Author: James Anderson

MDMA and the Brain: Is Ecstasy Neurotoxic?

can molly cause brain damage

Interestingly, Potter and colleagues found that the average depression level (as measured by the Beck Depression Inventory) was 13.35 in people who used MDMA, 7 points higher than that of non-drug users (2013). Although this difference was not large enough to be significant, it is still important to note since MDMA users commonly report low mood. Assumption 1 has been disproven; pre drug-use rates of mental illness in ecstasy users are higher than those of non-drug users as well as users of other categories of drugs. Assumption 2 cannot easily be disproven, but is unlikely to be true.

Human brain scan research on ‘ecstasy’ users has continued at an ever-increasing pace since this study, and not one of them has produced anything remotely like these results. Even though MDMA doesn’t necessarily have addictive properties like some other drugs, such as cocaine or methamphetamine, there’s still the potential for substance misuse. And chronic, heavy use of MDMA may even have long-term effects — especially on serotonin in the brain. When you call our helpline, you’ll be connected with a representative who can assist you in finding mental health and addiction treatment resources at any of the Ark Behavioral Health addiction treatment facilities. MDMA-assisted therapy is a therapeutic approach that uses MDMA as a tool within a controlled and supervised therapeutic setting.

People experimenting with it should be medically knowledgeable and have a support system in place to provide immediate emergency medical attention if a problem arises. For example, 1 to 2 weeks following binge-dosing with MDMA (three or four low doses in one day), rats showed decreased expression of the serotonin transporter,13,97 a protein that allows cells to take up and recycle released serotonin. The rats also showed changes in the expression of genes that regulate tryptophan hydroxylase, an enzyme involved in serotonin synthesis. In summary, people, especially young people, choose MDMA as their drug of choice due to its stimulating effects. The increased energy for doing their basic life activities makes MDMA as a drug of choice. However, these effects are satisfactorily detrimental to our body systems, particularly neuronal cells.

MDMA and the Brain: A Short Review on the Role of Neurotransmitters in Neurotoxicity

Yes, there is a modest change to your brain after using MDMA that seems to last for about three to four weeks, give or take. It’s not permanent, and there’s no reason to believe it involves damage; rather, it appears to be a sort of ‘hangover’ effect caused by your brain’s reaction to being exposed to a drug. No topic related to MDMA has caused as much controversy as the claim that it damages user’s brains. The short answer is that science has proven (at least in my opinion) that moderate MDMA use does not cause any lasting harm.

  1. In animal studies, MDMA has consistently shown to be toxic to serotonin structures.
  2. At the least, it was dishonest to characterize this case simply as an example of “MDMA-induced Parkinsonism” with no mention of the extraordinarily tenuous and speculative nature of the proposed causal link between the patient’s drug use and his neurological symptoms.
  3. However, in a clinical study, the brain imaging studies on MDMA users had been drug-free for 20 weeks or longer have not revealed less serotonin transporter binding levels in the brain (Buchert et al., 2003).
  4. Antioxidants are part of the body’s natural defense system against such damage.
  5. This sort of problem is especially great when testing drug users for cognitive effects, because not only do they know if they’re in the control group or not, they probably have some idea of what the researchers expect the result to be.
  6. According to the review, both animal and human studies found that MDMA can negatively affect the serotonergic systems in the brain.

Cognitive behavioral therapy and other forms of talk therapy can be highly effective for many people, but people with PTSD or other mental health conditions may also find that traditional treatments do not bring them relief. While the drug was initially thought to cause immediate dependence and pose a high risk to public health, current studies no longer indicate for sure that MDMA can cause addiction. In rats, these effects include reduced expression of the serotonin transporter responsible for recycling serotonin and changes in genes that regulate serotonin production.

If you’re living with an MDMA addiction and want to regain control, consider seeking professional help by consulting a healthcare professional or an addiction specialist. The risk of severe health complications, such as hyperthermia, cardiovascular issues, and even death, increases with overdosing or consuming impure substances. MDMA-assisted therapy shows promise in treating conditions such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Cognitive changes in ecstasy users

Regarding the long-term effects of MDMA exposure, it was proven that MDMA could reduce the level of serotonin in the cerebrospinal fluid of rats (Mueller et al., 2009; Mustafa et al., 2018). However, some researchers have suggested that MDMA may be able to cause a long-term 5-HT down-regulation without causing structural damage to serotonin neurons (Kish, 2002). MDMA-induced serotonin deficit has been interpreted as neurotoxicity. Unfortunately, there is still an ongoing debate on whether the deficit of serotonin reflects damage to the neurons (Baumann, Wang & Rothman, 2007).

can molly cause brain damage

MDMA misuse can deplete serotonin levels, leading to negative effects on mood, memory, and thinking ability. Prolonged or heavy MDMA use can result in persistent changes in your brain’s serotonin system. Regular overuse of MDMA use has been linked to confusion, depression, anxiety, paranoia, and difficulties with memory and attention.

1. Effects of MDMA on neuronal damage

MDMA primarily increases the release of serotonin and norepinephrine. Serotonin is crucial for regulating mood, sleep, pain, appetite, and other functions, and the increased release of serotonin contributes to MDMA’s mood-elevating effects. By boosting levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, MDMA produces feelings of euphoria, increased sociability, and heightened senses.

At the end of the day, I am wholly unmoved when Billy Bob the psychologist publishes an article claiming evidence of neurotoxicity because his ecstasy-using volunteers were not identical to his non-drug using volunteers. There is an ocean of confounds that must be bridged to make such conclusions credible, especially in light of the strong evidence of no permanent structural changes in user’s brains. The quality of retrospective human research has, however, been increasing over the years; with luck, the future may bring more substantive work. ‘Ecstasy’ users, statistically speaking, are not normal to start with. If only on the grounds of the sheer novelty of the results from this particular dosage regimen it seems presumptuous to declare equivalency to human users until some explanation can be offered for the sharp divergence of results between these two experiments. Most of the recent studies and suggestions regarding the targeted treatment for MDMA abuse have focused on attenuating the neurotoxicity and neurotransmitters excitotoxicity in the brain.

How Does MDMA Affect the Brain and Body?

Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance can cause irreversible damage to the heart, brain, and kidneys.