Until recently, many people believed that taking MDMA, also known as ecstasy or molly, in low to moderate dosages was safe. But new research is showing that even low dosages could affect the body’s ability to cool itself and, in some cases, prove fatal.
The research showed that MDMA disrupted rats ability to cool their body. When the rats were alone and in room temperature environments, they were ok. The problem came when the rats were in groups in warmer environments. Without the ability to loose extra heat, the researchers found that the resulting conditions could be fatal.
This is worrying because of the way people often consume MDMA. It is a common party drug taken when people are in close proximity to one another and in hot and sweaty environments. If the human body is unable to regulate its temperature in these situations, it can suffer from any number of lethal problems.
"These results demonstrate that the use of MDMA in certain warm, social settings could be more dangerous than commonly believed," says Dr. Eugene Kiyatkin, first author on the study. "Even with moderate doses, we saw drug-induced, fatal brain hyperthermia during conditions of social interaction and in warm environments."
Armed with this new knowledge, researchers are hoping they can develop a treatment to counter the MDMA-induced hyperthermia. One such treatment may to develop a drug that stops the MDMA constricting blood vessels and improving blood flow. This would allow the body to push hot blood into the extremities and closer to the skin quickly and allow that heat to be dissipated more efficiently.
Such a treatment would be a valuable aid to first responders and others who may work at nightclubs or other social setting where MDMA is popular.
Either way, understanding the risks of using MDMA may better help drug prevention and harm prevention programs in the future.
To learn more about drug addiction, check out the Life Works Knowledge Centre.