Ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) also known MDMA, Molly, or X, is an illegal drug that more than 18 million people in the United States have used at least once in their lifetime. It has the combined effects of speed and a hallucinogen, which causes short and long-term effects on the mind and body. Some effects are dangerous and require immediate medical attention.
How Ecstasy Works
Ecstasy acts on the brain by increasing the activity of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin neurotransmitters. Serotonin regulates mood, sleep, pain, and other behaviors and when ecstasy is used, it causes more serotonin to be released, heightening your sensitivity and emotional state.
Ecstasy can be ingested in a number of different ways including snorting, smoking, or injecting. According to University of Maryland Center for Substance Abuse Research, the effects of the drug can be felt 20 to 40 minutes after being consumed. You will feel a rush of excitement which is often accompanied by nausea. Within 60 to 90 minutes, you will experience "peak" effects. Some users may continue to experience symptoms up to 2 days after taking the drug. Ecstasy can cause short-term physical, emotional, and psychological effects.
Short-Term Physical Effects
Studies indicate short-term ecstasy use, even in low-doses and by individuals who have only used the drug once, can result in changes in brain cells, lower memory performance, and decreased blood supply to the brain. More research is needed to know if these effects are temporary or long-term.
The Foundation for a Drug-Free World also highlights other short-term physical effects including:
- Vision changes and blurred vision
- Increased nausea
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate
- Decreased appetite
- Involuntary teeth grinding, teeth clenching
- Muscle cramping and muscle tension
- Increased body temperature, sweating, chills, fainting, or dehydration
Short-Term Emotional Effects
Because ecstasy affects the cells in the brain that produce serotonin, this drug also greatly impacts your emotions including:
- Increasing self-confidence and energy
- Heightening feelings of peace, tranquility, and empathy
- Lowering sexual inhibitions
Short-Term Psychological Effects
With increased, use ecstasy user can become dependent on the drug and experience changes to their psychological state. Some noted psychological effects may include:
- Sleep interference
- Extreme anxiousness
- Paranoid delusions
Fatal Short-Term Physical Effects
Even light or occasional MDMA users are at risk of overdose and even death. Death can result from:
- Kidney failure due to dehydration
- Racing heart rate
- Rise in body temperature
While it has not been determined how much ecstasy causes long-term damage, findings indicate that even occasional recreational use can have harmful lasting effects.
Long-Term Emotional Effects
Short-term emotional effects can lapse into an ongoing concern. A 2011 British study showed long-term use of the drug resulted in decreased brain and hippocampal volume. The hippocampus is responsible for regulating your emotions. Researchers also noted that user's grey matter was 4.6 percent lower when compared to non-ecstasy users. Grey matter is involved with regulating memory, emotions, speech, decision making, and self-control. Additional studies also found ecstasy use negatively impacts memory and emotions.
Long-Term Physical and Psychological Effects
Ecstasy use has been associated with certain long-term damage to the body and long-term psychological effects.
Some long-term physical effects include:
- Liver failure
- Heart failure
- Low blood pressure and poorer control of heart rate and blood pressure
- Increased likelihood of using other drugs
Possible long-term psychological effects are:
- Panic disorder
If you feel like you cannot function without ecstasy or if ecstasy has taken priority over your loved ones or financial obligations, you may be addicted. It is important to get help right away. Treatment and support are crucial to restoring your health and well-being.