3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), better known by its "street name" of Ecstasy is a psychoactive semi-synthetic drug, chemically related to Amphetamines. It acts as a stimulant and causes hallucinations, often of a psychedelic nature. It is rather unique among drugs as it also has the effect of reducing fear and anxiety, and people using it often have a feeling of immediate intimacy with the people they are with.
MDMA is currently a controlled substance. However, after it was synthesized, it was used (with largely undocumented results) in psychotherapy, couples therapy, and in the treatment of clinical depression. There are also advocates who believe it would be useful in treating post-traumatic stress disorder and the anxiety found in terminal cancer patients. Despite the strict controls on it, it is widely used as a recreational drug. However, its effects on humans, as well as its possible side effects are still poorly understood. However, death in users of the drug are rare, and are usually related to dehydration or heat stroke from the drug's tendency to increase physical activity and decrease discomfort.
MDMA was first synthesized in 1912 by a chemist working for the large pharmaceutical firm Merck. However, although it was patented at the time, no one looked at its possible effects on humans until the 1920s. Its primary effects were finally determined in animal studies conducted in the 1950s and it first appeared as a street drug in the 1970s.
Although the drug is often consumed by swallowing it orally in pill form, it can be taken in many other forms, such as a powder.
In the episode Hunting, Allison Cameron experiments with the patient's ecstasy and during the drug's initial phases she aggressively pursues and sleeps with Robert Chase. Ironically, this becomes the seed of Chase's attraction to Cameron and their later relationship.
In the episode It's a Wonderful Lie, an investigation of the patient's sexual contacts discovers that her last partner gave her Ecstasy just before they slept together. However, the Ecstasy is not related to the patient's primary symptoms.