Ecstasy side effects may range from minimal impact to potentially being fatal. When a user takes the drug, they begin to experience its effects within thirty minutes or so and continue to feel them for hours. While on ecstasy the user feels a “rush” followed by a sense of calmness and well being. They also experience a heightened perception of color and sound.
While ecstasy is not as addictive as heroin or methamphetamine, its side effects can be just as intense. Many of the ecstasy side effects faced by users are similar to those found with the use of cocaine and amphetamines including nausea, hallucinations, chills, sweating, increases in body temperature, tremors, involuntary teeth clenching, muscle cramping, blurred vision, anxiety, paranoia, and depression. There is also risk for those people who develop a rash that looks like acne after using ecstasy. When this occurs, there is evidence that users may be risking severe side effects, including liver damage, if they continue to use the drug.
Ecstasy users report ecstasy side effects of bruxism (teeth grinding) and trisma (jaw clenching) as short-term effects from the drug. Many users attempt to alleviate this by using chewing gum. However, this can result in temporary mouth ulcers through inadvertent biting of the mouth lining. Temporary jaw ache often results from jaw clenching or excessive chewing. Some users even consume supplemental magnesium tablets to relax the jaw muscles and relieve clenching.
Research links ecstasy use to long-term damage in parts of the brain that are critical to thought and memory. One study, in primates, showed that exposure to ecstasy for a period of 4 days caused brain damage that was evident 6 to 7 years later. Brain imaging research in humans indicates that ecstasy causes injury to the brain, affecting neurons that use the chemical serotonin to communicate with other neurons. The serotonin system plays a direct role in regulating mood, aggression, sexual activity, sleep, and sensitivity to pain.
Ecstasy side effects from long-term use are just beginning to undergo scientific analysis. In 1998, the National Institute of Mental Health conducted a study on a small group of habitual ecstasy users who were abstaining from use. The study revealed that the abstinent users suffered damage to the neurons in the brain that transmit serotonin, an important biochemical involved in a variety of critical functions including learning, sleep, and integration of emotion. The results of the study indicate that recreational ecstasy users may be at risk of developing permanent brain damage that may manifest itself in depression, anxiety, memory loss, and other neuropsychotic disorders.