Originally posted by the New York Times
Ecstasy is known by chemists as MDMA, for 3, 4 methylene dioxymethamphetamine. It is an old drug, synthesized about 70 years ago for use as an appetite suppressant.
During the late 1980's, MDMA began to grow in popularity among college students, who discovered that the drug made them feel alert, yet relaxed. They reported feelings of warmth toward each other, but they were not hyperactive. The drug gained popularity in the 1990s rave culture, then fell into a steep decline after 2001, before beginning to creep upward in 2005 and 2006, when first-time users increased by 40 percent, a third of them under the age of 18, according to a variety of studies.
Treatment professionals say addiction to Ecstasy, a synthetic stimulant, is rare. But it can induce euphoria, hallucinations, memory loss, elevated body temperature and increased heart rate. In 2007, drug experts reported a surge in ecstasy laced with methamphetamine, also a synthetic stimulant that can reduce sexual inhibitions. Methaphetamine is highly addictive, with a half life of 8 to 12 hours, versus an hour or two for Ecstasy alone. In combination, these experts say, the dangers of each drug could be magnified.