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

can molly cause brain damage

People typically use MDMA in social settings, at parties, or at music festivals to enhance mood and increase sociability and sensation. People also often use it alongside alcohol or other drugs, which may enhance the negative effects. However, the excessive serotonin release results in significant short-term depletion of serotonin in your brain.

This can include damage to nerves and neurons, which are responsible for communicating signals (messages) in the brain. Neurotoxins can be found in a variety of substances such as heavy metals, pesticides, and drugs. The severity of neurotoxicity depends on the substance and how it is consumed. There is a significant range in how these neurotoxins affect us, and how much they harm our bodies and functioning (Robertson, 2019). fda drug safety communication It could also be that the oxidative strain placed on the axon by MDMA’s breakdown (if MDMA itself is indeed the culprit) is enough to increase the rate of SERT breakdown, causing levels of SERT to decline as ‘wear and tear’ on them exceeds the rate of replacement. Regardless of the mechanism, SERTs come back as long as the axon is still there…and there is good reason to believe the axons are still there in these people.

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MDMA does not normally cause significant increases in body temperature in humans; a significant increase in body temp is abnormal and should be treated immediately. Due to its impact on the serotonin system, recreational use of MDMA can have significant and lasting effects on your brain, resulting in emotional and cognitive challenges that extend beyond the immediate experience. Research in rodents indicates that binge-dosing with MDMA (taking multiple moderate to high doses in 1 day) can have notable effects on the serotonin system, which may have implications for people who use the drug. In human studies, researchers found that MDMA use could cause changes in verbal, visual, and short-term memory, reasoning, and recognition. Chronic MDMA use may even occasionally cause conditions like psychosis ― though other psychiatric conditions arising from using MDMA are rare.

Researchers in the ‘ecstasy users have worse memories’ field tend to ignore this problem. Those that do make some effort to control this effect usually do no more than ask volunteers not to use for two weeks and give urine test for drugs the day of testing. However, all research indicates that MDMA can subtly affect the mind for at least 3-4 weeks, and urine drug tests only detect use within the past few days. MDMA’s effects on serotonin, a key player in all hallucinogenic drugs, accounts alcohol detox diet eating healthy during alcohol withdrawal for its users’ increased sensitivity to music and appreciation of light shows, reflecting the drug’s popularity at raves. Its stimulation of norepinephrine and dopamine release may explain the euphoria and increased energy users experience, and increased cortisol levels are implicated in decreasing fatigue. The prosocial effects—the desire to socialize and bond with others— have been linked, though controversially, to MDMA’s effects on brain concentrations of the hormone oxytocin.

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can molly cause brain damage

But while MDMA is commonly considered a “party” drug, some research has found that chronic MDMA use may potentially cause long-term mental and physical health effects. Our helpline is open, and our staff is ready to provide information on addiction treatment options for you or your loved one. After detox, a substance abuse treatment program can help a person gain insight into the nature of their addiction, and how to achieve and maintain sobriety. Hyperthermia is a spike in body temperature that cannot be regulated without medical attention.

3. Previous studies on the therapeutic targets for MDMA toxicity

Volunteers taking MDMA, under carefully controlled conditions, improved in their recognition of positive emotions; but their performance in recognizing negative emotions declined. In other words, they incorrectly attributed positive or neutral feelings to images that were actually negative in emotional tone. If Ricaurte et al have additional information about this case that was unavailable to the doctors treating the patient, they have made no mention of it. Looking back at the first pair of images, you’ll notice two blobs floating on one side of the ‘healthy’ image. The eyes do not appear in the other image, suggesting that different settings have been used–settings that would hide more of the scan’s data. In fact, those two images could possibly have been generated from the same scan of the same person, merely rendered differently.

  1. MDMA’s effects on serotonin, a key player in all hallucinogenic drugs, accounts for its users’ increased sensitivity to music and appreciation of light shows, reflecting the drug’s popularity at raves.
  2. We do not receive any compensation or commission for referrals to other treatment facilities.
  3. Data reported by the United Nations on Drugs and Crime on the total number of drug addicts worldwide shows the increasing number of drug users every year.

Now…would you care to take a guess as to what miscreant produced this bit of scientifically suspect but loved-by-the-government ‘research’? How it causes this strangely precise damage has been the subject of a lot of speculation and debate. Given the selectivity of the damage, it seemed likely that something that was damaging to the axons was being concentrated within them. Furthermore, ketoprofen treatment has reduced the decreased number of parvalbumin-positive GABA interneurons in the DG of the hippocampus upon repeated MDMA administrations. However, the ketoprofen, unfortunately, did not prevent the 5-HT depletion in the hippocampus (Anneken et al., 2013).

A more radical approach is the use of the MAOI L-Deprenyl (Selegiline), which has proven to be extremely effective in preventing MDMA neurotoxicity in lab animals and does not interfere with MDMA’s desired activity. In theory, Deprenyl is arguably the most potentially effective neuroprotective regimen, but more work needs to be done before any substantive statement on safety can be made. 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. 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.

Examining the Evidence

Ecstasy, which has been a mainstay on the party scene since the early 1990s, is now one of the most commonly used illegal drugs. In fact, over 18 million Americans have reported using MDMA at least once in their lifetime (SAMHSA, 2017). Since this drug has become so widespread, it is important from an individual and public health standpoint to understand both the difference between crack and coke short- and long-term effects of its use. This article will explore these issues, as well as providing resources for safer ecstasy consumption. The patient did not respond to “the maximal tolerated doses of levodopa and pramipexole”, leaving the fundamental assumption of damage to the dopaminergic system as the source of the patient’s problems very much in doubt.

can molly cause brain damage

Are we to believe that the range of normal for human brains has this much spread in it? I may be a foot taller than some people…but I’m not twenty times taller than anybody. The immediate conclusion is that there was something fundamentally flawed in the research. Maybe the brain scan technology they used just didn’t work properly…it was a relatively new technique at the time. The toxicity effects induced by MDMA made the researchers motivated to explore its potential treatments.

What Effects Does Molly (MDMA) Have On The Brain?

Disrupting them with molly can cause significant, and sometimes permanent, brain damage and impairment. Recently, however, MDMA’s capacity to mitigate negative perceptions while enhancing openness has led it to be reconsidered for psychotherapy in general and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder in particular. The traumatized patient needs to encounter distressing memories until they gradually lose their power. It is hoped that MDMA might make bad memories less vivid, while increasing feelings of safety and trust.

Serotonin System Damage From Molly Abuse

And finally, the axon’s supply of antioxidants must be largely exhausted. 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.

The effects of self-medication with MDMA

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. According to the review, there has been some evidence to suggest that MDMA may be beneficial for conditions like anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For example, several studies included in the review found that MDMA was able to produce long lasting reductions in severe PTSD symptoms.


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