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Drugs of Abuse

Drug Type: MDMA

3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA); a hallucinogen with stimulant effects

Other Names:

MDMA, Ecstasy, Beans, Rolls, XTC, X, Love drug, wafers, ten-pack (refers to ten pills of MDMA) MDMA pills are given street names based on images stamped onto them by the manufacturers or because of their shapes. Examples of popular pills include double stacks (looks like one pill pressed on top of another) or domes (based on rounded, dome like appearance on both sides of pill), Adam and Eves, butterflies, doves, apples, playboys, mitsubishis, waldos, hearts, tweeties, CK’s.

What it looks like: MDMA is usually found in pill form. The pills are usually off-white, and have a speckled appearance, with a stamped image on one side. However, the pills come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors. The homemade pill can be distinguished from a pharmaceutical by its uneven, imperfect shape, speckled, impure appearance, lack of exterior coating, and tendency to crumble easily. MDMA powder-usually off-white in color, is often made by crushing pills. Capsule form (Crushed MDMA is placed into an empty capsule. Powder in place of granules in any capsule might indicate the substance is an illicit drug)

How it is used:

  • Ingested
  • Snorted

Effect of the drug: The effects are usually felt within 30 to 60 minutes of being taken and can last up to 24 hours.

  • Euphoria
  • Increased energy
  • Loss of inhibition
  • Increased vital signs-heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure go up
  • Mild hallucinations
  • Decreased appetite
  • Heightened sensitivity to touch
  • Sexual feelings

Negative Effects/Overdose Effects:

  • Jaw clenching/teeth grinding
  • Irritation
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Panic/Anxiety
  • Exhaustion/Dehydration/Heatstroke- This is very common because while under the influence of the drug the user does not realize that the body is overheating and does not drink enough water or give the body a chance to rest. MDMA users at a Rave (typically an all night party) have been known to dance for several hours, raising the body’s temperature to dangerous levels, and then collapse, suffering a heat stroke.
  • Convulsions
  • Heart Attack
  • Brain damage/mental illness
  • Death

What to look for:

  • Jaw clenching/ teeth grinding
  • Heavy perspiration
  • Dilated pupils
  • People massaging each other (this is desirable under the influence of MDMA because of the user’s heightened sensitivity to touch)
  • Eyes rolling up, showing the whites of the eyes, as if passing out, but the body continues to function.
  • Skin hot to the touch
  • Fainting/collapse

Paraphernalia Associated with Drug Use:

  • Sandwich bags/baggies (used for packaging, although a small number of pills are usually carried loose)
  • Glow-sticks or mini-flashlights. These glow in the dark and people dance with them in front of users to encourage the hallucinogenic effect of MDMA.
  • Blow-pops (lollipops)/pacifiers-These are used to protect the user from the uncontrollable urge to clench their jaw and grind their teeth while under the influence of MDMA
  • Vicks Inhaler/Vapor Rub/surgical masks-Vapor rub is rubbed on the inside of the mask. The vapors are inhaled and have an intense effect while under the influence of MDMA. The Vicks Inhaler is used similarly, eliminating the need for the mask. It is also easily concealed, and many rave clubs, bowing to public pressure are banning the wearing of surgical masks while inside the club. Also, women will hide Vapor rub inside a locket or compact to escape detection inside the club.
  • Water bottles-Often water is carried in the club because of the tendency of MDMA users to overheat. Rave partygoers are often encouraged to enlist a "buddy" to watch them and make sure they are drinking enough water.

Potential for Abuse: MDMA is the mainstay drug of the Rave culture and nightclub scene and has become very popular on high school and college campuses as well. MDMA can be made in clandestine labs, but the most desirable pills are imported from Europe. MDMA is expensive, costing between $20 to $30 per pill. The body builds tolerance and becomes addicted to MDMA, requiring the user to increase their dosage at serious risk to their health. The potency of each MDMA pill is unknown and different, creating the risk of overdose with each use. Current studies are underway to determine the effect of long-term or heavy MDMA use on the brain. MDMA is believed to cause mental illness and/or brain damage with heavy use.

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