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  • The Long-Term Effects Of Ecstasy (MDMA) Abuse

    The Long-Term Effects Of Ecstasy (MDMA) Abuse

    MDMA (also known as molly or ecstasy) is a powerful recreational drug. It is popular with dance clubs, raves, and people who are looking for increased excitement and activity.

    MDMA use can have both short-term and long-term effects on your physical and mental health. Some of these effects can be severe, and in rare cases, fatal.

    How MDMA Affects The Body

    MDMA is short for 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine. Once taken, it affects the following neurotransmitters in the brain:

    • dopamine, which controls pleasure and motivation
    • norepinephrine, which controls attention, energy metabolism, heart rate, and blood pressure
    • serotonin, which controls mood, sensory processing, appetite, and sexual functions

    Use of MDMA can increase concentrations of these chemicals, leading to positive feelings, increased energy, and some changes in perception. Changes in the chemical balance of the brain can cause side effects, even after MDMA has worn off.

    Long-Term Side Effects

    After the energetic “rush” of MDMA (also known as “rolling,”), people often experience feelings of depression, anxiety, and mental impairment. These effects, known as “coming down,” last for about one week, and are common with people who have taken MDMA.

    Taking MDMA can cause neurotoxicity or damage to the brain.  The risk increases if it is taken in high doses. Neurotoxicity can cause a number of effects in the short- and long term.

    Risk Of Contracting STIs

    Ecstasy is often called the “love drug.” Its effects on the brain can lead to feelings of trust and closeness, even between strangers. This may increase the chances of unsafe behavior, such as unsafe sexual activity.

    Unsafe sexual activity can increase the risk of an STI, such as HIV, hepatitis, and others. The trust and closeness you feel after a dose of MDMA can be misleading and even dangerous.

    Permanent Health Risks

    Long-term MDMA use can result in impaired concentration and memory. It can also result in psychiatric complications, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, and paranoia.

    Additionally, if an MDMA overdose occurs, it can be severely toxic to several organ systems in the body.

    • Heart and blood vessels: Abnormal heart rhythms, heart attack, tear to the body’s main artery (aorta), and brain bleed
    • Brain: Brain swelling, seizures, and coma
    • Liver: Liver failure
    • Kidneys: Acute kidney failure

    While rare, deaths from MDMA toxicity are most commonly due to overheating and low sodium levels.

    Is MDMA An Addictive Drug?

    Tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal can occur with repeated use and high doses of MDMA. However, dependence and withdrawal with MDMA are not typically as severe as they are for more addictive substances like alcohol, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. As a result, MDMA use does not often result in addiction.

    MDMA Abuse & Treatment

    MDMA is a powerful illicit drug with stimulant and hallucinogenic properties. It is unique in the combination of the psychedelic, physical, and emotional effects it has on you.

    There is some research being done on MDMA as a treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety, but MDMA is still an illegal substance. Until more conclusive results are found, taking MDMA in any form is substance abuse, and has substantial risks.

    To learn more about ecstasy and other kinds of illicit drug use, contact us today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2023 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
    Medically Reviewed by
    Lauren Weinand, M.D.
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