- Some pills sold as ecstasy actually contain little or no MDMA. Pills may contain other drugs such as PMA or another MDMA analogue, DXM, household chemicals such as Ajax or rat poison, or other (sometimes lethal) byproducts.
- The Federal penalty for manufacturing or selling ecstasy can lead to fines up to four million dollars. A ringleader or head manufacturer of ecstasy could receive life in prison.
- Memory tests of people who have taken Ecstasy as compared to non-drug users have shown that the Ecstasy users had lower scores.
- Researchers at The Johns Hopkins University demonstrated that 4 days of exposure to the drug caused damage that persisted 6 to 7 years later.
MDMA (also commonly known as Ecstasy, X, E, XTC, Adam, etc.) is a semi-synthetic chemical compound. In its pure form, it is a white crystalline powder. It usually seen in capsule form, in pressed pills, or as loose powder. Average cost ranges from $10-$30 (U.S.) a dose. Common routes of administration are swallowing or snorting, although it can be smoked or injected as well. Currently, Ecstasy is on the U.S. Schedule I of controlled substances, and is illegal to manufacture, possess, or sell in the United States. Most other countries have similar laws.
MDMA (3, 4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine), commonly referred to as Ecstasy, is a psychoactive drug possessing stimulant and hallucinogenic properties. MDMA possesses chemical variations of the stimulant amphetamine or methamphetamine and a hallucinogen, most often mescaline.
MDMA was first synthesized in 1912 by a German company possibly to be used as an appetite suppressant. Chemically, it is an analogue of MDA, a drug that was popular in the 1960s. In the late 1970s, MDMA was used to facilitate psychotherapy by a small group of therapists in the United States. Illicit use of the drug did not become popular until the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Ecstasy is taken orally, usually in tablet or capsule form, and its effects last approximately four to six hours. Users of the drug say that it produces profoundly positive feelings, empathy for others, elimination of anxiety, enhancement of the senses, and extreme relaxation. Ecstasy is also said to suppress the need to eat or sleep, enabling users to endure two- to three-day parties. Consequently, Ecstasy use sometimes results in severe dehydration or exhaustion. While it is not as addictive as heroin or cocaine, ecstasy can cause other adverse effects including nausea, hallucinations, chills, sweating, increases in body temperature, tremors, involuntary teeth clenching, muscle cramping, and blurred vision. Ecstasy users also report aftereffects of anxiety, paranoia, and depression. An ecstasy overdose is characterized by high blood pressure, faintness, panic attacks, and, in more severe cases, loss of consciousness, seizures, and a drastic rise in body temperature. Ecstasy overdoses can be fatal, as they may result in heart failure or extreme heat stroke.
Ecstasy is most often distributed at late-night parties called "raves," nightclubs, and rock concerts. As the rave and club scene expands to metropolitan and suburban areas across the country, ecstasy use and distribution are increasing as well. Ecstasy is often used in combination with other substances. Once a person begins using Ecstasy or begins frequenting events where Ecstasy is widely used, a vast array of drugs become accessible as well. Ecstasy users often seek to increase their high by combining their pill with a dose of marijuana, LSD, ketamine, GHB, amphetamines, cocaine, or heroin. This experimentation can lead to addiction.
The effects of long-term ecstasy use are just beginning to undergo scientific analysis. In 1998, the National Institute of Mental Health conducted a study of a small group of habitual ecstasy users who were abstaining from use. The study revealed that the abstinent users suffered damage to the neurons in the brain that transmit serotonin, an important biochemical involved in a variety of critical functions including learning, sleep, and integration of emotion. The results of the study indicate that recreational ecstasy users may be at risk of developing permanent brain damage that may manifest itself in depression, anxiety, memory loss, and other neuropsychotic disorders.
Clandestine laboratories operating throughout Western Europe, primarily the Netherlands and Belgium, manufacture significant quantities of the drug in tablet, capsule, or powder form. Although the vast majority of ecstasy consumed domestically is produced in Europe, a limited number of ecstasy labs operate in the United States. In addition, in recent years, Israeli organized crime syndicates, some composed of Russian émigrés associated with Russian organized crime syndicates, have forged relationships with Western European traffickers and gained control over a significant share of the European market. The Israeli syndicates are currently the primary source to U.S. distribution groups.
Overseas ecstasy trafficking organizations smuggle the drug in shipments of 10,000 or more tablets via express mail services, couriers aboard commercial airline flights, or, more recently, through air freight shipments from several major European cities to cities in the United States. The drug is sold in bulk quantity at the mid-wholesale level in the United States for approximately eight dollars per dosage unit. The retail price of ecstasy sold in clubs in the United States remains steady at twenty to thirty dollars per dosage unit. Ecstasy traffickers consistently use brand names and logos as marketing tools and to distinguish their product from that of competitors. The logos are produced to coincide with holidays or special events. Among the more popular logos are butterflies, lightning bolts, and four-leaf clovers