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MDMA acts as both a stimulant and psychedelic, producing an energizing effect, distortions in time and perception, and enhanced enjoyment of tactile experiences. MDMA is considered a “party drug.” As with many other drugs of abuse, MDMA is rarely used alone and it is common for users to mix it with alcohol and marijuana.

How is it abused?

MDMA use mainly involves swallowing tablets which are sometimes crushed and snorted, occasionally smoked but rarely injected. MDMA is also available as a powder.

What is its effect on the mind and body?

MDMA mainly affects brain cells that use the chemical serotonin to communicate with each other. Serotonin helps to regulate mood, aggression, sexual activity, sleep, and sensitivity to pain. Clinical studies suggest that MDMA may incrase the risk of long-term, perhaps permanent, problems with memory and learning.

Some unwanted psychological effects include:

  • confusion
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • paranoia
  • sleep problems
  • drug craving

Users of MDMA may experience many of the same effects and face many of the same risks as users of other stimulants such as increased motor activity, alertness, heart rate, and blood pressure.

Other physical effects include:

  • muscle tension
  • tremors
  • involuntary teeth clenching
  • muscle cramps
  • nausea
  • faintness
  • chills
  • sweating
  • blurred vision

Studies suggest chronic use can produce damage to the serotonin system and reduce a person’s ability to feel pleasure.

Inhalants are invisible, volatile substances found in common household products that produce chemical vapors that are in haled to induce psychoactive or mind altering effects. They can be found in products such as glue, lighter fluid, cleaning fluids, and paint.

Inhalants are breathed in through the nose or mouth in a variety of ways, such as:

  • “sniffing” or “snorting”
  • “bagging” – sniffing or inhaling fumes from substances sprayed or deposited inside a plastic or paper bag
  • “huffing” from an inhalant-soaked rag stuffed in the mouth, or inhaling from balloons filled with nitrous oxide

Inhalants are often among the first drugs that young children use. About 1 in 5 children have reported using inhalants by the eighth grade.

What is their effect on the mind and body?

Inhalant abuse can cause damage to the parts of the brain that control thinking, moving, seeing, and hearing. Within minutes of inhalation, the user experiences intoxication along with other effects similar to those produced by alcohol. These effects may include slurred speech, an inability to coordinate movements, euphoria, and dizziness. Additional symptoms exhibited by long-term inhalant abusers include:

  • weight loss
  • muscle weakness
  • disorientation
  • inattentiveness
  • lack of coordination
  • irritability
  • depression
  • damage to the nervous system and other organs

Prolonged sniffing of the highly concentrated chemicals in solvents or aerosol sprays can induce irregular and rapid heart rhythms and lead to heart failure and death within minutes.

Anabolic steroids are synthetically produced variants of the naturally occurring male hormone testosterone that are abused in an attempt to promote muscle growth, enhance athletic or other physical performance, and improve physical appearance. They are available in tablets and capsules, sublingual-tablets, liquid drops, gels, creams, transdermal patches, subdermal implant pellets, and water-based and oil-based injectable solutions.

Testosterone, nandrolone, stanozolol, methandienone, and boldenone are some of the most frequently abused anabolic steroids.

How are they abused?

Steroids are ingested orally, injected intramuscularly, or applied to the skin. The doses abused are often 10 to 100 times higher than the approved therapeutic and medical treatment dosages.

What is their effect on the mind and body?

They have a wide range of adverse effects on the mind and body. Case studies and scientific research indicate that high doses may cause mood and behavioral effects such as:

  • dramatic mood swings
  • increased feelings of hostility
  • impaired judgement
  • increased levels of aggression

When users stop taking steroids, they may experience depression that may be severe enough to lead one to commit suicide.

In adolescents, anabolic steroid use can stunt the ultimate height that an individual achieves. In boys, they can cause early sexual development and acne. In girls and women, use can induce permanent physical changes, such as deepening of the voice, increased facial and body hair, menstrual irregularities, male pattern baldness, and lengthening of the clitoris.

In grown men, steroid use can cause shrinkage of the testicles, reduced sperm count, enlargement of the male breast tissue, sterility, and an increased risk of prostate cancer.

In both men and women, they can cause high cholesterol levels, which may increase the risk of coronary artery disease, strokes, and heart attacks.

Source: United States, U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration. Drugs of Abuse 2015 Edition: A DEA Resource Guide.

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