Medline ® Abstracts for References 3,4
of 'MDMA (ecstasy) intoxication'
Ecstasy: America's new "reefer madness".
J Psychoactive Drugs. 2002;34(2):137.
MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) was first used as a legal adjunct to psychotherapy in the 1970s. By the early 1980s, "Ecstasy" had become a tiny part of the recreational American drug scene, and was ultimately criminalized in 1986. For a decade use continued, but remained quiet. By the end of the 1990s, increased supply, demand, seizures of pills, arrests of distributors associated with organized crime, adverse reactions, and government reports of problematic brain changes created an Ecstasy media frenzy. The government's reaction led to a public education campaign and proposals for exponential penalties for production, distribution and use of MDMA. This article looks at the history, epidemiology, and politics of Ecstasy, the media's response, and the ways in which media and government reaction will compromise harm reduction and safety.
San Francisco Office of the Drug Policy Alliance, San Francisco, California 94123, USA.
The pharmacology and toxicology of "ecstasy" (MDMA) and related drugs.
"Ecstasy" (MDMA) and related drugs are amphetamine derivatives that also have some of the pharmacological properties of mescaline. They have become popular with participants in "raves," because they enhance energy, endurance, sociability and sexual arousal. This vogue among teenagers and young adults, together with the widespread belief that "ecstasy" is a safe drug, has led to a thriving illicit traffic in it. But these drugs also have serious toxic effects, both acute and chronic, that resemble those previously seen with other amphetamines and are caused by an excess of the same sympathomimetic actions for which the drugs are valued by the users. Neurotoxicity to the serotonergic system in the brain can also cause permanent physical and psychiatric problems. A detailed review of the literature has revealed over 87 "ecstasy"-related fatalities, caused by hyperpyrexia, rhabdomyolysis, intravascular coagulopathy, hepatic necrosis, cardiac arrhythmias, cerebrovascular accidents, and drug-related accidents or suicide. The toxic or even fatal dose range overlaps the range of recreational dosage. The available evidence does not yet permit an accurate assessment of the size of the problem presented by the use of these drugs.
Department of Pharmacology, University of Toronto, Addiction Research Foundation Division, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ont. firstname.lastname@example.org