Recently, much attention has been paid to drugs of this group, in particular MDMA, better known as Ecstasy. MDMA belongs to a group of substances known as methyl amphetamines, so named because of their chemical structure (there are many drugs in this category, but the most famous are presented in table 11-2). These drugs are often combined with serotonin hallucinogens. Indeed, their chemical structure resembles that of mescaline. In addition, they affect the transmission of serotonin (as well as norepinephrine and dopamine). DOM resembles mescalin in chemical nature and causes similar effects, including visual hallucinations. However, others (MDA, MDMA, DOET) differ from the serotonergic hallucinogens discussed above in that they do not cause or cause visual hallucinations, but not to a large extent. Laboratory studies, including experiments on animals, allowed MDA, MDMA, DOET to be classified as amphetamines and to distinguish them from LSD. This is confirmed by observations of people.
MDA, MDMA produce a slight euphoria, accompanied by openness and helplessness. These properties encourage some psychotherapists to recommend the use of these substances, in particular MDMA, as an addition to therapy. Thus, these drugs can be considered as a unique category among hallucinogens. Anyway, there are reports that these substances can damage the serotonergic neurons of the brain.
History and epidemiology
For the first time, DOM was talked about in the late 60s, when its powerful hallucinogenic effects and rather long duration of action (about 24 hours) caused many bad trips. MDA also attracted attention at about the same time, but met a warmer welcome. He was called the Soft American Drug because he had a weaker effect and less pronounced sensory effects than LSD. He was also called the Drug of Love, because his use evoked positive feelings for others, developed sympathy. The use of MDA as well as LSD decreased in the 70s, while another drug, MDMA, became popular. It is estimated that in 1976 about 10,000 doses of MDMA were sold on the street. In 1985, the DEA estimated that only 30,000 doses were sold in Texas in a month. What explains such a significant increase in consumption? The spread of information about its beneficial therapeutic effects made it attractive. His use did not disturb the public and he received the nickname “Ecstasy”. Moreover, until 1985 he remained a legal drug. Although MDA was a drug of Group N1 (see Appendix N1), MDMA, which is very similar in structure, was not classified according to this system. Thus, drug dealers preferred the least risk and began to sell ecstasy. Anyway, in the face of the growing use of MDMA, followed by animal studies proving brain damage, in 1985, MDMA was classified as a Group N1 drug. As soon as MDMA came under control, distributors started selling DOET, a very similar drug to MDMA, which is now also controlled by the DEA Act of 1986. These decisions are controversial because they prohibit further testing of MDMA and similar compounds in psychiatry.