The substance MDMA, or ecstasy, is an amphetamine derivative that has gained popularity in recent years and has become the recreational drug of choice for many adolescents and young adults. Ecstasy has addictive psychoactive properties, and its abuse has led to an alarming increase in emergency department visits.
At the root of ecstasy’s widespread popularity, is the mistaken belief that it is safe. Individuals who take ecstasy experience a sense of euphoria, loss of inhibition, a feeling of closeness and/or empathy, and increased sensuality.
Raves occur in dance halls and clubs, where young adults ingest tablets of ecstasy and dance all night to electronic music and laser lights. People gather by the thousands and dance for many hours in hot crowded venues or clubs. Users of ecstasy at these all night parties usually arrive at the emergency room complaining of symptoms of dehydration and hyperthermia. While most improve with supportive treatment alone, some experience seizures and heart problems.
Most ecstasy-related fatalities have been attributed to heat stroke and hyperthermia, which results from Increased body temperatures with vigorous dancing in crowded hot clubs which cause dehydration and acute renal failure. Ecstasy users are informed at raves to keep adequate hydration and take cooling measures as needed, but this is not always the case resulting in the symptoms mentioned above.