The side effects will be much heavier for people using strong doses every day for a long time compared to occasional users. Also, women tend to experience tougher consequences than men.
Your general health also contributes to how you will bear side effects. If you have no other mental or physical conditions and keep a healthy life – you will experience less painful adverse reactions. But that does not mean you are not in danger: keep reading.
Remember to take into account your situation when reviewing the commonly reported effects of Ecstasy intake.
Short-Term Effects of Consuming MDMA/Ecstasy
You can expect the first results after 15-30 minutes after ingesting an Ecstasy pill. The rush will last for 3-6 hours, where the desired stimulating and hallucinogenic effects will take place.
Shortly afterward follows the ‘come-down’, the first withdrawal symptoms.
In the coming days of repeated consumption, not only will the positive effects get weaker and weaker, but the painful side-effects will get stronger.
The first sensations appear 15- 30 minutes after taking the pill.
Desired Immediate Effects
- A great increase in energy levels.
- Enhanced focus
- Increased sexual arousal and higher pleasure from touch in general
- Empathy and emotional peace
- Time is perceived differently
Simultaneous Negative Effects
- The stimulants suppress appetite
- You don’t feel thirsty
- You don’t feel the need to sleep
That doesn’t seem that bad, does it? Well, if you make sure to remember to drink water, rest enough and make sure you don’t get too hot – maybe not. Short-term changes in brain chemistry can be temporary and reversible.
But be aware, that during your drug rush, your body is not telling you its basic needs. If you get dehydrated, too warm and exhaust your body, you are in danger of physical harm.
Stacking, Piggybacking, and Overdose
Some people take several pills at once (‘stacking’) to have greater sensations. Others take several doses in a row (‘piggybacking’), as soon as the effects fade.
Both practices are dangerous because the negative effects of Ecstasy also are much stronger.
This drug overload causes a massive and sudden imbalance in the brain. As a result, the brain works less efficiently.
Here is what can happen to your body in case of an overdose:
- A dangerously high blood pressure
- An extremely increased body temperature
- Damage to internal organs (kidney, heart, and brain)
- Seizures can occur, because the neurons are stimulated too much and are firing out of control
- All that can lead to panic attacks
- And eventually to a loss of consciousness
As you can see, these effects are severe. A heat stroke or a heart failure can lead to death.
So if you see someone showing these symptoms, immediately call an ambulance.
3-6 Hours Later: the ‘Come-Down’
After the drug molecules stopped acting, the body tries to get back to its normal state. During this time, you will experience withdrawal side effects of Ecstasy, basically the opposite of the drug’s effects.
- You will feel confused and sometimes paranoid
- Some people have the impression to float around their body (an out-of-body experience)
- You might have panic attacks
- You will have troubles with sleeping
- Be prepared to cravings for more Ecstasy: to get back to the previous rush or just stop the unpleasant withdrawal effect
Due the brain imbalance, you will feel depressed
Long-Term Effects of Ecstasy Abuse
Occasional exposure to MDMA gives times to the brain to get back to its normal state. The unpleasant effects usually reverse over time. But a continuous consumption of the drug doesn’t give the brain a chance to go back to its baseline activity. That means that the brain chemistry is continuously imbalanced, and some Ecstasy side effects in behavior begin to develop.
Several Days or Weeks of Taking MDMA
Psychological symptoms can be:
- You can suffer from sleeping disorders.
- You can become irritable and restless
- It is harder to control your emotions, and you become more impulsive and aggressive
- Lack of appetite and thirst can lead to weight loss and dehydration
- Lack of sexual arousal, physical contact is less pleasurable in general
- Mental abilities weaken, especially the capacity to concentrate and memory
- All that can make you feel anxious
At the same time, you will feel the following physical effects:
- Muscle tensions and cramps
- Teeth grinding and jaw clenching often have psychological reasons
- The body tries to deal with increased body temperature by sweating and chills
- High blood pressure is dangerous to the heart
- Feeling nauseous
- Your vision might be blurry
At this point, the risk of arrhythmia or heart failure and kidney failure is substantial. Remember that the heart and the kidney are vital organs. The stronger the doses, the more frequent and longer you use them – the greater the risk of also damaging brain tissue.
