Why Does Ecstasy Cause Dehydration, Increased Temperature, & More?

Ecstasy (MDMA) is an illicit synthetic drug that acts as a hallucinogen and stimulant. It produces an energizing effect and can distort time as well as perception. MDMA goes by various street names, including Molly, E, Ecstasy, Lover’s Speed, and XTC.1

This page will dive into the effects of ecstasy, the short and long-term side effects of ecstasy use, and how to find treatment options if you or someone you care about is struggling with ecstasy misuse or addiction.

Effects of Ecstasy (MDMA) Use

Ecstasy (MDMA) is considered a club drug/party drug that produces stimulant effects similar to the effects produced by amphetamines and hallucinogenic effects similar to those produced by mescaline.1,2 When taken orally, people generally begin to feel the intoxicating effects within 45 minutes of consuming MDMA.3

Although the notion of molly being “pure” is a misconception, the assumption that ecstasy is commonly laced with other substances is, in fact, valid. Ecstasy tablets frequently contain other substances including:4,5

These combinations can be very harmful and lead to dangerous situations when MDMA is purposely or unknowingly mixed with multiple drugs.6 Furthermore, some people mix MDMA with alcohol and marijuana, leading to an even higher risk of adverse health effects.6

MDMA interacts with the body by increasing motor activity, blood pressure, heart rate, alertness, etc. Adverse side effects include:

  • Hyperthermia.6
  • Increased perspiration.6
  • Nausea.6
  • Dehydration.6
  • Muscle cramps.6
  • Tremors.6
  • Involuntary teeth clenching.6
  • Faintness.6
  • Blurred vision.6
  • Chills.6
  • Panic attacks.3

In severe cases, MDMA can also cause a loss of consciousness and seizures.3 As a club drug, MDMA is often consumed before or during vigorous physical activity for long periods in warm environments, leading to significant adverse effects, including hyperthermia and dehydration.3

What is Hyperthermia from Ecstasy?

MDMA can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate temperature. This can lead to a sharp increase in body temperature, also known as hyperthermia.1

Hyperthermia is very dangerous and potentially fatal and can also result in:

  • Liver failure.1
  • Kidney failure.1
  • Cardiovascular system failure.1

MDMA is also often used (either intentionally or unintentionally) in combination with other substances that affect body temperature.8 For example, combining MDMA and alcohol increases the existing risk of adverse effects and could increase the risk of MDMA dehydration.9 Ecstasy is often adulterated with methamphetamine and bath salts, both of which can contribute to or worsen hyperthermia.

To lower body temperature, treatment of hyperthermia involves external cooling methods including ice packs, cold water baths, cooling blankets, and foley catheters.10

Ecstasy Dehydration and Increased Perspiration

Severe dehydration can occur from the combination of the effects of ecstasy/molly, increased perspiration from hyperthermia, and the hot and crowded party conditions where people often take the drug. 12

As a result, some people may consume large amounts of water to reduce the risks of hyperthermia and dehydration.10 This can lead to drinking more water than the body can process, also known as hyponatremia. Too much water in your system creates an electrolyte and serum sodium imbalance in the body which risks a buildup of fluid around the brain. 13

Signs of hyponatremia include:12

  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Headaches.
  • Altered mental status.

Hyponatremia can be fatal if left untreated. It can also lead to:12

  • Seizures.
  • Brain stem herniation.
  • Coma.

Long Term Effects of Ecstasy

Repeated ecstasy use over long periods can lead to serious health conditions from drug use.

For example, the perception and pleasure-altering effects of ecstasy (MDMA) may affect decision making and lead to unsafe sexual behavior. This can lead to a greater risk of contracting or transmitting chronic diseases hepatitis, HIV, and other sexually transmitted infections (STI). 6

People can experience the following symptoms over the course of a week following moderate use of MDMA: 6

  • Anxiety.
  • Depression.
  • Aggression and impulsiveness.
  • Irritability.
  • Problems with sleep.
  • Attention and memory issues.
  • Decreased appetite.

Studies on the chronic use of MDMA have found that it damage the serotonin system in the brain.1 Serotonin is a brain chemical that affects sleep, appetite, mood, and hormones that influence trust and sexual arousal.1,5 There is some evidence that indicates that the neurotoxic effects of long-term MDMA use may contribute to impairment in memory, information processing, problem-solving – among other deficits – which all involve functions of serotonin.14

Ecstasy Misuse Help

Using MDMA in any form can lead to potentially life-threatening health risks, including ecstasy dehydration and hyperthermia. If you or a loved one use MDMA, you may benefit from a drug rehab program.

Sunrise House Treatment Center is a drug rehab in Lafayette, NJ, specializing in drug and alcohol addiction treatment.  Our industry-accredited program offers supervised medical detoxification, residential addiction treatment, and rehab aftercare planning.

Each patient at Sunrise House participates in various evidence-based group and individual therapies to equip each patient with the tools they need to live healthy and long-term sober lives. For more information on rehab admissions, using health insurance to pay for rehab, and other rehab payment options, reach out to an admissions navigator available 24/7 at .

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