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Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)

(Ecstasy)

By

Gerald F. O’Malley

, DO, Grand Strand Regional Medical Center;


Rika O’Malley

, MD, Albert Einstein Medical Center

Last full review/revision May 2020| Content last modified May 2020
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MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is an amphetamine analog with stimulant and hallucinogenic effects.

MDMA acts primarily on neurons that produce and release serotonin, but it also affects dopaminergic neurons. MDMA is usually taken as a pill; effects begin 30 to 60 minutes after ingestion and typically last 4 to 6 hours. MDMA is often used at dance clubs, concerts, and rave parties. (See also Amphetamines Amphetamines Amphetamines are sympathomimetic drugs with central nervous system stimulant and euphoriant properties whose toxic adverse effects include delirium, hypertension, seizures, and hyperthermia... read more .)

Symptoms and Signs

MDMA causes a state of excitement and disinhibition and accentuates physical sensation, empathy, and feelings of interpersonal closeness. Toxic effects are similar to those of the other amphetamines but are less common, perhaps because use is more likely to be intermittent. However, even with casual use, significant problems such as hyperthermia and centrally mediated hyponatremia Hyponatremia Hyponatremia is decrease in serum sodium concentration 136 mEq/L ( 136 mmol/L) caused by an excess of water relative to solute. Common causes include diuretic use, diarrhea, heart failure, liver... read more may occur. The effects of intermittent, occasional use are uncertain. Rarely, fulminant hepatic failure Acute Liver Failure Acute liver failure is caused most often by drugs and hepatitis viruses. Cardinal manifestations are jaundice, coagulopathy, and encephalopathy. Diagnosis is clinical. Treatment is mainly supportive... read more occurs.

Chronic, repeated use may cause problems similar to those of amphetamines, including dependence. Some users develop paranoid psychosis. Cognitive decline may also occur with repeated, frequent use.

Diagnosis

  • Clinical evaluation

MDMA may not be detected by routine urine immunoassay drug screens.

Treatment

  • Symptomatic treatment for acute toxicities and dependency

More Information

  • Findtreatment.gov: Listing of licensed US providers of treatment for substance use disorders

Drugs Mentioned In This Article

Drug Name Select Trade
ADDERALL XR 10
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