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Abbott A, Concar D. 
“A trip into the unknown”. 
New Scientist. 1992 Aug 29;1:31-34.
The Oxford English dictionary defines it as a 'rapturous feeling, state of frenzy or stupor'. But to thousands of young people it comes in the shape of an innocuous-looking white tablet. More prosaically known as 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA, ecstasy is now believed to be the third most popular illicit drug in Britain after cannabis and amphetamine ('speed'). This weekend alone an estimated half a million Britons will go in search of its renowned bacchic pleasures: an intense feeling of emotional closeness to other people, a heightened sense of touch, a rush of energy.

Reports of deaths and repeated official condemnations of ecstasy have so far done little to quell demand. In one sense this is only to be expected: young people have always been society's great risk takers, as research on smoking habits testifies. Yet with ecstasy another factor may come into play. While much is now known about the effects of MDMA on rats--in particular, which neurotransmitter pathways it interferes with in the animal's brain--information about the drug's effects on humans is patchy. It is hard to build up a convincing case against a drug when you can't say exactly how dangerous it is or what the consequences of long-term use are.
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