CMDMA is a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. This means it has a high potential for abuse, there are currently no accepted medicinal uses in the United States and there is a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. MDMA is a synthetic chemical made in labs. The MDMA that has been seized in the U.S. is primarily manufactured in clandestine (Illegal) laboratories in Canada and the Netherlands. MDMA is then smuggled across the borders into the United States. A small number of MDMA clandestine laboratories have also been identified as operating in the U.S.
MDMA acts both as a stimulant and psychedelic and is mainly available in pill form. It produces an energizing effect, distorts time and perception as well as enhancing the enjoyment of tactile experiences. Adolescents and young adults use it to reduce inhibitions and to promote: euphoria, feelings of closeness, empathy and sexuality. Although MDMA is known among users as Ecstasy, researchers have determined that many Ecstasy tablets contain not only MDMA but also a number of other drugs or drug combinations that can be harmful, such as: methamphetamine, ketamine, cocaine, the over-the-counter cough suppressant dextromethorphan (DXM), the diet drug ephedrine and caffeine.
MDMA tablets are sold with logos, creating brand names for users to seek out. The colorful pills are often hidden among colorful candies. MDMA is also distributed in capsules, powder and liquid forms. The most popular way to consume MDMA involves swallowing tablets (50-150 mg), which are sometimes crushed and snorted. Occasionally users will smoke the crushed tablets smoked but it is rarely injected. MDMA abusers usually take MDMA by “stacking” (taking three or more tablets at once) or by “piggy-backing” (taking a series of tablets over a short period of time). This is especially dangerous because MDMA can interfere with the user’s metabolism. This can cause potentially harmful levels to be reached by repeated drug use within short intervals. MDMA is considered to be a “party drug” and is rarely used alone. A trend among adolescents is “candy flipping,” which is the co-abuse of MDMA and LSD. It is common for users to mix MDMA with other substances such as alcohol and marijuana.
MDMA mainly affects brain cells that use the chemical serotonin to communicate with each other. Serotonin helps to regulate mood, aggression, sexual activity, sleep and sensitivity to pain. Clinical studies suggest that MDMA may increase the risk of long-term, perhaps permanent, problems with memory and learning. It also causes changes in perception, including euphoria and increased sensitivity to touch, energy, sensual and sexual arousal, need to be touched and the need for stimulation.
Unwanted psychological effects of MDMA use include confusion, anxiety, depression, paranoia, sleep problems and drug cravings. All these effects usually occur within 30 to 45 minutes of swallowing the drug and usually last 4 to 6 hours, but they may occur or last weeks after ingestion. Users of MDMA experience many of the same effects and face many of the same risks as users of other stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines. These include increased motor activity, alertness, heart rate and high blood pressure. Unwanted physical effects of MDMA use include: muscle tension, tremors, involuntary teeth clenching, muscle cramps, nausea, faintness, chills, sweating and blurred vision. High doses of MDMA can interfere with the ability to regulate body temperature, resulting in a sharp increase in body temperature (hyperthermia), leading to liver, kidney and cardiovascular failure. Severe dehydration can result from the combination of the drug’s effects and the crowded and hot conditions in which the drug is often taken In addition, other drugs similar to MDMA, such as MDA or PMA, are often sold as Ecstasy, which can lead to overdose and death when the user takes additional doses to obtain the desired effect. Studies suggest chronic use of MDMA can produce damage to the serotonin system. It is ironic that a drug that is taken to increase pleasure may cause damage that reduces a person’s ability to feel pleasure.
Street names of MDMA include: Adam, Beans, Clarity, Disco Biscuit, E, Ecstasy, Eve, Go, Hug Drug, Lover’s Speed, MDMA, Peace, STP, X and XTC. No one other drug is quite like MDMA, but MDMA produces both amphetamine-like stimulation and mild mescaline-like affects.
Amphetamine was first marketed in the 1930’s as Benzedrine®, which was used in an over-the-counter inhaler to treat nasal congestion. By 1937, amphetamine was available in tablet form by prescription only and was used to treat sleep disorders, such a narcolepsy, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Eventually clandestine laboratories, which are “secret labs” and many times illegal, started producing amphetamines making the drug more widely available. Illegal lab production of the drug made it easier to acquire and abuse has increased dramatically.
Amphetamines are stimulants that speed up the body’s central nervous system which puts them in the category of “uppers”. Even today doctors still prescribe these drugs to treat narcolepsy and ADHD, and many people acquire them legally by prescription. The most common prescription amphetamines include methylphenidate (Ritalin® or Ritalin SR®), amphetamine and dextroamphetamine (Adderall®), and dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®). Amphetamines are Schedule II stimulants, which means that they have a high potential for abuse and are limited for medical use only. These pharmaceutical products are available only through a prescription that cannot be refilled.
The administration of amphetamines can differ depending on which form it comes in. Generally the pill form is taken orally and the powder form is injected intravenously. However, with the addition of “ice,” the slang name of crystallized methamphetamine hydrochloride, has promoted smoking as another mode of administration. Just as “crack” is smokable cocaine, “ice” is smokable methamphetamine. The effects of amphetamines and methamphetamine are similar to cocaine, but their onset is slower and their duration is longer. In contrast to cocaine, which is quickly removed from the brain and is almost completely metabolized, methamphetamine remains in the central nervous system longer and a larger percentage of the drug remains unchanged in the body, producing prolonged stimulant effects.
The most common physical effects of amphetamine use include increased blood pressure and pulse rates, insomnia, loss of appetite and physical exhaustion. Chronic abuse of amphetamine/methamphetamine produces a psychosis that resembles schizophrenia and is characterized by paranoia, picking at the skin, preoccupation with one’s own thoughts, auditory and visual hallucinations and erratic violent behavior. Common effects of overdose include agitation, increased body temperature, hallucinations, convulsions and even death.
Barbiturates slow down the central nervous system and were first introduced for medicinal use in the 1900’s. There are 12 different forms of barbiturates still being prescribed by doctors today. Barbiturates are categorized as Schedule II, III, and IV depressants under the Controlled Substances Act. Barbiturates are depressants that produce a wide spectrum of central nervous system depression from mild sedation to coma. They have also been used as sedatives, hypnotics, anesthetics and anticonvulsants. Common side effects are mild euphoria, lack of inhibition, relief of anxiety and sleepiness. High doses and abuse can cause lapse of memory, judgment and coordination, irritability, paranoia and suicidal ideation. Barbiturates are classified by their release time and fall into one of four categories; Ultra-short, Short, Intermediate, or Long-acting. Individuals who abuse barbiturates prefer the short-acting and intermediate drugs such as the prescribed Amytal® or Seconal®.
Barbiturates come in a variety of multicolored pills and tablets. They are generally abused by taking too many pills or injecting a liquid intravenously. Individuals abuse barbiturates to reduce anxiety, decrease inhibitions and treat the unwanted effects of illicit drugs. Tolerance develops quickly in users and increasingly larger doses are required to produce the same effect, increasing the likelihood of an overdose. This makes barbiturates extremely dangerous because overdoses can easily occur and can quickly lead to death. Common effects of overdose include shallow respiration, clammy skin, dilated pupils, weak and rapid pulse, coma and possible death.
Street names of barbiturates include: Barbs, Block Busters, Christmas Trees, Goof Balls, Pinks, Red Devils, Reds & Blues and Yellow Jackets. Drugs that cause similar effects include: alcohol, benzodiazepines like Valium® and Xanax®, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, Rohypnol® and GHB.