What is Ecstasy? What are its effects?
Ecstasy (MDMA, X, E) is an illegal, psychoactive drug that is hallucinogenic in nature. It is used recreationally and is a major worldwide drug of abuse. Studies show that ecstasy dramatically damages nerves containing the neurotransmitter serotonin. These damages are irreversible at doses approximating those consumed by humans. Ecstasy use is correlated with long-term impairments in memory and learning. Serotonin (5-HT) regulates impulsivity and executive functions such as decision-making cognition. In fact, MDMA users have shown significantly elevated impulsivity levels in two studies. Other studies also show a decrease in adult’s ability to regulate body temperature while under the influence. In addition, many users experience a post-ecstasy depression, most likely caused by serotonin depletion.
Why do people take ecstasy?
Ecstasy users report an altered state of consciousness while under the influence that changes the way they feel and think. Most describe ecstasy as a social drug that is taken with friends for an evening out at a club, party or rave. It is not uncommon for club and rave goers to use it for its stimulating effect to help keep their energy level up while dancing for extended periods of time. Respondents describe a general enhancement of their senses, where they get caught up in the environment that often includes music, lights and crowds of people dancing, all of which are described as being intensified when on ecstasy. People enjoy being touched while under the influence of ecstasy because the experience is magnified.
In the late 1970's ecstasy was popularized by California psychotherapists who tried to use it for “empathy training” in marriage counseling. Ecstasy is still known today for enhancing feelings of empathy and love.
Combining Sex and Ecstasy
Research suggests that ecstasy can either inhibit the sexual response cycle or can be “prosexual” in certain situations. However, this can increase the risk of engaging in high-risk sexual activity. Ecstasy is often described as a bonding drug, sometimes leading to affectionate physical contact such as cuddling, hugging or touching. Ecstasy increases arousal (largely sympathetic). One study interviewed subjects who described what sex was like on ecstasy:
“Sex with ecstasy, it’s kind of like well…it’s kind of like having sex when you’re drunk. You just feel more relaxed. You feel everything’s a little more sensitive. Just like the touch or the kiss. It seems like it’s more passionate. It kind of seems like you’re in a sleazy romance novel.”
Ecstasy can also decrease people’s inhibitions. This also increases the risk of engaging in risky sexual behavior. People who have sex while on ecstasy are more likely to feel regret after having sex and having unprotected sex. This can increase the risk of unwanted pregnancies and/or contracting an STI. Chronic use of substances tends to deteriorate all stages of the sexual response cycle in both male and female abusers.
Serotonin (which is affected by ecstasy) has two opposite and positive effects on sexual function. One type of serotonin receptor has a stimulating effect on sexual function, while the other has an inhibitory sexual effect, which can lead to an inhibition of sexual function. Research shows that ecstasy causes ejaculation latency and a significant increase of the post-ejaculatory gap. A study of male rats reveals that ecstasy disrupts sexual response and also impairs sexual reward mechanisms.
Sextasy is the name used to call a combination of ecstasy and Viagra, the anti-impotency drug that works by lengthening the time span of an erection. Sextasy is well known for its stimulating effect (ecstasy) and its ability to enhance sexual ability (Viagra). There has been a dangerous trend of using sextasy due to the occurrence of heart problems and the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and Priapism. Priapism is a potentially painful medical condition, in which the erect penis or clitoris does not return to its flaccid state, despite the absence of both physical and psychological stimulation, within four hours.