3,4- Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)

Image retrieved from E.M.C.D.D.A. on Feb. 2.

MDMA is more commonly referred to as ecstasy and was first manufactured in 1912 by the German pharmaceutical company Merck. It is a derivative of oil of sassafras and oil of nutmeg, and was synthesized by chemists looking for amphetamine-like drugs to help suppress appetite. Its effects are similar to those of MDA, but MDMA's are typically milder and do not last as long. In the middle of the 20th century, there was some experimental use of the drug by some psychiatrists to facilitate psychotherapy, and it was even briefly called the penicillin of the soul when it was claimed to assist in overcoming neuroses, increase self-confidence, and induce feelings of euphoria through the release of serotonin. However, there were inconsistent outcomes with the drug, and its subsequent emergence as a street drug, particularly in association with raves, has led to a restriction of its clinical use. With increasing use of ecstasy, more information has come to light regarding the drug's pharmacology and toxicology. It's primary use is to induce feelings of warmth, energy, empathy, peacefulness, and a positive vibe for several minutes to several hours, with peak effects occurring 2-4 hours after ingestion.
However, there is now evidence that chronic ecstasy use may produce brain damage in humans. It has been demonstrated to interfere with memory formation, with regular users achieving not only lower academic outcomes than non-users, but also lower scores than users of only alcohol or cannabis. Psychotherapy patients in clinical trials using the drug have reported a variety of physical side effects, including sweating, blurred vision, fluctuations in blood pressure, loss of appetite, and stiffness of their bones. Short-term effects can include, along with impaired judgement, confusion, a false sense of affection, depression, anxiety and paranoia.
... Ongoing use has also been demonstrated to cause long-lasting damage to brain areas critical for thought and memory. Ecstasy damages nerve cells that use the neurochemical serotonin to communicate in areas of the brain where conscious thought occurs. Reported fatalitiies have been attributed to the pressure the drug can produce on the heart and respiratory system, though absolute numbers remain very low and are often a result of hyperthermia and dehyradation on hot, crowded dance floors, as MDMA does not have an established lethal dosage level. People most vulnerable to the negative effects of MDMA are those with pre-existing heart disease, epilepsy, diabetes, or mental health issues.
- pp. 130-131, Substance Use and Abuse: Everything Matters by Rick Csiernik (2011)

 C11H15NO2, MDMA, 3,4- Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)