Empathogens & Entactogens
The words empathogen and entactogen define a classification of drugs that act on the brain in a psychoactive way. When taken, they cause the user to feel a sense of emotional openness, the desire to relate to people, and emotional communion with others. They result in feelings of sympathy or empathy toward others. Examples of empathogen/enactogen drugs are is MDMA, which is also known as “Ecstasy”, MDEA (MDE), which is also known as “Eve”, and MDA, which is also known as “Sally”.
Most entactogens and empathogens are amphetamine-like drugs or phenethylamines, although some are tryptamine-like drugs. They are all synthetic illicit drugs that show stimulant properties and psychedelic properties, although they are sometimes confused with true stimulants or hallucinogens because they have similar properties.
The word “empathogen” means “generating a state of empathy”. This is because those that take the drugs are particularly empathic toward other people when the take this classification of drugs. The word “entactogen” means essentially the same thing as “empathogen” although the term “entactogen” actually means “touching within”. These words are used interchangeably, because they refer to the same drugs.
Physiological Actions on the Body
This classification of drugs refers to those that have some psychedelic effects on the body as well as anti-anxiety effects, antidepressant effects, stimulant effects (although they are not technically considered stimulants), and serenic effects. The term “serenic” refers to any drug that has anti-aggressive properties that lessen a person’s aggression and irritability.
MDMA stands for 3.4-methylaenioxy-methamphetamine. It is a synthetic illicit drug that changes the user’s awareness of their surrounding conditions and their mood. While chemically MDMA is related to hallucinogens and stimulants, it is not technically these kinds of drugs. Those who take MDMA use it to produce feelings of emotional warmth, a distorted sense of time, increased feelings of pleasure, and increased energy.
Originally MDMA was popularized by raves, which are all-night dancing parties, but now the drug has wider uses among people who refer to the drug as “Molly” or “Ecstasy”. Those who take MDMA generally use it in tablet or capsule form, although there is a liquid form of the drug and a powder form that is snorted to achieve a more rapid effect. Molly is usually sold on the street as a capsule, which is taken orally. It is often taken along with alcohol or marijuana, which potentiate its effects.
MDMA and Its Effect on the Brain
MDMA acts on the brain by increasing the amounts of three different neurotransmitters in the brain. These include the following:
- Dopamine. This is the neurotransmitter that is responsible for the increase in energy and euphoria seen when people take MDMA.
- Serotonin. This is the neurotransmitter that has a direct effect on a person’s mood, appetite, and sleep, among other things. It also has effectiveness in increasing the user’s sense of trust and increases their sexual arousal. When serotonin is released in a high enough quantity, it causes the user to desire emotional closeness with others, increases their mood, and enhances their empathy.
- Norepinephrine. This is the neurotransmitter that causes an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. Because of this effect, this classification of drug is not recommended for people who have problems with their blood vessels or their heart.
MDMA can have negative effects on the body as well, including the following:
- Feelings of sweatiness
- Blurry vision
- Clenching of the teeth
- Cramping of the muscles
- Nausea and sometimes vomiting
When using MDMA, the effect lasts between 3-6 hours, although some take another dose before the effects of the first dose begin to wane. If MDMA is taken for a longer period of time and in moderate doses, the individual may notice the following side effects:
- A decrease in libido and in pleasure from sexual activities
- Poor appetite
- Problems with attention and memory
- Depressive symptoms
- Aggressiveness and impulsivity
While these side effects may be from MDMA alone, it is suspected that using marijuana and other drugs with MDMA contribute to these effects.
Other Properties of MDMA
If one takes too much MDMA, this can affect the individual’s ability to control their body temperature. When this happens, the increased body temperature can lead to problems with the kidneys, heart or liver. People have died from taking too much MDMA.
Additionally, because a sense of closeness and trust comes from taking MDMA, the use of the drug along with Viagra may cause the user to engage in dangerous sexual behavior. This can increase the user’s chances of acquiring a sexually transmitted disease, such as hepatitis or HIV disease.
People who buy MDMA in powdered, capsule, or pill form take the risk of buying other drugs besides Ecstasy and Molly. Many Molly capsules have unsafe additives, such as synthetic cathinones, cough medicine, methamphetamine, ketamine, or cocaine. These, when taken along with MDMA, can be a dangerous combination. People who take these combinations by accident or on purpose, or take them with alcohol or marijuana can increase the risk of dangerous side effects.
The Addictive Potential of MDMA
Research on MDMA is mixed as to whether or not MDMA is addictive. Studies on animals reveal that the animals will spontaneously give themselves the drug, which is an indicator of the abuse potential of the drug. While they will self-administer the drug, they do so to a lesser degree than more addictive drugs, such as narcotics and cocaine.
Some people who use MDMA say they feel signs of withdrawal when not taking the drug, including having symptoms of difficulty concentrating, depressive symptoms, a decrease in appetite, and tiredness.
This is a synthetic, psychoactive drug with the chemical name of 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-ethyl-amphetamine. Users know it as the drug called “Eve”. It is a type of amphetamine, used to induce feelings of euphoria and empathy in its users. Like MDMA, it blocks the uptake (and thus increases) the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. It is considered an illicit drug in most places of the world with the exception of its use in medical research studies. It has no use as a medical drug.
MDEA is instead used as a recreational drug, much in the same way as MDMA although the effects of MDEA seem to be shorter acting and milder than MDA. It is usually consumed in pill or capsule form in doses that range from 100 mg to 200 mg. MDEA has been found to be one of the additives to Ecstasy. Research several years ago indicated that MDEA is an active drug in about 4 percent of tablets believed to be pure Ecstasy.
MDEA can have adverse side effects, which include the following:
- Decreased appetite
- Dilation of the pupils
- Increased body temperature
Overdoses of MDEA are possible with dangerous effects, including the following:
- An increase in sweatiness
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid heart rate
- Breakdown of muscle tissue
- Rigidity of the muscles
- DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulation
MDA is the abbreviation for the synthetic drug known as 3,4-methylenedioxy-amphetamine and is called by the street name of “Sally”, “Sass”, and “Sass-a-frass”. It is considered a psychoactive drug that is taken for its psychostimulant, psychedelic, and entactogenic properties. MDA acts by releasing and preventing the reuptake of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. In most countries, MDA is considered an illicit substance, although it is used for research purposes. It was in use as a psychedelic agent before MDMA, which is more commonly used today. It has no positive medical use.
MDA is chemically similar to Ecstasy, although those who use MDA indicate that it has more psychedelic and stimulant properties when compared to Ecstasy. It is also believed to be a less predictable drug than Ecstasy so that its actions on the brain vary from individual to individual. It is mainly used in order to enhance sexual experiences and for dancing.
Overdoses of MDA have been reported with side effects ranging from sweatiness, high blood pressure, elevated heart rate, agitation, seizures, and sometimes death. If death occurs, it is usually the result of its effect on the heart and its ability to cause brain hemorrhages, leading to stroke. It is considered a Schedule I drug with no reported medical uses.