Ecstasy long term effects

Recreational ecstasy use over the long-term may lead to lasting brain damage and bring on other physical and psychological health risks. More about the long term effects of ecstasy (MDMA), here.

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The immediate effects of ecstasy vary and depend on a persons size, weight, general health state, whether they have a tolerance to ecstasy, and whether other substances (prescription meds, illicit drugs, and/or alcohol) are taken around the same time.

What are the long term effects of ecstasy use? How can taking ecstasy long term damage your health? In the long run, there is no safe amount of ecstasy to be used. Over a prolonged period of time, ecstasy changes a person’s brain chemistry and can seriously damage the function of crucial body organs. More about the long term effects of ecstasy here, with a section at the end for your questions and comments.

Long term effects of ecstasy use

MDMA produces long-term deficits in serotonin function in the brain. Serotonin function is an implicated cause of many psychiatric disorders which include depression and anxiety. This suggests that ecstasy users may experience more psychopathology than non-users. Moreover, evidence from studies on monkeys show that even seven years after a brief exposure to ecstasy, serotonin levels in monkeys’ brains have not fully returned to normal. We give examples of animal studies because of the poor number of tests on human brain damage.

Ecstasy use has been linked to some serious physical injuries such as liver, kidney and heart problems, as well as significant immune system weakening from staying awake for long periods of time and stressing the body.

Long term effects of ecstasy on the brain

When people use ecstasy chronically over a longer period of time, there may be changes in their brain chemistry that suggest that the serotonin neurons are damaged. One major clue is that serotonin itself and its metabolites are diminished in the brain. Long-lasting brain side effects from ecstasy can affect your thought and memory. Other CNS (central nervous system) damages from ecstasy use, include:

  • brain damage
  • convulsions
  • degenerated nerve branches and nerve endings
  • dependency syndrome
  • drug craving
  • reduction of overall brain mass

Just like other similar mind-altering substances, the use of ecstasy has been associated with impaired mental health and impaired judgement. Heavy ecstasy users experience a number of psychiatric changes, which may persist for a period after cessation of the drug. These may include:

  • anxiety
  • confusion
  • depression
  • disturbed sleep
  • disturbing emotional reactions
  • impaired memory and trouble learning
  • low mood and irritability
  • paranoid thoughts
  • scoring significantly higher on measures of obsessive traits

Long term effects of ecstasy on the body

Ecstasy is associated with extensive periods of physical activity because it’s usually used at clubs during raves or at festivals. This can lead to one of the most significant, although rare, acute adverse effects hyperthermia, or overheating. Also, dehydration, hypertension, and heart failure may occur in susceptible individuals.


Ecstasy has the ability to reduce the pumping efficiency of the heart. This side effects is of particular concern during periods of increased physical activity, such as at dance parties where the drug is most commonly used, which further complicates the problem. The long-term physical effects on the heart of using ecstasy include:

  • cardiotoxicity
  • cardiovascular collapse
  • heart failure
  • hemorrhaging
  • increase in heart rate, leading to serious complications for people with cardiovascular disease

Blood pressure

Once administered, ecstasy is rapidly absorbed into the human bloodstream where the drug’s metabolites interfere with the natural ability of your body to break it down. As a result, additional doses of ecstasy, also known as “stacking”, can produce unexpectedly high blood levels, which could worsen the cardiovascular and other toxic effects of the drug.


Ecstasy is toxic to the kidneys. And, in many cases recreational use of ecstasy has led to some form of medical intervention. It is indicated that the hyperthermia (increase in body tremperature) caused by ecstasy is responsible for kidney damage in users.


The numbers of ecstasy users who have suffered from liver damage as a direct cause of recreational use of the drug is small. It is believed that one of the leading causes of liver damage is a compromised immune system, which is a side effect of long term ecstasy use. However, it is still not confirmed whether liver toxicity is caused by the drug itself, or by other substances found in ecstasy tablets.

