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MDMA commonly-known as ecstasy or molly is a psychoactive drug primarily used for recreational purposes.

How will MDMA make me feel?

People who use MDMA describe themselves as feeling euphoric, open, accepting, unafraid, and connected to those around them.1 Typically used in social settings like festivals, concerts, and clubs, MDMA’s effects are stimulated by visuals, sounds smells and touch, leading to heightened sensations and a desire to intensify these feelings by dancing, talking, and touching.

A typical dose of 80 – 125 mg lasts three to six hours. Some people experience nausea at the outset, but after about 45 minutes, report feelings of relaxation and clarity. MDMA also causes dilation of the pupils and, often, sensitivity to light, as well as possible jaw-clenching, tooth-grinding, muscle tension, faintness, and chills or sweating.

After the drug wears off, the theory from preclinical studies is that brain levels of serotonin (a chemical responsible for maintaining mood balance) are depleted, which can lead in some cases to sadness, anxiety, depression, and sleep problems.2 If they occur, these symptoms arise in the several days that follow. Generally, they abate within a week, though the frequency of use and higher doses can slow or stop this process.3

What are the long-term health impacts of MDMA?

The long-term health impacts of MDMA are still under investigation, but several studies have found that substances like MDMA have a far lower potential to cause harm than legal drugs like alcohol.1

Some researchers suggest that slight brain changes may result from heavy use, such as impacts on memory,2 but the evidence is far from conclusive.3 In fact, MDMA use alone does not appear to cause cognitive differences between people who use it and those who do not.4 Evidence also shows that “[a]dverse effects decrease with… abstinence” (that is, the impacts start reversing themselves once you stop taking the drug).5

The main challenge of determining the long-term health effects of MDMA is that people who use it often take other drugs as well, making specific impacts very hard to isolate.