Scientific evidence is mounting that ecstasy isn’t just a party drug.
According to lore, in the early 1980s, an enterprising drug distributor in Los Angeles was trying to build a street market for the chemical compound MDMA. It seemed like a promising product— MDMA floods the brain with serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of happiness. Users reported feeling euphoric, appreciating lights and music in a new way, and a rush of emotional intimacy. MDMA was starting to catch on as a club drug, but if it was going to be big, it would need a catchier name.
With partygoers in mind, the dealer coined the name “Ecstasy.” “Empathy,” he reportedly said, “would be more appropriate, but how many people know what it means?”