Ecstasy (known as MDMA) is a derivative of amphetamine that acts on several neurotransmitters. It mainly increases serotonin by causing release and blocking reuptake. In the past, it was considered a safe sensation enhancer, but now it is found to impair cognitive abilities (language tasks), cause depression, and specifically poison neurons through a process known as neurotoxicity.
MDMA is classified as a stimulant and psychedelic drug causing mild hallucinations, along with an intense euphoric, energizing feeling (Ecstasy, 2005). Users will report a powerful experience of increased happiness, sociableness, self-confidence, empathy and sensation to touch (Ecstasy, 2005). The primary effects will last up to four hours while effects beginning after are referred to as the comedown (Ecstasy Effects, 2008). This comedown is characterized by feelings of anxiety, depression, restlessness, and other negative emotions, which can last for several days post-use (Ecstasy Effects, 2008).
Short term Effects:
MDMA primarily stimulates neurons in the brain to release stored serotonin from the axon terminals and into the synaptic cleft (Sferios, 2002). Dopamine and norepinephrine are also released but to a much lesser extent than serotonin (Ecstasy, 2005). The massive chemical secretion causes the primary pleasant symptoms reported by MDMA users (Stolerman, 2010). Serotonin plays a role as an inhibitory neurotransmitter that regulates mood, aggression, sexual activity, sleep, and sensitivity to pain (Stolerman, 2010). MDMA begins by entering the serotonin axons through the reuptake transporters (having an even higher affinity for these transporters than serotonin itself) (Sferios, 2002). After release into the axon, MDMA will change the transporters conformation so that serotonin molecules bind and release into the synaptic cleft (Sferios, 2002). These two steps occur repeatedly. After causing the release of serotonin, MDMA will also bind to the reuptake...