The side effects of ecstasy that appear in more than 50% of users are:
- Cognitive problems
- Inability to focus or concentrate.
- Unconscious jaw clenching while awake and teeth grinding during sleep.
- Dry mouth, thirst
- Augmented in some people by overheating and sweating, either due to the drug or activities while taking ecstasy.
- Loss of appetite.
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure – this may also be related to activities users prefer while taking the drug, such as extended periods of dancing.
Learn More About Ecstasy Addiction, Risks, and Treatment Options
Psychological effects of MDMA
Because ecstasy acts on both the serotonin and dopamine receptor systems in the brain, multiple dosing affects normal brain function. The usual levels of these neurotransmitters are no longer enough. In a sense, the brain is ‘trained’ to expect the effects of ecstasy.
The same mechanisms that cause the desired, pleasant effects also change the brain’s response to normal levels of these neurotransmitters. The result is that when the drug is not present, the following symptoms emerge:
- May be severe enough to require treatment. One hallmark of ecstasy withdrawal is a deep sadness coupled with depression.
- Fatigue and loss of motivation
- Especially difficult when coupled with depression.
- Exhaustion coupled with insomnia
- Leads to mental impairment while awake, including confusion and memory problems.
Acute problems can occur because ecstasy is manufactured and sold illegally. There are no controls in place to guarantee purity or dose. This means the actual substance taken might not be ecstasy at all. Methamphetamine is sometimes substituted because it is both cheaper and mimics some of the effects. Other substances might be LSD or another hallucinogen or even a high dose of caffeine or ephedrine.
People who are on prescription drugs that affect the same neurotransmitter systems are at risk of fatal overdose. Particularly, MAOIs (Monamine Oxidase Inhibitors) like Nardil and Parnate.
Severe dehydration often occurs in ecstasy users. They are usually physically active in a hot, crowded environment and the drug masks the normal feelings of fatigue and thirst until it may be too late.