Designer Drugs are synthetic substances that are manufactured and used for their psychoactive mood altering properties. They are relatively easy and inexpensive to manufacture. Unfortunately there are many situations where the manufacturing of the drug is not quite done properly and therefore may result in a final chemical compound that is slightly different than the compound intended, and therefore it's difficult to tell what some of the effects may be. For example, about 10 years ago at Middlebury College, we were seeing a batch of Ecstasy which was creating significant respiratory distress in students. Two students needed to be hospitalized as a result.
MDMA is also known as Ecstasy and is typical of Designer Drugs. It is a synthesized psychedelic with a history of recreational use among college students. It is sometimes called Intimacy by its users because the psychoactive effects are mild, usually with an impact of loosening social inhibitions. It has become a popular drug of use during "Rave" dance parties. In terms of psychological effects, it promotes a decrease in anxiety and depression while heightening a sense of introspection and intimacy. In general, low doses provide few side effects. Larger doses though, when taken with alcohol or other drugs, have produced fatalities. Cardiovascular problems including heart attacks have occurred, as have strokes. Liver disease, hypothermia, panic disorder, paranoid psychosis and depression have been reported to be precipitated by Ecstasy use. There is evidence that people who take Ecstasy even just a few times may be risking permanent problems with learning and memory. In addition, there have been reports of Ecstasy use creating a Parkinson's-like disorder, which in some cases has been irreversible.
Other side effects include sleeplessness, poor perception of time and distance. There can be marked anxiety or depression, dilation of the pupils, rapid heart beat, palpitations, sweating, blurred vision and coordination problems.