MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly)

This post originally appeared on MedLine Plus.

MDMA can cause negative health effects, some potentially serious. Its effects depend on the amount used, the purity of MDMA taken, and where and how a person is taking it. Using MDMA with other substances such as alcohol or some prescription drugs, including selective serotonin uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), may increase the risk of negative health effects.5  Health risks associated with using MDMA include:

Potentially Dangerous Effects in the Body

Negative health effects of taking MDMA may include higher blood pressure, involuntary jaw clenching, nausea, vomiting, and restless legs. While deaths associated with MDMA use are rare, taking it can also lead to more severe side effects. People can experience a dangerously steep rise in body temperature, called hyperpyrexia, particularly if they are very physically active or are in a warm environment such as a club.6  Long-term MDMA use can also lead to heart problems or liver damage.2

Changes in Mood and Brain Function

MDMA use has been associated with anxiety and panic attacks.4 Studies have shown that people who regularly use MDMA may experience poor sleep, a lack of appetite, confusion, depression, anxiety, paranoia, and memory or attention problems.2

Contamination With Other Drugs

Chemical analyses of drugs sold as MDMA have shown that they may be adulterated, meaning they contain other types of drugs, perhaps without the purchaser knowing it. These hidden ingredients have included ketamine, amphetamine, synthetic cathinones (“bath salts”), 3,4-methylinedioxy-amphetamine (MDA), and methamphetamine.7

Taking an adulterated drug can lead to unexpected and unwelcome side effects and may increase its potential health risks. Over the past decade, illegally made opioids like fentanyl have been increasingly found in the drug supply, and have contributed to a dramatic rise in drug overdose deaths in the United States. Learn more about ways to test drugs for hidden ingredients.

Harms During Pregnancy

Only a few studies have examined the effects of prenatal MDMA exposure, but evidence suggests that children born to people who took MDMA during pregnancy had an increased risk of birth defects, including heart problems and developmental delays in motor skills like standing and walking.8,9 

This post originally appeared on MedLine Plus.