Ecstasy Side Effects:
Brain imaging research in humans shows that Ecstasy causes injury to the brain, affecting neurons that use the chemical serotonin to communicate with other neurons. The serotonin system plays a direct role in regulating mood, aggression, sexual activity, sleep, and sensitivity to pain. Many Ecstasy side effects are similar to those found with the use of cocaine and amphetamines: Psychological Ecstasy side effects, including confusion, depression, sleep problems, drug craving, severe anxiety, and paranoia - during and sometimes weeks after taking Ecstasy. Physical Ecstasy side effects brought on by use of the drug include muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, rapid eye movement, faintness, and chills or sweating. Increases in heart rate and blood pressure can also be experienced by Ecstasy users, and there is a special risk for people with circulatory or heart disease.
There is evidence that Ecstasy users who develop a rash that looks like acne after using Ecstasy may be risking severe side effects, including liver damage, if they continue to use Ecstasy. Research associates Ecstasy use with long-term damage to those parts of the brain critical to thought and memory. One study, in primates, showed that exposure to Ecstasy for 4 days caused brain damage that was evident 6 to 7 years later.
MDA, the parent drug of MDMA (Ecstasy), is a commonly abused amphetamine-like drug that is similar in chemical structure to Ecstasy. Research shows that MDA also destroys serotonin-producing neurons in the brain. Ecstasy is also similar to methamphetamine in its structure and effects, which has been shown to cause degeneration of neurons containing the neurotransmitter dopamine. Damage to these neurons is the underlying cause of the motor disturbances seen in Parkinson's disease. Symptoms of this disease begin with lack of coordination and tremors and can eventually result in a form of paralysis.
The Short-Term Side Effects of Ecstasy
While Ecstasy is not as addictive as heroin or cocaine, it can cause severe adverse effects including nausea, hallucinations, chills, sweating, increases in body temperature, tremors, involuntary teeth clenching, muscle cramping, and blurred vision. Ecstasy users also report after-effects of anxiety, paranoia, and depression.
Short-term side effects of Ecstasy
The effects of Ecstasy use start after about 20 minutes and can last for hours. Upon using Ecstasy, there is a 'rush' feeling, followed by a feeling of calm and a sense of well being to those around you, often with a heightened perception of color and sound. Some Ecstasy users actually feel sick and experience a stiffening up of arms, legs and particularly the jaw along with sensations of thirst, sleeplessness, depression and paranoia. Ecstasy has been known to gives the user a feeling of energy, and some mild hallucinogenic effects.
Ecstasy's chemical cousin, MDA, destroys cells that produce serotonin in the brain. These cells play a direct roll in regulating aggression, mood, sexual activity, sleep, and sensitivity to pain. Methamphetamine, also similar to Ecstasy, damages brain cells that produce dopamine. Scientists have now shown that Ecstasy not only makes the brain's nerve branches and endings degenerate, but also makes them re-grow, but abnormally - failing to reconnect with some brain areas and connecting elsewhere with the wrong areas. These reconnections may be permanent, resulting in cognitive impairments, changes in emotion, learning, memory, or hormone-like chemical abnormalities.
Long-Term Side Effects of Ecstasy
The side effects of long-term Ecstasy use are just coming to light through scientific analysis. In 1998, the National Institute of Mental Health conducted a study of a small group of habitual Ecstasy users who were abstaining from use. The study revealed that the abstinent Ecstasy users suffered damage to the neurons in the brain that transmit serotonin, an important biochemical involved in a variety of critical functions including learning, sleep, and integration of emotion. The results of the study have shown that recreational Ecstasy users may be at risk of developing permanent brain damage that may manifest itself in depression, anxiety, memory loss, and other neuropsychotic disorders.