The reason for this report is to outline and explain the effects that 3,4-methylenedioxyphenethylamine (MDMA) has on the brain and therefore the effect it has on the user’s mental health. The drug MDMA is a very highly used party drug that ruins users’ mental health to a severe extent. MDMA creates larger distribution levels of serotonin and also a lesser release of dopamine. Some of the problems that this might cause are users mood, sleep and appetite can be severely affected. All of these can lead to depression. Depression is already a big problem in today’s society and anything that increases this problem will be a very big issue. Mental health is about working to your full capability being able to focus. Sure people will be stressed, angry, feeling down and tense but that’s just how life is. If those signs persist for a long period of time or it interrupts that person's daily routine it would not be good for their mental health and be concerning that they might have some sort of mental health problem. Good mental health would be being able to cope with those different feeling on a day to day basis whether that is studying for school or working but if you can do that it would mean that you have good mental health and there shouldn’t be any problems.    
Firstly this article will look at the history of the drug, how it is made, the chemical formula and properties, how it affects the brain then how it affects the user’s mental health.    


Sassafras is turned into pure safrole. Formaldehyde and Ammonium Chloride are reacted together to make MethylAmine HydroChloride. Then Safrole is reacted with Palladium Chloride and Benzoquinone making 3,4-Methylenedioxyphenylpropan-2-one, then this is reacted with Aluminium and Mercury Producing MDMA oil. Then the oil is crystallised to form pills.   

During the first step you must heat the safrole very slowly in a vacuum until it boils around 110C. Step 2 heat the Formaldehyde and Ammonium Chloride very slowly to exactly 104C and keep it at that temperature for 4 hours. Step 3 use a magnetic stir bar on a slow speed for 7 hours. Step 4 more distillation for 4 hours. Step 5 takes another 6 hours. Step 6 shake all ingredients then let it settle for 15 minutes then repeat for 3 more times then filter out the crystals and let them dry.
MDMA is an entactogen. It has 2 melting points depending on the way the crystal has been formed if it is with isopropanol/n-hexane it melts at 147 C-148 C but if it is made by isopropanol/ether which melts at 152 C-153 C. Its boiling point from oil is 100 C-110 C. It is a lightly tanned white powder. It is soluble in water in its crystal form but the base oil is colourless and insoluble.Some of the x MDMA is very similar to Ecstasy! MDMA is a synthetic drug. MDMA is a stimulant and is taken in a capsule, tablet, liquid by swallowing or even snorted in powder form.

MDMA enters the bloodstream via the mouth upon entering. Then down into the  stomach where part of it is dissolved then continues through into the small intestine where the rest of it is dissolved very easily. Then the MDMA molecules have now entered the bloodstream and are sent off to the liver where some of the MDMA is metabolized. The rest travels through to the heart via the veins once arrival to the heart it is then pumped to the lungs where it is then transferred to the oxygenated blood then returned to the heart. Then the heart pumps the blood to the brain and various other organs in the body. Usually there is a block or a barrier in between the blood vessels and the brain cells leading to the brain letting only blood into the brain, the barrier is for allowing no drugs to enter but because MDMA is still in its nonpolar form it can get through very easily, it’s as if it is camouflaged. It will take on average 15 minutes for the MDMA to reach the brain on an empty stomach and it could take from 20 minutes to an hour or even more depending on your dosage, metabolism and depending whether you took it with food and takes 3 to 6 hours before the user starts to not feel the affects (comes down).

This is an explanation of the neuron’s response to the neurotransmitters that are involved in the reaction. The nerve pathway that is mostly affected by the drug is the pathway called the serotonin pathway. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is synthesized, stored and released by different neurons specifically in the pathway. t is involved in a few different processes within the brain including mood, appetite, aggression, sleep, emotions, anxiety, memory and perception. Serotonin pathways connect the different regions in the brain. The cell bodies of the serotonin pathway are located in the raphe nucleus which is located in the brain stem area. Neurons send long axons to higher centers in the brain including the neocortex and the limbic system. Serotonin neurons also go down the spinal cord. Depending on where the serotonin is released in the brain it will have different functions. If it is released in the frontal cortex it will regulate memory and thinking skills. If it is released in the amygdala it will affect mood.

Serotonin is stored in little sacks at the end of the neuron. When an electrical impulse travels down the neuron serotonin is released into the synaptic space. Then it binds with the receptors on the dendrites of the next neuron. The extra serotonin is transported back to the neuron it came from by serotonin transporters MDMA attacks these transporters by attaching on to them and not allowing it to transfer the serotonin and fills up the synaptic space. The drug can also make the transporters work in reverse and bring more serotonin into the synaptic space. This is the main short term effect of MDMA on brain chemistry. The build up of the serotonin causes the artificial high of the drug by lifting the user’s mood and giving them a feeling of pleasure. This is what makes it addictive because you want the same feeling over and over again.    


So how does the drug MDMA affect the mental health of someone that has consumed it whether it be straight away or in the future. Some of the short term effects are confusion, depression, sleep problems, severe anxiety, paranoia and other drug cravings which are all different mental health problems. As most of us know in this current time that depression is a very severe problem with young people and in some very sad and disturbing occasions it leads to suicide which is happening way too often and that is without taking this drug or any other drug. MDMA increases the risk of getting depressed as one of its many side effects. There are also a large range of long term effects that are long lasting brain damage affecting thought and memory, depression, anxiety, memory loss, kidney failure and in some severe circumstances death. 
Serotonin is the chemical in your brain that is responsible for maintaining your food balance it affects your food, mood, social behaviour, appetite, sleep and memory. MDMA increases the activity in the brain of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. It causes a larger release of serotonin which creates the high feeling the drug user experiences but this causes a large quantity of serotonin to be used up and for several days the user will be feeling low due to the decrease of serotonin transporting in the brain. Some studies have shown that these effects can last a long time causing long term memory problems and depression. Dopamine is released in your brain giving you a sense of pleasure for example sexual intercourse or when you hug your child or eat a nice meal dopamine is released giving you a sense of pleasure. After taking MDMA your levels of of dopamine are depleted which makes it really difficult to feel pleasure in things that would normally make you feel good. This is why depression is a side effect because it lessens your chance of feeling happy. 
Norepinephrine increases your heart rate and triggers the release of energy so when you take MDMA you use up large quantities of energy but after you will feel exhausted.
MDMA causes neurotoxicity in animals it changes the structure of axons and causes intellectual damage and fatalities have also been a result of the toxicity of MDMA.    


MDMA is an amphetamine also known as ecstasy. It is a drug that affects your neurotransmitters, serotonin levels especially. The main ingredient to make it is Sassafras which is turned into pure safrole. It is usually crystallised and turned into tablets “pills” and users take it orally. People take it because it gives them a feeling of energy and increased enjoyment or pleasure. The effects kick in only after 20 minutes after taking it and can last up to 6 hours. It causes these effects by increasing the serotonin levels in your brain but can be very toxic and cause long lasting damage. Some of the side effects are depression, anxiety, memory damage, sleep problems and in some severe circumstances death. With depression already being a big issue in society anything that contributes to the risk of depression needs to be stopped. In conclusion the drug MDMA highly affects your mental health by altering your brain chemistry. 

Public Education Piece

For my public education piece I made a brochure to advise the general public of the information showed in this report.


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