Side Effects of MDMA
MDMA, also referred to as Ecstasy or Molly, is a drug taken for its euphoric side effects that stimulate many psychological and physical sensations in the body. Often the drug is for recreational use, like being taken for partying which induces more severe risks associated with the drug. There are many long-term side effects of
the perpetual use of the drug. Addressed further are the immediate and long-term side effects of “Molly.”
The side effects of Molly are usually felt within 45 minutes, and can last between 3-6 hours. Side effects of Molly increase serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels. These brain chemicals are altered and make users feel a heightened energy, empathy, emotional warmth, sexual arousal, and overall elevated mood. For some, the
immediate side effects of Molly are in conjunction with nausea, chills, sweating, muscle stiffness, blurred vision, tremors, restlessness, and teeth grinding.
Additionally, users are at greater health risk when taking MDMA in tandem with the particular environment where there is increased physical exertion and increased environmental temperature. For instance, under these conditions, the drug can interfere with regulating body temperature leading to hyperthermia. Actually, a normal dose (70-125mg) can raise the body temperature one degree. Because MDMA can raise the body temperature, this puts the body at further risk for heatstroke.
Consequently, other fatal reactions to the drug when consumed under these conditions include muscle breakdown, electrolyte imbalance, kidney failure, and swelling of the brain. Perpetual users are at risk for reduced heart pumping efficiency. Long term side effects of MDMA are from perpetual use of the drug. The coming down effect refers to when the drug fades, creating a “crash.” Most often users will take a second dose of MDMA when they start coming down. This crash could lead to further use of the drug to maintain the high.
Although MDMA increases the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, it also blocks reuptake of them later, which can lead to bouts of depression. Over time, serotonin levels become depleted which could intensify depressive mood, including difficulties, anxiety, and decreased attention or awareness. In fact, studies have indicated that
serotonin is almost entirely depleted in the body of monkey test subjects that used a daily dose of MDMA for two weeks, and the original levels of serotonin were not regenerated even after 7 years.
Subsequently, MDMA effects the brain similar to other drugs, indicating that the use of the drug can become addictive. The increased use of the drug has been said to cause lesions in the brain that looks like brain damage on CT scans. These locations in the brain that are affected regulate sleep, emotion, and learning—all of which are
detrimental to the health of the user. It is also suggested that persistent use of the drug can make the blood in the brain more susceptible to toxins.
What’s worse, MDMA is sometimes added with other drugs like cocaine, ketamine, heroine, methamphetamine, cough medicine, or bath salts. Even what’s sold as Molly does not always contain MDMA, according to the U.S. D.E.A. These additives make this very risky for anyone taking this without awareness; but especially when the drug
is used in combination with alcohol, sets the stage for further risk of immediate health problems.
Tragically, there have been reported deaths and hospitalizations associated with MDMA on the rise. Most MDMArelated fatalities were when the user consumed the normal dose. MDMA tends to make people retain water, and autopsies have indicated users died after they drank too much water, causing the electrolyte imbalance. Water intoxication, or Hyponatremia, is the second most common MDMA-related hospitalization or death. Particularly for women, water intoxication is likely because of estrogen’s reaction to the drug in the body.
Furthermore, dehydration and heart failure are also associated with the medical emergencies and deaths of MDMA. But heatstroke is the most common cause of deaths and hospitalization related to MDMA. As mentioned, MDMA is not always 100% pure, so some medical emergencies and fatalities were because the drug was something else or
mixed with other drugs. MDMA can be consequential when voluntarily mixing other drugs and alcohol under the extreme conditions of a party environment.
Despite the warnings to young adults about the party scene, people continue to risk their health and lives for the high. Each user will have a different reaction, so it depends on the regular use, the amount consumed, gender, environmental conditions, and pre-existing health conditions that will determine the reaction of MDMA on the body.
MDMA has immediate side effects on the physical body that can be fatal. As mentioned, heatstroke, heart failure, water toxicity, and dehydration are the culprits for these fatalities when MDMA was consumed.
Likewise, side effects of MDMA will continue to be stronger and more adverse with perpetual use leading to more psychological problems. These long-term side effects include depleting brain chemicals such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine that will take years to be restored. For some, these effects on the brain are irreversible, and will result in psychological effects such as depression, addiction, memory loss, and psychotic episodes (mood swings). The physical side effects can cause kidney failure, difficulty sleeping, convulsions, and brain hemorrhage when MDMA is taken long-term.
When recognizing these symptoms, there are several ways to make a healthy recovery. First, consider lifestyle changes that will help restore and regenerate the body to its full potential, like exercising, drinking plenty of water, and adopting a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables. Secondly, treatment may be necessary to overcome addiction like behavioral therapy, or inpatient rehabilitation, to get to the root cause of the psychological and physiological barriers that were triggered by drugs.