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What Is MDMA?

What is MDMA? Learn about its types, effects, dangers, and addiction treatment options in this comprehensive article.

What Is MDMA (Ecstasy)?

MDMA has been a popular drug of choice for quite some time. While its energizing, hallucinogenic effects may be enticing to some, the drug is inherently dangerous. In 2020, 0.9% of people aged twelve and older in the United States reported using MDMA.[1 ]

In this article, discover what MDMA is and how its side effects can negatively affect people’s quality of life.

What It Does and How It Is Used

So, what is MDMA? To get a good answer to the question, it’s important to understand what it does and how it is used.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies MDMA as a Schedule I drug, meaning it has no medical use and has a high potential for abuse. MDMA is an illegal substance that contains the properties of a stimulant and a hallucinogenic. 

This synthetic drug delivers a boost in energy, distorts time and perception, and produces feelings of euphoria. It also increases people’s sense of empathy and self-awareness. MDMA can be taken in pill or powder form.  

Types of MDMA

MDMA is commonly referred to as Ecstasy (MDMA pills) and Molly (MDMA powder). This section will review the properties of each.  

  • MDMA Pills: Ecstasy refers to MDMA pills that come in capsule or tablet form. Capsules of MDMA can be particularly dangerous because they often contain adulterants such as methamphetamine, cough medicine (dextromethorphan), heroincocaine, phencyclidine (PCP), caffeine, ephedrine, and ketamine.
  • MDMA Crystals Powder: The MDMA crystals powder form of the drug is often referred to as Molly. While many think that Molly is a form of pure MDMA, this is not the case. Dealers may sell the powder on the streets, marketing it as Molly, but they are actually selling methylone, a synthetic substance found in bath salts. Methylone binds to the brain, potentially doing extensive damage.

Effects of MDMA

The ecstasy drug is quite dangerous and can affect the body in the short and long term. Here are some of the most common side effects caused by MDMA:

Short-Term Ecstasy Side Effects

MDMA has multiple short-term consequences on the mind and body. These effects include: 

  • Hypertension
  • Faintness
  • Panic Attacks
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Hyperthermia

Hyperthermia, an elevated core temperature above 38.5°C (101.3°F), is a common side effect of ecstasy. Research has shown that MDMA can increase body temperature by 0.2°C to 0.8°C. One study, in particular, found that 23% of participants experienced moderate hyperthermia, resulting in body temperatures rising above 38°C (100.4°F).[2]

Long-Term Ecstasy Side Effects

MDMA can lead to long-term impacts on the mind and body as well, including:

  • Depression
  • Muscle Cramping
  • Blurred Vision
  • Dependence of MDMA
  • Memory Problems
  • Liver Problems

Multiple studies suggest that MDMA is linked to decreased serotonin levels in the brain, resulting in depression and suicidal thoughts. Additionally, a more recent study found that ecstasy use can result in psychosis, a mental health condition that causes hallucinations, delusions, and impaired sense of reality.[3]

Uses of MDMA

MDMA is used recreationally for its energizing effects, its ability to produce feelings of euphoria, and its potential to enhance tactile experiences. People often take it at nightclubs, raves, and rock concerts.  

Potential MDMA Uses

The drug was originally produced in Germany in 1912 as a possible appetite suppressant, which was proven ineffective. In more recent years, researchers and scientists began testing MDMA for its potential to treat mental disorders such as:

  • PTSD: One study found that after eighteen weeks of MDMA-assisted therapy, 67% of patients were no longer diagnosed with PTSD, and 33% were in remission.[4]
  • Anxiety: MDMA may suppress activity in the amygdala of the brain, which is responsible for fear and anxiety, making it a potential treatment for anxiety disorder
  • Depression: MDMA may instill feelings of calmness and trust, effectively reducing depression. 
  • Addiction: The ecstasy drug may relieve underlying conditions that lead to addiction, reducing the chances of relapse.

Although MDMA has positive results, it is still classified as a Schedule I drug, which means it is not approved for any type of medical use. Therefore, the substance should not be used to treat any sort of physical, mental, or emotional disorder.

MDMA and Brain Damage

MDMA enters the body and interacts with the neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for sending messages between brain cells. It boosts levels of ‘feel good’ chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, resulting in an uplifting effect. However, MDMA has also shown the potential to cause brain damage.

How Does MDMA Affect the Brain?  

Animal studies show that just a few doses of the ecstasy drug can damage nerve cells in the brain that contain serotonin and decrease serotonin transporters. Low levels of serotonin can lead to memory loss, depression, anxiety, and confusion.[5]

Is There Treatment for MDMA Addiction?

MDMA abuse can lead to dangerous side effects and severe consequences. Fortunately, MDMA addiction treatment is available. Many centers offer assistance, but Genesis Recovery takes an approach that sets us apart.

Genesis Recovery is a nonprofit rehab center dedicated to helping men with dependency issues achieve long-lasting recovery and a higher quality of life. Our experienced medical staff creates customized treatment plans for each individual that integrates a variety of therapies, including 12-Step programs, group therapy, one-on-one therapy, alternative treatments, and more. We focus on faith and religion to instill in our clients a sense of purpose and self-worth. 

What is MDMA

Contact Genesis Recovery Today

MDMA may produce temporary euphoric results, but its harmful effects make it a risk not worth taking. If you find that ecstasy is interfering with your ability to enjoy life, reach out to Genesis Recovery today, and we will provide you with the tools you need for a successful recovery.  


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