Within the world of drugs, there are substances that stimulate and substances that depress. Substances that stimulate are referred to as “uppers” while substances that depress are labeled “downers”. These phrases refer to the physical and mental reactions a user experiences while intoxicated by a specific substance. As stimulants, uppers produce an increase in energy, feelings of invincibility, and sharpened focus while downers act as depressants, inducing lethargy, feelings of euphoria, and relief from discomfort. 

While the immediate reactions are opposite in nature, both uppers and downers are equally capable of inflicting damage to the user.  Complications associated with uppers include rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, and aggression whereas downers contribute to breathing suppression, low blood pressure, and impairment of motor skills. 

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Is MDMA an Upper or Downer?

MDMA, also known as ecstasy or “molly”, is a stimulant and a mild hallucinogen, classifying it as an upper. MDMA use remains prevalent in nightclub scenes but is also increasingly common among teenagers and young adults. According to a 2014 report by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 17 million Americans reported using MDMA at least once in their lifetime. 

Side Effects of MDMA 

MDMA produces a high in which the user experiences: 


     Increased confidence 

     Enhanced perception

     Teeth grinding 


     Increased empathy

     Heavy perspiration

When used in excess or for a prolonged period of time, there is a possibility of developing the following:

     Chronic depression

     Kidney failure

     Brain damage 

     Cardiovascular collapse 

     Memory loss

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Dangers of MDMA Abuse

When used regularly, MDMA can become highly addictive and can potentially be a gateway drug. According to the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, One has to continually increase the amount of the drug one takes in order to feel the same effects. Because the desired effect from using the drug diminishes, a person often then tries other drugs that are even more dangerous. 

As a stimulant, MDMA increases body temperature significantly. While under the influence of this substance, the user typically is unaware of this change, therefore risks of hyperthermia increase. As stated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, even moderate doses of MDMA interfere with the body’s ability to regulate temperature, potentially leading to deadly consequences in warm environments. Treatment of hyperthermia requires prompt medical attention, as it can rapidly lead to muscle breakdown or an electrolyte imbalance, which can, in turn, produce kidney failure or fatal swelling of the brain. 

Additionally, MDMA puts strain on the cardiovascular system by increasing heart rate and blood pressure considerably. When taken in excess or for a prolonged period of time,  stroke or seizure may occur. 

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Asheville Recovery Center Can Help  

MDMA is an addictive, psychoactive stimulant with the potential to inflict long-term damage to the body when abused. It is important to seek help immediately if you or a loved one is struggling with this addiction. At Asheville Recovery Center, treatment specialists have developed a unique, hybrid model of treatment which combines a traditional 12-step program with holistic rehabilitation. A multitude of services, programs, and therapies are offered, including the Partial Hospitalization Program, Residential-style treatment, outpatient rehabilitation, and more. 

The founders of Asheville Recovery Center, as well as many of our addiction therapists, have struggled with addiction and now enjoy life in recovery. They understand the struggles of addiction and how difficult it is to overcome alone. If you feel that you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, our specialists are on standby and ready to help. Call (828)518-6996 and speak with an addiction expert today so you can take the first step towards a rewarding life of sobriety.

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