Ecstasy Can Be Fatal In Warm Weather, So Slow Your Roll

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MDMA – also known as "ecstasy," "E," or "Molly" – has long been a favorite of substance enthusiasts, especially including rave- and concert-goers. "Harder" and more rare of a drug than marijuana, but less hardcore and addictive than cocaine or heroin, MDMA may seem like safe step up from getting plain old drunk and high. Bad news, though: MDMA can be deadly, according to a recent study, especially in warm environments just like those cramped venues and music festival campgrounds where it's so often used already.

Previously, it was known that repeated MDMA use over the long run could shrink the grey matter of the brain, leading to memory problems later. However, Researchers published in the Journal of Neuroscience, working for the National Institutes of Health, used rats to explore the safety of MDMA. Rats who were given a moderate dose of MDMA and left alone had some difficulty in regulating their body temperatures, but not too much. However, rats who received a moderate dose of MDMA and then housed with other rats or placed in a warmer environment struggled with elevated body temperature greatly, and some died.

The researchers conclude: "Even with moderate doses, we saw drug-induced, fatal brain hyperthermia during conditions of social interaction and in warm environments." Since these are exactly the conditions under which people tend to use MDMA recreationally, please do proceed with caution. If you or someone you know has taken MDMA and shows signs of hyperthermia, get medical attention right away and tell the medical professionals about the drug so they can provide assistance accordingly. Best to avoid the situation altogether though, and this means using MDMA in low-key, climate-controlled environments, if you must use it at all. A little bird told me how much fun ecstasy is, but a few hours of enjoyment at a music festival just aren't worth possibly overheating to death, promise.

Sasha Shulgin, the "godfather of ecstasy," coincidentally just passed away, so you may have seen more references to the drug in the news lately. While evidence of its dangers is worrisome, on the other hand, evidence that MDMA may help to treat psychological disorders is promising. Despite its club drug reputation, MDMA's risks and benefits should be weighed in the same manner as any potential treatment, so as not to inappropriately deprive potential patients of its therapeutic qualities.