Ecstasy Essay, Research Paper
The music vibrates throughout your body. Everything you perceive or imagine pulsates in unison to form the collective conscience. Every thought, feeling, and your existence as a whole become euphoric and connected. You love and understand everything as never before. Why does this have to end after a few hours? Why can it not be real? This is your body on MDMA (Ecstasy).
Also known as Adam, E, and the love drug, Ecstasy has almost become synonymous with thoughts of druggie teenagers dancing at all-night raves (thank you media). Almost everyone has seen an ecstasy report in the news or born witness to the latest dateline episode on how Ecstasy is becoming the newest destructive trend amongst teenagers. With all the defective information traversing cyberspace, the newspapers, television, and virtually any other medium by which one can learn about issues such as Ecstasy, it is difficult to decipher what is true.
Simply spoken, when Ecstasy (pure MDMA) is ingested for the first time, it will astonish the user and make them euphoric for a few hours. Afterwards, many people claim to become temporarily depressed. When taken in large enough dosages it becomes neurotoxic (meaning that it kills neurons). In addition, we know that we do NOT know much about Ecstasy; however, there are many contradicting theories spoken as fact.
MDMA was first synthesized and patented by Merck pharmaceuticals in 1912 and patented in 1914, but it wasn’t until the mid 1970s that articles related to its psychoactivity began showing up in scholarly journals. In the late ’70s and early ’80s MDMA was used as a psychotherapeutic tool and started to become available on the street. Its growing popularity led to it being made illegal in the United States in 1985 and its popularity has continued to increase since then.
Today users can easily purchase MDMA on the streets in rarely pure forms sold at extremely high prices ($20 – $40 for roughly 200mg). What interests me is that it appears there have developed four dominant opinions regarding MDMA. First, that it is a drug that can make for a fun night out. Second, that it is a sacred drug that one should only use to better understand themselves and better live in the real world. Third, that it should not be open to public access, however clinically trained psychotherapists should be able to use it as a therapeutic in treating such problems as post-traumatic stress disorder. Fourth, and currently the Government-held position, that it should be Schedule I (it has no currently accepted medical use, it has a high potential for abuse, and that its use cannot be safely supervised). Each view may be based, in part, by someone s level of interaction with the drug.
Those who have done many drugs are more likely to hold the first view. People who have taken Ecstasy and not many other drugs are more likely to hold the second view. Liberal Psychopharmacologists, psychiatrists, and others who have researched the brain and medicine are more likely to hold the third view. Lastly, the fourth view seems to be held by the general, lay person, in line with the Government, because they have heard only what the media portrays to be true, much of which is Government regulated.
Experimenters describe the effects of Ecstasy as a connecting of one’s self with the world. They say that Ecstasy is about understanding everyone and everything else. It allows you to feel and to see for the first time. Often they say that they love everything. Many people argue against this by saying the love you feel while on Ecstasy is not real. This love is false because it is drug-induced. Therefore, because false love only confuses one as to what real love means, the Ecstasy-love is not good.
What provokes fear for most people is the notion that Ecstasy causes depression. The problem is that to understand why Ecstasy can cause depression, one must speak in mildly technical terms. In lay terms, it creates a chemical imbalance. To be more specific we delve into theory.
The theory is that when someone takes Ecstasy, it reacts with parts of the brain (serotonin axon reuptake transporters) that in effect flood your brain (the synapses) with chemicals (neurotransmitters). Those chemicals effect your mood (serotonin and dopamine) and because of their now excess presence, the user becomes euphoric. Many people claim then, to see and feel music, or even experience an uniting with it. They claim touch is often sensationalized and visual perception increased. After a few hours of serotonin flooding however, your brain becomes depleted of serotonin and must begin refueling. This refueling process can take several weeks. During those weeks the person will, instead of having too much of a chemical, have too little, and then instead of experiencing euphoria, experience varying levels of depression and paranoia.
The reason for the long-term depression reported in some cases is an entirely different and newly discovered matter that may invoke even more fear than the possibility of short-term depression. Long-term depression may result from Ecstasy use because of neurotoxicity (neuron death). In the case of Ecstasy, serotonin (happy chemical) containing neurons are destroyed. There then exists a permanent, serotonin depletion; similar to the depletion encountered in the post-Ecstasy weeks. The leading theory on what causes Ecstasy neurotoxicity is that once the brain is depleted of serotonin. Dopamine (another neurotransmitter) passes into the SEROTONIN storage location (axon) of the neuron via doors (reuptake transporters) that typically carry only serotonin into the axon. Once inside the serotonin axon, the dopamine reacts with MAO (monoamine oxidase) to create hydrogen peroxide! Needless to say, hydrogen peroxide situated inside a nerve cell is NOT a good thing. It causes the neuron to shrivel up and die, to never be replaced. In the end, the person is left with less serotonin, an uncorrectable chemical imbalance and long-term depression. The big question resulting from this, the unanswered question, is how much Ecstasy does it take in order to kill neurons? No one knows (in rats scientists believe it is one does of 40mg/kg body weight).
Will Ecstasy become the drug of the new generation? Probably not, but that does not mean its use will not grow. It is more likely to become a drug used rarely, and by many in the drug circle, than to become the replacement for whatever drug is currently most popular. For those who think Ecstasy is a fun recreational drug: remember it often contains other, more harmful substances (PMA sold as MDMA has killed several) and MDMA itself has been proven to have negative effects on mental stability. For those who think Ecstasy is evil because a dose great enough can be neurotoxic: remember it is possible to overdose and die on Tylenol.