How long does an MDMA comedown last
Ecstasy can lead to long-term depression and sleep disorders
In a good mood with ecstasy? That may be true for the duration of consumption. But what comes after that? If you follow the numerous studies on this topic, the aftermath of consumption can be long-term, with effects on the everyday life of those affected.
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"You open up to the outside world, you become very extroverted, you love everyone, everyone loves you," says Florian in the drugcom video. In ecstasy he felt happy. He felt as if he were floating on a cloud. “But the week after that it catches up with you,” he adds. "The happiness that you used up on the weekend is missing somewhere and you are depressed, dejected, unbalanced, tired, listless."
What Florian experienced is quite typical for ecstasy users. First comes the high, then the low. When there is excessive partying at the weekend and stimulating drugs are consumed, the body is exposed to enormous stress. Because ecstasy does not add energy to the body, but causes it to exploit its energy reserves.
Ecstasy empties serotonin stores
Under the acute effects of ecstasy, the neurotransmitter serotonin in particular is increasingly released. Serotonin is released from the stores in the nerve endings in what is known as the synaptic gap. Serotonin migrates in the synapse to the next nerve cell and triggers an electrical impulse there.
After signal transmission, serotonin is normally reabsorbed into its previous memory, but ecstasy also inhibits resumption. Serotonin is therefore active much longer in the synaptic cleft. The nerve cell that receives the serotonin signal fires particularly intensely. Consumers feel energized and happy.
Ecstasy and nerve damage
However, studies show that more frequent ecstasy use can cause nerve damage. A research team from the University of Cologne examined ecstasy users twice at an interval of one year. As it turned out, the memory of the users was noticeably deteriorated from about 10 ecstasy pills a year.
In addition, the research team examined the brains of the participants with the help of magnetic resonance imaging. A certain brain region, known as the hippocampus, was visibly less active in ecstasy users than in a comparison group with only minimal ecstasy experience. The hippocampus is an area that plays an important role in memory formation.
Large study on long-term effects in ecstasy users
However, ecstasy use is not only reflected in poor memory performance, but also has an impact on the mood of the user. It takes a while to replenish serotonin stores. It often takes up to a week for the body to recover. Therefore, consumers like Florian feel tired and listless for a while after consuming it. With frequent consumption, however, the mood can worsen permanently, as a study by the London Metropolitan University has shown.
Almost 1,000 people were involved in the study by Lynn Taurah and her team. Recruiting for the study was very complex and took five years to complete. The large sample was necessary because the team formed six different groups in order to be able to determine the influence of ecstasy in contrast to other drugs.
One group consisted of people currently using ecstasy and other drugs. The people in a second group had stopped using ecstasy at least four years ago. There were also four control groups, including people who had previously only had experience with alcohol and nicotine and those who had never drunk alcohol or smoked cigarettes. The fifth group had experience with cannabis, and the sixth group consisted of people who had used illegal drugs other than cannabis but had never used ecstasy.
All participants in the study completed a series of tests. According to the research team, this is the largest study to date to examine a wide range of psychological effects of ecstasy use.
Depression and insomnia with ecstasy use
The results provided a clear picture: Ecstasy users were more affected by depression and sleep problems than all other people with or without drug use. The values determined were in a clinically significant range, i.e. outside of the normal fluctuations. In this respect, the consequences of ecstasy consumption are likely to have a negative impact on everyday life.
Memory problems also occurred, but they also appeared in drug-savvy people who did not use ecstasy. The research team suspects that the combination of several substances are crucial.
The results of the former ecstasy users are remarkable. The people in this group were abstinent between four and nine years, so they had enough time to recover from ecstasy use. However, they were affected by depression and sleep problems almost to the same extent as current users.
The more ecstasy, the stronger the symptoms
From the point of view of the research team, these results suggest that ecstasy can cause long-term depression and sleep problems. However, the research team cannot provide any evidence. Because there is a possibility that ecstasy users generally tend to have a greater tendency to depression and sleep problems, i.e. they showed symptoms even before the first ecstasy pill.
On the other hand, the fact that a dose-effect relationship was found suggests a causal effect of ecstasy consumption: the more ecstasy a person had consumed in their life, the more pronounced were depressive symptoms and sleep disorders. This also means: the earlier consumers stop using, the more likely it is that they will be able to fully recover from the health consequences.
Florian, too, came to a point at some point where he no longer wanted to accept the disadvantages of consumption: “At some point the fun I had at the weekend was no longer worth the depression I had during the week. Then I said to myself: 'I'll stop doing that'. It helped me a lot personally to do sport, to do a lot of sport on a regular basis, that you simply exhaust yourself so that you knock out in the evening. falling into bed not worrying about missing something. In any case, I notice that I am more balanced, that my mood no longer fluctuates as much. I have to say, I'm very happy about it. "
- Becker, B., Wagner, D., Koester, P., Bender, K., Kabbasch, C., Gouzoulis-Mayfrank, E. & Daumann, J. (2012). Memory-related hippocampal functioning in ecstasy and amphetamine users. Psychopharmacology, 225 (4), 923-934.
- Taurah, L., Chandler, C. & Sanders, G. (2014). Depression, impulsiveness, sleep, and memory in past and present polydrug users of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, ecstasy). Psychopharmacology, 231 (4), 737-751.
- Wagner, D., Becker, B., Koester, P., Gouzoulis-Mayfrank, G. & Daumann, J. (2012). A prospective study of learning, memory, and executive function in new MDMA users. Addiction, 108 (1), 136-145.
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