Respiratory system

Crushing ecstasy pills and insulating the powder can cause burns in your nose and mouth, which can hurt the rest of your respiratory system. Ecstasy use can also lead to collapsed lungs and/or asthma. Excessive snorting leads to:

  • damage of the nose mucose
  • common nosebleeds
  • holes in your nose
  • nose becomes soft from the drug eating the cartilage

Ecstasy effects on pregnancy and fetal development

Ecstasy has the ability to pass from the mother’s body and into the fetus through the placenta. Normal prenatal and infant development can be affected by ecstasy exposure. The use of ecstasy during pregnancy also appeared to affect the sex of the babies born; male births are more common among women who used ecstasy while pregnant.

A great concern is ecstasy’s properties for depleting the level of serotonin, which is important for gross motor control among other functions. Early in fetal development, serotonin plays a vital role in brain formation.

Ecstasy use during pregnancy can lead to:

  • altered brain development in the first trimester
  • newborn behavior changes
  • delaying of the normal motor functions in the mid and late stages of pregnancy
  • long-term learning and memory problems

Long term effects of ecstasy addiction

Addicted or psychologically dependent ecstasy users report symptoms including:

  1. Continued use despite knowledge of physical or psychological harm.
  2. Tolerance or diminished response to previously effective doses.
  3. Withdrawal effects from ecstasy (fatigue, loss of appetite, depressed feelings, and trouble concentrating).
  4. Failed attempts to quit using ecstasy.
  5. Trying to control use, but ending up taking more than intended.
  6. Giving up important work, school, home and other activities due to ecstasy use.

But, the side effects of being addicted to ecstasy don’t end here. Ecstasy addiction can take its toll on your general health state, your financial stability, your relationships with close family and friends, your criminal record, etc.

Can ecstasy long term effects damage you permanently?

It is unlikely that the psychological side-effects of using ecstasy are permanent. However, research on animals (and less definitive research in humans) does point to the conclusion that taking ecstasy over the long-term may lead to lasting brain damage.

Long term effects of ecstasy questions

Got anything to ask or add? Please send us your questions and comments via the designated section at the bottom of the page. We appreciate your feedback and try to answer to all legitimate inquiries personally and promptly. In case we don’t know the answer to a question, we will gladly refer you to professionals who can help.

Reference Sources: DrugAbuse: Long-term effects of ecstasy: Neurotoxic?
DrugAbuse: Long-term ecstasy use may impair memory
DrugAbuse: Is MDMA Addictive?
NIDA: MDMA/Ecstasy Research: Advances, Challenges, Future Directions
Mydr: Ecstasy effects on the body
Stopteendui: Short and Long Term Effects
Casemed: First and Only Study on Harmful Effects of Infants Prenatally Exposed to Ecstasy
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. Hi there I was just wondering I took ecstasy for five years on weakends mostly, I been suffering depression ever since,even after twenty years of non use. I get irritated and my mood change alot I am on antidepressant at the moment it helps a little been taking them for 3 years now but still have bad depressive episodes and physical pain. I think by using this type of drug and the long term side effects of it just not worth it.I would like to see more trials on humans not just animals this drug is very dangerous and poeple should know what they are dealing with specifically in the long term. At the moment I am taking antidepressant and I have concerns if they are even helping or would make it worse later on, they got their own side effects and with my background I dont think they would work to well. There is not a lot info on this subject hope I am not playing Russian rolet by taking antidepressant but I have been going to a psychiatrist and he says antidepressant work differently on the brain than mdma what is your thoughts on this.I thought both drugs work on serrtonin.Thanks for hearing me out sorry about the spelling.

  2. Hey me and my girlfriend had a weekend experience with mdma last weekend we started Friday night with my cousin at around 11 done it all night that night decided to stay up Saturday and do it some more then by Saturday night we was all pretty messed up so we all went to bed needless to say we didn’t get much sleep that night maybe 2 hours for me and my girl then the next day I just laid around miserable all day but my girlfriend decided it was a good idea to do some more so she could get out of her hangover and get some house work done she didn’t do much a couple bumps but that night she started convulsing and couldn’t sleep still of course and the convulsing wouldn’t go away she called into work and stayed home feeling terrible I went to work and when I came home she was still in the same state. I sat there with her hoping for it to go away but it never did so that night we went to the hospital and they flushed her system which got her significantly better she could sleep then and the convulsions we’re pretty much gone but still there that was Monday today is Thursday and she still has slight convulsions in her feet and says she can’t get energy and having a hard time focusing and says she don’t feel herself she is still feeling the effects and come down and I’m just starting to worry it’s gonna be a permanent difference in her and I’d like to know from what I’ve wrote (sorry if it’s hard to understand) do you think it’s something permanent or just the comedown taking forever to go away. It has gotten better since but it’s still not completely gone

