USE OF ECSTASY BAD NEWS
MDMA (Methylenedioxymethamphetamine), also known as ecstasy, is a synthetic drug with both stimulant and hallucinogenic qualities.
The drug became popular in the rave scene of the 1990s and has found its way into our high schools in the new millennium at an alarming rate.
Known as the "hug drug" or "feel good" drug, it reduces inhibitions, eliminates anxiety, and produces feelings of empathy for others. Because of these good feelings, youth were led to believe that this drug was safe and non-addictive.
As you read on you will soon learn that this is simply not true. In addition to chemical stimulation, the drug reportedly suppresses the need to eat, drink or sleep.
Controlled studies in humans have shown that MDMA has potent effects on the cardiovascular system on the body's ability to regulate its internal temperature.
Of great concern is MDMA's adverse effect on the pumping efficiency of the heart.
Increased physical activity increases heart rate significantly, but the heart does not respond in a normal manner. Since MDMA use is often associated to dancing all night the effects on the heart could increase the risk of heart damage in susceptible individuals.
MDMA in its true form works in the brain by increasing the activity levels of at least three neurotransmitters (the chemical messengers of brain
cells): serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
MDMA causes these neurotransmitters to be released from their storage sites in neurons resulting in increased brain activity. MDMA causes a release of mass quantities of serotonin and a lesser amount of dopamine.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in the regulation of mood, sleep, pain, emotion, appetite and other behaviors. By releasing large amounts of serotonin and also interfering with its synthesis, MDMA causes the brain to become significantly depleted of this important neurotransmitter.
As a result, it takes the human brain time to rebuild its serotonin levels.
The depletion of serotonin may be long-term and these persistent deficits in serotonin are likely responsible for many of the behavioral effects that the user experiences.
There is a growing body of evidence that associates this serotonin loss in heavy MDMA users to confusion, depression, sleep problems, persistent elevation of anxiety, aggressive and impulsive behavior and selective impairment of some working memory and attention processes.
Real ecstasy doesn't come from alcohol or drugs - Get high on life.
Next week: Learn about the tablets being sold on streets as ecstasy are not what they appear.
* Const. Beth Blackburn is the drug awareness coordinator for central Vancouver Island.