The Health Effects of MDMA

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Electronic Dance Music (EDM) has become almost synonymous with current pop music. DJs are treated like pop stars, performing at huge festivals and sold out clubs. With this increase in the popularity of EDM over the past decade, there has also been an increase in the use of MDMA. This drug is too easy to find at many concerts, as thousands in attendance party together during sequential DJ sets.

MDMA, also known as Ecstasy or Molly, is a synthetic, psychoactive drug popular among concert goers because it is a stimulant that increases pleasure from tactile experiences. Although many people who use MDMA deem the drug “harmless”, there are many harmful short and long-term consequences of using this drug.

Short Term Effects

MDMA mainly effects the serotonin system where neurons in the brain communicate with other neurons. It mimics the release of serotonin from one neuron to the other, giving users a type of high. Effects typically occur 60-90 minutes after ingestion and continue to happen for two to four hours.

People who are high on MDMA may experience physical effects including muscle tension, involuntary clenching of the teeth, nausea, blurred vision, faintness, chills, sweating, increases in heart rate, and increases in blood pressure. There have been reports of deaths resulting from dehydration, hyperthermia, and heart or kidney failure linked to MDMA use. Symptoms of MDMA overdose include high blood pressure, faintness, panic attacks, loss of consciousness, and seizures.

In the days after using MDMA, people may experience issues with sleep, memory, mood, and appetite due to the brain’s serotonin neurons being damaged. Mood issues include anxiety, irritability, sadness, aggression, restlessness, and impulsivity. Many people also experience reduced interest in and pleasure from sex. These effects can last for weeks after taking the drugs.

Long Term Effects

Long term effects of MDMA include liver damage, kidney failure, cardiovascular collapse, and brain damage. Within the brain, nerve branches and nerve endings degenerate, resulting in mood, memory learning, and sleep issues. Mood issues can include depression and anxiety. Users can easily become addicted as they look for the next high and withdrawal symptoms are extremely common. After extended use, MDMA can even reduce the pumping efficiency of the heart even in small doses, as well as general cognitive function.

If learning about the harmful physical and mental health effects of MDMA motivates you to stop using the substance, consider working towards recovery with a counselor. You can begin this process by contacting Rehab After Work for an intake evaluation today.


Article Written by Shaylyn Forte, LPC, CAADC