3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA and ecstasy for short, is a recreational drug that’s often used in social and party settings. It increases the activity of at least three neurotransmitters: serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Like other stimulants, ecstasy enhances the release of these neurotransmitters while blocking their reuptake, allowing them to flood the brain. These effects may include increased energy, mood, and empathy towards others. The last of these effects begs the question, how does ecstasy affect you socially?
MDMA Social Effects
Ecstasy social effects, such as when the drug supposedly produces distinctive feelings of empathy and closeness with others, are often reported in users. This effect is why MDMA is usually taken recreationally and in social settings like clubs, parties, and music festivals.
The social effects of ecstasy have been detailed in animal studies, during which social behavior in animal models has been displayed. While the logistics aren’t entirely clear, it’s believed that ecstasy affects you socially by increasing your mood.
When examining the effects of MDMA compared with methamphetamine effects, researchers found that healthy young adults showed responses to socially relevant and affective touch (low-force, mechanical stimulation) as well as increased visual attention to emotional faces. The study found that MDMA selectively enhanced ratings of the pleasantness of experience affective touch as well as increased attention toward happy faces.1
Long-Term Social Consequences of Ecstasy
While this increased empathy and improved socialization may sound tempting, how does ecstasy affect you socially in the long term? Considering that MDMA changes your mood by manipulating levels of important mood-linked chemicals like dopamine and serotonin in the brain, long-term use of the drug can impair the brain’s natural ability to release and regulate these chemicals.
This is a common problem among users of other similar drugs, such as methamphetamine. Over time, as the brain becomes accustomed to this forced stimulation, it eventually becomes “lazy” and struggles to recall how it’s supposed to release and balance these chemicals.
In the end, long-term use of MDMA can not only lead to addictive tendencies but can also negatively impact the user’s mental health, which can impair their social skills and willingness to connect with others.
There’s also a matter of ingredients. Ecstasy is an illegal drug that’s made illegally and therefore is not regulated whatsoever. This means that drug dealers can lace batches with other substances, increasing the drug’s risks.
Drug use, in general, can also open the gateway to the use of other, more serious drugs. Relying on substances like MDMA to socialize is an unhealthy habit that can lead to addictive behavior.
Can MDMA Cure Social Anxiety?
While many have proposed the use of MDMA for social anxiety, the concept isn’t that simple. Contrary to popular belief, MDMA cannot cure social anxiety.
While the drug does have the potential to enhance one’s empathy and increase the person’s likelihood of socializing with others, these side effects are only temporary and do not reflect a real change in the person’s symptoms. The emotional effects of ecstasy that one may experience upon taking the drug doesn’t mean there’s going to be any legitimate improvement in the person’s symptoms.
Additionally, anxiety disorders are not just emotionally-based. They’re also rooted in chemical imbalance and brain structure, both of which have not been proven to be regulated by MDMA. If anything, because ecstasy stimulates the activity of various chemicals, including serotonin, problems like serotonin syndrome are more likely to occur than any real relief in social anxiety in long-term users.
Need Help for MDMA Abuse?
Although there are various promises that MDMA is a cure-all for social anxiety, this isn’t the case. As with most other drugs, MDMA comes with many more cons than pros, and any use of the substance for medical purposes would always be conducted in a medical setting and not a recreational one.
Among the various risks of long-term ecstasy abuse is addiction. While this drug isn’t addictive in the same way that opioids or cocaine are, a person can become emotionally reliant on ecstasy for a sense of relief from stress or simply to socialize.
Over time, users may become dependent on the drug simply to have a good time, which is unhealthy for numerous reasons. They might even get to the point where they consider taking a stronger drug, like cocaine or methamphetamine, to up the ante.
In a nutshell, drug use of any kind can quickly snowball out of control, so it’s important to get help as soon as you recognize any signs of drug use in a loved one. If you or someone you care about is struggling with ecstasy addiction, our Pennsylvania drug rehab is here to help.
Our facility offers ecstasy addiction treatment that incorporates various services to treat clients’ physical and psychological needs. Our PA drug rehab offers it all, starting with medically monitored detox to combat withdrawals to family therapy to mend broken relationships.
- National Library of Medicine – Effects of MDMA on attention to positive social cues and pleasantness of affective touch