Several Months of Weekly Ecstasy Intake
After long-term consumption of Ecstasy, the previous side effects are getting stronger, and new ones can appear.
Psychological effects are now clearly visible to others:
- Damage to brain cells causes pronounced memory impairment
- Recurring confusion between reality and fiction
- Mood control is insufficient, and people burst out, become aggressive and behave impulsively.
- Anxiety and depression are present daily.
- Psychotic episodes are not uncommon
The body is dangerously affected:
- Prolonged problems with sleep do not help the weakened body to regenerate
- Kidney failure is a serious risk
- Hemorrhage and a cardiovascular collapse
- Convulsions are triggered more easily
- The body is so weak and overstimulated that death is a grave threat at any drug intake
Permanent Effects After Stopping Ecstasy
Stopping to take Ecstasy will in time restore the natural brain chemistry. The brain will have enough neurotransmitter molecules to be able to do its job. It all depends on the severity of the physical dependence and overall health, but after six weeks people usually don’t experience side effects anymore.
Studies on monkeys show that two weeks after high daily doses MDMA intake serotonin is almost entirely wiped out from the system. Its level increases gradually but doesn’t achieve its original levels even after seven years.
So during long-term MDMA abuse neurons were being destroyed and the brain structure changed. Most of the behavior and even physical health can return to normal, but some damages are irreversible.
You can expect a relatively normal life after quitting Ecstasy and taking care of your physical and mental health. But chances are very high, that your memory will never be the same.
In a Nutshell, What Are the Risks?
At first, you risk physical dependence, to wish the adverse withdrawal effects to go away.
Then you risk a psychological addiction, by craving to experience more drug rush.
After some days or weeks, your brain chemistry might be imbalanced and your behavior less under control. It will last as long as you have the drug in your system or your brain has not recovered the right amount of neurotransmitters. You might experience temporary emotional and memory impairments.
After several months of exposure, your brain structure irreversibly changes. Being regularly exposed to Ecstasy, the brain did not have a chance to recover its neurotransmitters. Nerve cells were damaged, so that memory and other cognitive functions significantly decrease. By that time, other organs could deteriorate, like the heart and the kidneys.
Always, when being under the drug influence, you risk physical danger. Ecstasy tempers vital signals from your body and you can quickly fatigue your heart, your kidneys or cause a heat exhaustion. So, without paying attention, even a first time user risks straining these organs. And too much can be fatal. And even a first time user can risk an overdose or torment the drained body to death.
Also, pregnant women taking Ecstasy affect their child’s growth. Some women don’t know about their pregnancy and stop taking drugs as soon as they find out. But the damage is done.
Babies exposed at any point during pregnancy to MDMA have a poorer motor control and slower development than the average. At the age of 4 months, they were less coordinated and had slower and delayed movements.
What can you do?
- Rehab. Ideally, consider an inpatient clinic. You will get the best care 24h a day. You will under constant medical supervision and will avoid any temptation of relapse.
- Lifestyle. If you’re not ready for quitting, you can always improve your lifestyle.
- It is not going to remove the side effects, but it might reduce its speed and the overall impact.
- Even moderate but daily exercising makes your body stronger and your muscles leaner. Including your heart, which is also a muscle.
- If you make it a habit of drinking water regularly, the risk of physical harm gets lower. You will be less prone to dehydration and exhaustion, especially if you remember about it during parties. Just don’t drink it all at once. 2 liters a day distributed across the whole day is fine.
- Behavioral therapy will help you to understand why you started taking the drug in the first place. It might not make your addiction go away immediately. But the self-knowledge you gain will make you more aware of your choice and the reasons behind them.