Knoxville, TN (PressExposure) July 27, 2009 -- Ecstasy, scientifically known as 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA, is a semisynthetic member of the amphetamine class of psychoactive drugs. Before, MDMA (marketed as Empathy) was used to aid psychotherapy, often couples therapy, and to help treat clinical depression, the results of which are poorly documented. Studies have also recently been initiated to examine the therapeutic potential of MDMA for post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety associated with cancer. Today, MDMA or ecstacy is now known for its recreational and illicit use.
According to several teenage treatment centers, MDMA is criminalized in most countries in the world under a UN agreement. Its possession, manufacture, or sale may result in criminal prosecution, although some limited exceptions exist for scientific and medical research. MDMA is one of the most widely used illicit drugs in the world and is taken in a variety of contexts far removed from its roots in psychotherapeutic settings. Aside from its illicit use, however, ecstasy or MDMA is also known to cause the majority of drug addiction related deaths across the world.
Acute Fatal Effects
Most fatalities due to MDMA use occur when MDMA is used in combination with other medicinal drugs like Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOI), the main ingredients in many antidepressants. In some cases, serious adverse events in MDMA users may be an interaction of the drug with a preexisting medical condition. According to a number of teenage treatment centers, risk of adverse event after MDMA consumption is thought to be increased by preexisting cardiovascular problems, such as cardiomyopathy, hypertension, viral myocarditis, and congenital cardiac conduction abnormalities.
Chronic use of ecstasy or MDMA may involve a number of lethal side effects. These include:
An important cause of death following MDMA use is hyponatremia, low blood sodium levels as a result of drinking too much water.Although many cases of this clearly involved individuals drinking large amounts of water, there are cases where there is no evidence of excessive water consumption. Their cases may be caused by MDMA inducing release of the antidiuretic hormone vasopressin by the pituitary gland. According to teenage treatment centers, the action of vasopressin on the renal tubules leads to the retention of water, resulting in users producing less urine. (This is unrelated to having difficulty passing urine, a phenomenon known colloquially as E-wee).
The second most important cause of death from MDMA use is hyperthermia, core body temperature rising too high until the major organs shut down at about 42Â°C. This is a bit more problematic than blood salt imbalance, harder to treat and to avoid. Ecstasy-related hyperthermia may occur as a symptom of serotonin syndrome, which is where too much serotonin is released into the brain. This can occur with MDMA if too much 5HTP or other serotonergic drugs are consumed together.