Ecstasy and “Molly” are two kinds of the same drug, both of which contain MDMA. Ecstasy is usually sold in a tablet or pill form that is pressed with different logos and designs, while “Molly” is thought to be the “pure” form of the drug and is typically sold as capsules containing a white crystalline powder.
MDMA can be dangerous when it is replaced – and often is – by a cheaper drug substitute such as “bath salts.” Ecstasy, the tablet form of the drug, is often combined with amphetamines, methamphetamine, heroin, ketamine and other drugs which can have other harmful effects. People also commonly mix MDMA with marijuana, alcohol, nicotine and other drugs, which can also be dangerous.
MDMA abuse: Short-term effects
The effects of MDMA include elevations in users’ mood, changes in awareness of their senses and time, increased energy, pleasure and enhanced feelings of social connection, which cause users to feel more empathetic and closer to others around them.
Depending on the method of administration (e.g., snorting or ingesting), MDMA takes approximately 15 minutes to an hour to start taking effect. The effects can last up to six hours. Low doses of MDMA can lead to pleasant and euphoric effects, distortions of senses, and an enhanced sense of well-being. A popular drug, MDMA can have a variety of adverse health effects.
Following are some of the effects of MDMA abuse:
- Increased blood pressure
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
- Blurred vision
- Teeth grinding and involuntary jaw clenching
- Chills and/or sweating
- Nausea or faintness
Heat-related illnesses due to MDMA is especially common in users who do not drink enough or drink too much water. People may develop hyperthermia (heat-related illness), or hyponatremia (drinking too much water). Hyponatremia can be problematic for MDMA users, as it can dilute the amount of sodium in the body.
MDMA abuse: Health consequences and long-term effects
When taken for several days in a row or when taken repeatedly over long periods of time, MDMA can also lead to physical and psychological problems. It can affect body temperature regulation, and at higher doses of the drug, cardiovascular, kidney or liver damage and even failure, can occur.
MDMA can also deplete serotonin, resulting in lasting changes in a person’s behavior and mood. Memory problems, mood changes, and cognitive difficulties are particularly common in the days and weeks following MDMA use. A moderate use of MDMA may cause its users to experience a range of emotions including irritability, anxiety, restlessness and sadness.
Serious consequences of long-term MDMA abuse include neuronal damage, brain lesions and hemorrhages, convulsions, and organ damage or failure. Problems with thought processes, memory and information processing are also common in long-term MDMA users.
Continued use of the drug can cause one to develop psychological and physical dependence causing one to experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when its use is stopped abruptly. Following are some of the MDMA withdrawal symptoms:
- Sleep problems (e.g., insomnia)
- Anxiety and/or depressive symptoms
- Attention and memory problems
- Decreased interest/pleasure from sex
- Risky sexual behaviors, which can increase the risk of contracting a sexually-transmitted disease or infection
A supervised MDMA detox treatment at certified MDMA detox centers can help ease the MDMA withdrawal symptoms and minimize the likelihood of a relapse.
MDMA has a high potential for abuse, and addiction is possible. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5; American Psychiatric Association or APA) classifies MDMA addiction as “Other Hallucinogen Disorder” along with other drugs like mescaline, peyote and lysergic acid diethylamide (LDS).
A Schedule I drug MDMA overdose is possible, especially in people who take large doses of the drug. A party drug, MDMA abuse can have serious and long-lasting side effects. A powerful stimulant that increases heart rate and body temperature, MDMA usage in any form can result in death due to overheating of organs.
Following are some of the effects of MDMA overdose:
- Heat stroke
- Fainting or loss of consciousness
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Permanent brain damage