds of music can feel even more pleasurable. The experience often begins within 30-45 minutes of taking the drug, with the high normally lasting between 1.5-3 hours. It does this by affecting dopamine, and noradrenaline in addition to the serotonin receptors.

Pure MDMA in small doses generally doesn’t have very negative effects for more people, but during the height of the feelings, jaw clenching and teeth grinding is normal. There is a ‘come down’ period that leads to decreased levels of serotonin after the high, often a feeling of sadness, and exhaustion. Users often report insomnia, and increased body temperature, requiring increased hydration.

MDMA is listed in Schedule I of the United Nations 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Originally, MDMA once found limited use in psychiatric counselling, but its therapeutic use was stopped. However, like many other schedule I drugs, it’s currently being tested for medical uses for PTSD and anxiety.

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