The Love Drug

"Imagine, like, the best day you've ever had, where everything went right and you're falling in love with somebody," said Nadia*, a UF public relations student.

photo supplied by the Drug Enforcement Administration

"It feels just like that," she said. "But probably better."

Ecstasy's strength comes from a chemical in the brain called serotonin1, which typically trickles out in small doses when one feels pleasure, said UF pharmacy professor Paul Doering2.

Ecstasy floods the brain with the chemical. The result is about six hours of happiness.

"It's like you're in a completely alternate universe. It was really one of the most fun nights of my life," said Dennis*, a 24-year-old UF alumnus and ex-user.

The pill, which can come in several colors and be imprinted with designs like stars, Mitsubishi logos and Playboy bunnies, also grants users a higher sense of openness and empathy. Sounds, smells, tastes and touches intensify. Users fear less and feel closer to others.

"It activates the part of the brain that gives you the message that everything in the world is hunky-dory, everything is all right, there's nothing to worry about," Doering said. "It's stimulating all the pleasure centers in the brain at once."

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Supplements

* Source's name has been changed.

1 See "serotonin" in the glossary.

2 More information about Paul Doering.