Effects & Risks of Ecstasy (MDMA) Use

Ecstasy, or 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), is an illegal synthetic drug that has stimulant and hallucinogenic properties.1,2 People use ecstasy for different reasons, such as to feel increased wellbeing or altered perceptions of time and sensation.1 While people may say that ecstasy misuse helps them feel good, ecstasy can also have a variety of negative effects.1

If you or someone you know use ecstasy, you may wish to learn more about MDMA risks, MDMA dangers, and MDMA effects on the body, as well as recognize when it’s time to seek professional help for ecstasy misuse.

Effects of Ecstasy (MDMA)

Using ecstasy can result in a wide range of effects on the brain and body, some of which can be acute MDMA side effects that occur shortly after taking it.2 The immediate MDMA short-term effects that people often perceive as desirable can occur, on average, within 45 minutes after administration.2  These effects can include:2,3

  • Increased energy.
  • Increased self-awareness.
  • Increased feelings of wellbeing.
  • Feeling more outgoing and social.
  • Increased empathy and emotional warmth.
  • A desire to discuss emotionally-charged memories.

Health Risks & Dangers of Ecstasy (MDMA)

Although certain MDMA effects can feel pleasurable, there are also health risks and dangers associated with ecstasy use that can range from mild to severe and potentially cost someone their life.3 Some of the more serious acute health risks/dangers of ecstasy use can include hyperthermia and dehydration.3

Hyperthermia (dangerously high body temperature), can occur as a result of ecstasy use and can promote increased physical activity, leading to dangerous changes in the body’s temperature-regulating mechanisms.3 As a consequence, people can suffer from disturbed electrolyte levels, which can result in kidney failure and other dangerous complications.3

Dehydration, which can be caused by increased activity, may cause people to consume more water or other beverages, potentially leading to dangerous electrolyte levels and water retention.3

Ecstasy (MDMA) Effects on the Heart

Ecstasy can have a variety of acute and long-term effects on the heart and cardiovascular system. MDMA heart effects can include:

  • Elevated blood pressure.3
  • Heart disease.3
  • Different types of arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat).5 Untreated arrythmias can lead to stroke, heart failure, or heart attack.6
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy, or an enlarged heart that cannot effectively pump blood.5,7
  • Myocardial infarction, or heart attack.8
  • Heart failure due to the inability to regulate body temperature.9
  • Intracranial hemorrhage, which causes bleeding in the intracranial vault in the brain.8,10 High blood pressure (which, as mentioned above, can also be caused by ecstasy misuse) is a risk factor for intracranial hemorrhage.10
  • Aortic dissection, which is a tear in the aorta, the body’s primary artery.8,11 This can lead to many additional complications, such as stroke, multiorgan failure, and even death.11

Ecstasy (MDMA) Effects on the Brain

Ecstasy use can also cause a variety of effects on the brain, leading to different neurological, psychological, and behavioral effects. However, research does not generally take into account pre-existing behavioral or emotional problems, so it can be hard to say whether ecstasy alone is responsible for some of these effects.4

Ecstasy brain effects can include:

  • Increased release of serotonin and norepinephrine, and, to a lesser extent, dopamine.4 Serotonin is responsible for ecstasy’s typical mood-elevating effects.4
  • Confusion, paranoia, anxiety, and memory problems several days after use due to depletion of serotonin.4
  • Cognitive impairment, emotional excitation, and euphoria due to increased norepinephrine.4
  • Decreased brain activity in different areas, such as the prefrontal, parietal, and mediotemporal cortices, amygdala, and hippocampus.4 This can cause cognitive problems, including learning and processing difficulties.4
  • Delirium or seizures due to overdose.8 These symptoms can occur due to central nervous system (CNS) hyperactivity.8
  • Brain swelling, which can occur as a result of untreated hyperthermia.3
  • Mood and behavioral problems, which can include depersonalization (feeling like you’re detached from your body), confusion or disorganized thoughts, panic attacks, or perceptual changes which could lead to problems with judgment or risk-taking behaviors for hours after you take MDMA.3
  • Long-term psychological effects, such as an increased risk of depression or impulsivity.3

Additionally, while there’s not yet conclusive research on the topic, some evidence suggests that people can also develop symptoms that are consistent with addiction, such as craving and continued ecstasy misuse despite the negative consequences.12

Treatment for Ecstasy Misuse in Nevada

Desert Hope is a leading provider of treatment for ecstasy misuse and addiction. We offer a complete continuum of care to suit your changing needs as you progress throughout rehab, including different levels of addiction treatment such as detox, inpatient and/or outpatient rehab, and aftercare. We will develop a customized treatment plan that’s suited to your unique needs to help you get started on the path to recovery.

If you are interested in seeking ecstasy misuse or addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one, please call to speak to a caring admissions navigator to learn more about the different types of rehab care. You can also learn more about our inpatient rehab in Las Vegas, insurance and other ways to pay for rehab, and how to get admitted today.

Get started on your recovery right now by having your insurance verified with us. Simply fill out this secure online and get results within minutes.

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