Methamphetamine vs MDMA
Methamphetamine (contracted from N-methylamphetamine) is a potent central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that is mainly used as a recreational drug and less commonly as a second-line treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and obesity. Methamphetamine was discovered in 1893 and exists as two enantiomers: levo-methamphetamine and dextro-methamphetamine. Methamphetamine properly refers to a specific chemical substance, the racemic free base, which is an equal mixture of levomethamphetamine and dextromethamphetamine in their pure amine forms. It is rarely prescribed over concerns involving human neurotoxicity and potential for recreational use as an aphrodisiac and euphoriant, among other concerns, as well as the availability of safer substitute drugs with comparable treatment efficacy such as Adderall and Vyvanse. Dextromethamphetamine is a stronger CNS stimulant than levomethamphetamine.
Both racemic methamphetamine and dextromethamphetamine are illicitly trafficked and sold owing to their potential for recreational use. The highest prevalence of illegal methamphetamine use occurs in parts of Asia and Oceania, and in the United States, where racemic methamphetamine and dextromethamphetamine are classified as schedule II controlled substances. Levomethamphetamine is available as an over-the-counter (OTC) drug for use as an inhaled nasal decongestant in the United States. Internationally, the production, distribution, sale, and possession of methamphetamine is restricted or banned in many countries, due to its placement in schedule II of the United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances treaty. While dextromethamphetamine is a more potent drug, racemic methamphetamine is illicitly produced more often due to the relative ease of synthesis and regulatory limits of chemical precursor availability.
In low to moderate doses, methamphetamine can elevate mood, increase alertness, concentration and energy in fatigued individuals, reduce appetite, and promote weight loss. At very high doses, it can induce psychosis, breakdown of skeletal muscle, seizures and bleeding in the brain. Chronic high-dose use can precipitate unpredictable and rapid mood swings, stimulant psychosis (e.g., paranoia, hallucinations, delirium, and delusions) and violent behavior. Recreationally, methamphetamine’s ability to increase energy has been reported to lift mood and increase sexual desire to such an extent that users are able to engage in sexual activity continuously for several days while binging the drug. Methamphetamine is known to possess a high addiction liability (i.e., a high likelihood that long-term or high dose use will lead to compulsive drug use) and high dependence liability (i.e. a high likelihood that withdrawal symptoms will occur when methamphetamine use ceases). Withdrawal from methamphetamine after heavy use may lead to a post-acute-withdrawal syndrome, which can persist for months beyond the typical withdrawal period. Methamphetamine is neurotoxic to human midbrain dopaminergic neurons at high doses. Methamphetamine has been shown to have a higher affinity and, as a result, higher toxicity toward serotonergic neurons than amphetamine. Methamphetamine neurotoxicity causes adverse changes in brain structure and function, such as reductions in grey matter volume in several brain regions, as well as adverse changes in markers of metabolic integrity.
Methamphetamine belongs to the substituted phenethylamine and substituted amphetamine chemical classes. It is related to the other dimethylphenethylamines as a positional isomer of these compounds, which share the common chemical formula C10H15N.
MDMA vs Methamphetamine
3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), commonly seen in tablet form (ecstasy) and crystal form (molly or mandy), is a potent central nervous system (CNS) stimulant primarily used for recreational purposes. The desired effects include altered sensations, increased energy, empathy, and pleasure. When taken by mouth, effects begin in 30 to 45 minutes and last 3 to 6 hours.
MDMA was first developed in 1912 by Merck. It was used to enhance psychotherapy beginning in the 1970s and became popular as a street drug in the 1980s. MDMA is commonly associated with dance parties, raves, and electronic dance music. It may be mixed with other substances such as ephedrine, amphetamine, and methamphetamine. In 2016, about 21 million people between the ages of 15 and 64 used ecstasy (0.3% of the world population). This was broadly similar to the percentage of people who use cocaine or amphetamines, but lower than for cannabis or opioids. In the United States, as of 2017, about 7% of people have used MDMA at some point in their lives and 0.9% have used it in the last year.
Short-term adverse effects include grinding of the teeth, blurred vision, sweating and a rapid heartbeat, and extended use can also lead to addiction, memory problems, paranoia and difficulty sleeping. Deaths have been reported due to increased body temperature and dehydration. Following use, people often feel depressed and tired. MDMA acts primarily by increasing the activity of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline in parts of the brain. It belongs to the substituted amphetamine classes of drugs and has stimulant and hallucinogenic effects.
MDMA is illegal in most countries and has limited approved
medical uses in a small number of countries. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration is currently evaluating the drug for clinical use. Canada has allowed limited distribution of MDMA and other psychedelics such as psilocybin upon application to and approval by Health Canada.
Overdose effects of Methamphetamine and MDMA
According to the most recent data, about 119,,000 people are treated for problems related to ecstasy and MDMA in emergency rooms in the United States alone. Furthermore, one study found that in 2019, there were 19,458 deaths from psychostimulants including MDMA.
But the answer to the question, “Can you overdose on ecstasy?” is not entirely straightforward. While it is possible to die as a result of ecstasy use, deaths from this drug are not necessarily a direct result of taking too much, but rather due to the side effects. And when mixing Methamphetamine and MDMA these side effects may be enhanced rapidly and exponentially.
According to medical experts, direct deaths from MDMA and Ecstasy use are usually down to overheating. The MDMA interferes with the body’s ability to regulate temperature and Methamphetamine interferes with this process even further. When people are then in warm environments or dancing, the risk of overheating is higher. The medical term for this is hyperthermia, and with hyperthermia people are at increased isk of:
- Swelling of the brain
- Muscle breakdown
- Electrolyte imbalances
- Organ failure
Methamphetamine and MDMA Emergencies
Many ecstasy “overdoses” are a direct result of additives in the pills themselves, such as Fentanly that we discussed earlier. When MDMA users arrive at a hospital or rehab center physicians and staff will not immediately know what per cent of the pills they’ve ingested was MDMA as opposed to other additives, or indeed what other substances (legal or illegal) have been ingested i.e. Methamphetamine and MDMA. This requires blood toxicology examinations and while the results are being waited on, medical professionals will do their best to treat dehydration and overheating1.
Once a patient is stabilized, there is a good chance of a full recovery. That being said, some cases of ecstasy overdose can be fatal, especially when Fentanyl and other highly dangerous cutting agents have been used.
If you have been using MDMA and ecstasy and find that it is difficult to stop, it is likely time to reach out for assistance. Don’t risk an overdose emergency or developing a chronic addiction.
If you take Methamphetamine, and also drink Alcohol or MDMA, you can research the effects of Methamphetamine and Alcohol as well as Methamphetamine and weed and Methamphetamine and Cocaine here.
To find the effects of other drugs and weed refer to our Weed and Other Drugs Index A to L or our Weed and Other Drugs Index M-Z.
Or you could find what you are looking for in our Alcohol and Other Drugs index A to L or Alcohol and Other Drugs index M to Z or our MDMA and Other Drugs Index A to L or MDMA and Other Drugs Index M to Z. or Cocaine and Other Drugs Index A to L or Cocaine and Other Drugs Index M to Z.
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If you are looking stop using either MDMA or Methamphetamine, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. MDMA withdrawal can be researched here and Methamphetamine withdrawal can be found on our Withdrawal index.
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