MDMA (3-4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine), also known as “ecstasy” or “molly,” is an illegal synthetic psychoactive and popular drug of abuse. Its chemical makeup is similar to that of methamphetamine (a stimulant) and mescaline (a hallucinogenic). It produces a stimulating and psychedelic effect, enhances the pleasure of tactile stimulation and distorts the perception of time. It’s also been shown to increase empathy, extroversion and the willingness to discuss emotionally charged memories.
In a 2013 survey carried out in the United States, 17 million Americans reported using MDMA at some stage of their lives. The rate of use was highest in people between 18–25 years old.
In certain cases, people may combine MDMA and caffeine in an attempt to enhance the effects of the drug or may do so unknowingly. However, the combination of MDMA and caffeine has been shown to have an extremely hazardous outcome and pose danger to both the heart and the brain.
We want to provide you with a more comprehensive understanding of how these drugs affect the body, both independently and when combined.
The Effects of Caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant that’s naturally found in fruit leaves, coffee beans and cacao. It has a rich history and has been consumed by humans all over the world for thousands of years. It’s been used both medicinally and recreationally.
It’s the most commonly used drug in the world, and in 2020-2021, around 166.63 million 132-pound bags of coffee were consumed worldwide.
Caffeine increases the level of activity in the brain and nervous system. It also increases the circulation of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. In small doses, it can improve alertness and cognitive function, and people often use it as a work or study aid. However, excess use can lead to undesirable outcomes such as insomnia, anxiety and restlessness. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends consuming no more than 400 mg of caffeine per day (about 4-5 cups of coffee).
How to Know You’ve Had Too Much
If you consume too much caffeine, you may experience heart palpitations, anxiety, restlessness and mental confusion. You may also experience dizziness and trembling hands.
The Effects of MDMA
MDMA was first discovered in Germany in 1912 by Anton Kollisch, a chemist at the pharmaceutical company Merck. It gained popularity during the 1980s and was commonly used at large music festivals and raves.
A survey in 2014 revealed that 20% of Americans had used MDMA within the 12 months previous to the survey, and 1% of 19–28-year-olds had used it in the past month.
MDMA produces a feeling of connectedness and euphoria, increases extroversion, energy and empathy and can sometimes produce mild hallucinations.
Aside from inducing positive feelings, the drug comes with many adverse effects:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Jaw clenching
- Extreme thirst
In higher doses, it can also lead to:
- Muscle cramping
- Extreme sweating
- Heart failure
The use of MDMA causes a surge in serotonin, which is one of the “feel good” neurotransmitters. It essentially uses up the storage of serotonin, which can require days to a week to replenish after taking the drug. During this period, individuals may experience negative side effects such as low energy, depression and anxiety. Moderate to high doses of MDMA can also lead to long-term nerve cell damage in the brain.
Ecstasy and Neurotoxicity
Neurotoxicity refers to exposure to toxic substances (neurotoxicants), either manmade and natural, altering the normal activity of the nervous system. This can disrupt and kill neurons (brain cells) in the long run, which leads to interference in how the brain sends messages to other parts of the nervous system.
Many studies show MDMA has the potential to lead to serotonergic neurotoxicity in humans and laboratory animals.
Combining Caffeine and MDMA
The MDMA–caffeine combination may occur for a variety of reasons. Individuals may perhaps take a molly and Red Bull in hopes the mixture will result in an increased high. Others might combine them unknowingly. Caffeine is an integral part of the human diet; we consume it frequently in teas, coffees, energy drinks and more. An individual could take MDMA without realizing they’ve exceeded the recommended daily amount of caffeine.
The Dangers of Combining Caffeine and MDMA
Like an Adderall and caffeine overdose, combining two stimulating drugs can have hazardous effects. Unnatural stimulation of the heart is always something to be wary of, so combining two strong stimulants carries obvious risks. It can lead to a dangerously high heartbeat and fever-like symptoms and increases the neurotoxic effects of MDMA. Using caffeine is also shown to provoke the adverse reactions associated with MDMA use. It also increased the MDMA fatality level from 22% to 34%.
Given these negative effects and the lack of pain relief, it’s highly advised to avoid combining these drugs. It provides no extra benefit and involves highly consequential risk.
When to Seek Medical Care
If you suspect you may have taken too much MDMA or MDMA and caffeine together, trust your instincts and seek medical help immediately. Because caffeine increases the adverse reactions of MDMA, the warning signs will be similar to a regular MDMA overdose. This may include profuse sweating, muscle cramping and seizures. If you experience these symptoms or feel you may have taken too much, seek help.
Think Twice Before Combining These Drugs
Prevention is obviously the best form of treatment. Simply knowing what each drug does to the body and the potential risks they carry can aid in making better choices. However, many people still use dangerous amounts of drugs despite knowing about their negative consequences. This is often the result of the addictive effects of drugs as adverse withdrawal effects can make it difficult to stop using.
How FHE Health Can Help
FHE Health is a mental health and drug rehabilitation center located in Deerfield Beach, Florida. If you feel you’re suffering from drug dependence, addiction or mental health difficulties, contact us today by calling us at (833) 596-3502. Our compassionate team of counseling professionals is standing by 24/7 to take your call and help you take the first steps of your journey to recovery.