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ABC’s of MDMA
Ecstasy. Molly. E-bomb. Or just plain ‘e’, it’s all referring to MDMA. The illegal drug was initially popular among White adolescents and young adults in the nightclub scene or at “raves”, but the drug now affects a broader range of users and ethnicities.
Consider that rapper T.I. referenced it in last year’s hit song, “Ball” and his controversial hip hop peer, Rick Ross angered women’s groups when he rapped about slipping it in a woman’s drink. And Tyga blatantly endorsed his fondness for MDMA in the song “Molly.” What once was associated with techno music and raves has found mainstream approval. That approval, however, does not necessarily translate into safer use. There are hundreds of cases of MDMA overdose and related death among young people worldwide.
MDMA can have many of the same physical effects as other stimulants like cocaine and amphetamines. These include increases in heart rate and blood pressure, which are particularly risky for people with circulatory problems or heart disease. MDMA users may experience other symptoms such as muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, faintness, and chills or sweating.
In high doses, MDMA can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate temperature. On rare but unpredictable occasions, this can lead to a sharp increase in body temperature (hyperthermia), which can result in liver, kidney, or cardiovascular system failure or even death. MDMA can interfere with its own metabolism (breakdown within the body), causing potentially harmful levels to build up in the body if it is taken repeatedly within short periods of time.
Compounding the risks of ecstasy use is the fact that other potentially harmful drugs (including synthetic cathinones, the psychoactive ingredients in “bath salts”) are sometimes sold as ecstasy. These drugs can be neurotoxic or pose other unpredictable health risks. And ecstasy tablets that do contain MDMA may contain additional substances such as ephedrine (a stimulant), dextromethorphan (a cough suppressant), ketamine, caffeine, cocaine, or methamphetamine. The combination of MDMA with one or more of these drugs may be hazardous.
If you or someone you know decides to take molly or another club drug, be safe about it. Organizations such as DanceSafe sell testing kits to identify what chemicals are present. It’s never a good idea to take illegal substances or any controlled substance not prescribed by a doctor. But there are several safety areas if you decide to take the risk.
Here are some additional MDMA safety tips:
- Don’t mix different drugs or drink alcohol while taking ecstasy.
- Avoid ecstasy if you are taking HIV medications like ritonavir.
- Stay hydrated.Get electrolytes in your system.
- Have a sober friend to stay alert.
- Avoid hot, crowded places and don’t overexert yourself.
- If someone is overheating, having a seizure or a serious reaction, get help immediately! Tell EMS which drugs were taking
Sources for this article include websites: dancesafe.org/drug-information/ecstasy; drugabuse.gov; globaldrugsurvey.com/ecstasy-warning-crew; and unodc.org/documents/scientific/NPS_2013_SMART.pdf.
This article was written and submitted by Anne Dlugosz, a summer 2013 intern at Healthyblackmen.org with Walker Tisdale.