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The Neurobiology of Ecstasy (MDMA)

2: Define ecstasy

Diagram of chemical structure of ecstasy

Ecstasy is a derivative of amphetamine (shown in purple on the image). Its chemical name is 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and it has a similar structure to methamphetamine. ecstasy has a variety of street names including, XTC, Adam, M & M, E, and essence. Explain to students that ecstasy is unlike other drugs of abuse, which are often derived from plants (e.g., cocaine, morphine, nicotine). In contrast, ecstasy is synthesized in clandestine laboratories--in fact, there are several "designer drugs" that are made (in clandestine laboratories) by altering the structure of the amphetamine molecule. Because ecstasy is synthesized in laboratories, its purity can vary substantially from lab to lab, and other compounds are easily combined into the same tablet (contaminants often include caffeine, ephedrine, ketamine - a mild hallucinogen and methamphetamine).

This page was last updated January 2007

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