Introduction

'Ecstasy' (MDMA, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is a ring-substituted amphetamine derivative that has become increasingly popular since it first became associated with the 'rave' music scene during the late 1980s.(1) Incorrectly termed a designer drug, MDMA was first synthesized in 1912 by the Merck Pharmaceuticals as a product of ongoing research, although it never reached the commercial market. It was relatively ignored until the 1950s when United States Army experiments investigated its potential to assist espionage during the Cold War, and it was not until the late 1960s and early 1970s that drug users on the west coast of America began to popularize its recreational use. Although ecstasy is the drug most frequently associated with the term 'party drug' most users of MDMA are polysubstance abusers with experience of cannabis, LSD, amphetamine, amyl nitrate, and cocaine. This chapter is concerned with ecstasy, ketamine, g-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), khat, and tryptamine derivatives.

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