  3. Leon
    Where do I begin.. your experiences may have fun and seem harmlless. But having exceptionally long term experience myself …going back to the late 90’s ..I can tell you that despite the lack of “if this then that” style research .. there is no safe amount of use either in quantity or quality. Every body is different thusly every one is impacted to a different degree.. I will tell you definitively that you either experienced a toxic amount in your body or were exposed to another common substance in pills such as mda. There is enormous risk in exposure to any non regulated drug. As such no way you can know without testing the chemical makeup. All that aside.. your body may still just decide that this is the last time you can “handle” it.. first off stop using don’t be like me where 20 yrs of friends are either dead or still in jail..
    Here is what you can do .. change your expectations to that of something out of your control.. exercise. Make a point of good habits and good nutrition… yes that sounds lame as f***. But you have altered your brain chemistry as well as affected the mechanisms that produce and repair the same brain chemistry.. for me it took several years.. and after much research I’ve hypothesized that your feelings are in part a result of upsetting your brains chemical baseline.. so this is the new normal for a while until when or if your brain heals.. hopefully you didn’t do too much damage to your organs during the bad or hot roll..All these years later I still struggle with what a happy feeling is.. But I’m better now than I was better than I deserve to be..But never the same as I was.. your best medicine is good rewarding productive behaviour..while there is still time…


  4. It has been 10 years since I had a huge ecstasy addiction. I did about 30 pills a week for a year and a half straight. I’m a 100 pound female 27 years old and the effects still affect me til today. I have very bad social anxiety and terrible memory. I came here trying to figure out what exactly it did to my nerves and body and brain so that I can start to heal it. Do you know if it affects dopamine levels? When I take xanax it works great and xanax raises the GABA in the brain so I probably have low gaba too. My hands are still really shaky. There’s a few natural remedies that have worked over the years but I’m going to start really being healthy now and healing my nerves through holistic measures cause I’m sick of this. Fortunately it never gave me depression I’m always super happy and have lots of friends but my anxiety sure sucks sometimes.

  5. Hi there. I read this post and many others about the negative effects of molly. I went to a rave for the first time about 3 months ago and took Molly for the first time there. Over a span of about 6 hours I took 3 points, roughly 300 mg I believe. That was the first time I’ve ever done It and the last time. Since then though I have not felt like my self. I don’t feel as confident or as sharp, and have been irritable and had anxiety at times. I’m starting to worry that one night of use has damaged my brian permanently. On the other hand I might be worrying too much about It and psyching myself out. I was just hoping to get an opinion on It, and whether or not I should really be concerned or am over thinking It. Thanks!

  6. Hi, I used ecstasy for a period of 3-4 years (averaging about 5-6 pills a year). I started using in 2007 and stopped in 2011 but it is 2017 now and i still fear that i suffer from the consequences. These include feeling over stimulated quite often (especially after an enthralling movie or music concert) to feeling like i’ve forgotten parts of my childhood (while other family members seem to have no problem remembering) to feeling highs and lows (i would feel great for 2 weeks and then pretty low for about 2 weeks constantly). Sometimes i’m constantly “over-stimulated” and feel the world is like a breeze passing by and i’m just flowing in it and not engaging. Also, i can be very slow and take a while to respond (Debates of any kind are hard!)
    Anyway, because these are all in the brain i can’t really know for sure what these symptoms mean (i mean, if it were physical, that’s great – i see the wound, i go and fix it and can visually see the improvemement but not so with the brain).
    I would love to test myself out to see if i’m ok but don’t know where to go. I was once on Aropax (SSRI anti-depressants) for a year and that helped. Anyway, bottom line is, it’s been atleast 5 years since i stopped completely but i seem to still have some of these symptoms. What do i do?

    1. Hi Roony. I suggest that you start with regular examinations from your doctor. Also, you may need to change your diet, practice mindful meditation, etc.

  7. I went to EDC last month. Night 1 consisted of 2 orange teslas; spaced out among 4 halves.
Thinking back that’s a lot! 500mg thoughout the night! I should have stopped there for a couple of months.
    Night 2, I felt like I almost died. I took 1 blue owl, a half a pink marshmallow, and then 1 Molly. I was mainly popping just to stay up at this point. I was starting to feel a little strange, but didn’t think much of it. So then I made a pretty dumb decision: chugged a margarita and drank a beer before one of the last sets of the night. Keep in mind vegas is HOT. During one of the sets I began to trip extremely hard. I felt light headed and abdomen discomfort. I knew something was wrong. I told my friend I was going to the restroom. I honestly felt like my organs were failing. I probably should have seeked medical attention. I knew I had to pee but it was so difficult to. It took me like an hour. I was losing my mind. I had to pour water on my head to keep myself from passing out. It was a terrible experience..
    Night 3 came along. I felt a little better but still shook from the night before. I said I’m done rolling and was going to stay sober the whole night.. *feeling completely wiped out. I stayed sober for a few sets. All my friends had popped a while ago and seemed fine. So around 12:30 am I said fuck it and popped half a tesla. I started to roll but it felt so minimal. Probably because I had such little serotonin left. I felt like at that point I sold my soul to the devil lol. I ended up taking the other half and having a pretty decent time. Then the final set of EDC came along. I was tired but I felt alright. Then we smoke a fat blunt.. also a terrible decision on my part.. it made me feel extremely paranoid and maybe slightly schizo. I remember when we were walking back to the car after the set.. I was hearing voices, like people were saying things to me when they weren’t. Like people from the crowd it was so weird and very uncomfortable. The weed had a bad effect with the roll because of the cumulative come down.
    Now it’s been about a month since and things have not been the same. I have suffered 2 extreme panic attacks. I feel foggy and spaced out. I got very sick and still am. Strep throat and bronchitis. I feel mentally unstable and slow. Looking back, I regret taking so much throughout one weekend.. I feel like I have damaged my body and my brain..

    I’ve rolled before. Never had these problems.. only thing was that I had never taken such heavy amounts in a single weekend. I’d have to say I took a little less than 1000mg throughout 3 days..

  8. Hi there just read this and wanted to ask a few question..
    Last year approx 7 to 8 months ago, I was using Transformers or armarni pills/ XTC…
    I first two experience’s we’re fabulous to be completely honest, But on my third attempt i took it a bit too far and ended up talking 9 one after the other..
    It was great at the time, But adventually after so many hours I was getting hot and cold as you do and then caught Hypethermia, My eyes went bloodshot and all around them was completely red, My insides felt like I was bleeding It was horrible, I stayed up the whole night As I couldn’t sleep..
    The next day my body didn’t feel as bad, I went home as I was at a friends house, And slowly tried to recover ( with only me knowing that this had happened ) I haven’t been to see any doctor to this day.. I have been experience some really strange feelings in my head, extreme pressure, Nausea, Massive loss of memory ( To the point I can’t remember what I did after 5 minutes ) Fuzzy senation of the left side of my head which is constantly, I get really light headed pretty much all the time.. It’s dreadfull but somehow I’m still trying my best to carry on with day to day things.. I would be over the moon to recieve some information and help on what I could do maybe just to make my life a little better as I’m a bit all over the place… I have been to the doctors and they did a blood test and everything is fine on the inside, It’s just my head..
    I haven’t seen a doctor and explained the symtoms as I’m not sure what to say or do… thank you very much! I will be very happy to wait for a reply, thanks, Leon…

    1. Hi Leon. It seems you took a lot… and all of these symptoms that you have listed are pretty serious and might cause serious damage to your health. Please be careful next time, and explore our ecstasy infographics to learn more about the effects of ecstasy.

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