Before modern civilization and before laws, human beings have been experimenting with drugs. In the earliest times, B.C., opium, and marijuana were used recreationally and to treat pain. As our society has progressed, our thirst and desire to get intoxicated has not changed much. The only change is the science behind these illicit substances. We’ve learned about their control over society. As science has progressed, it has led to the discovery of other drugs like alcohol and MDMA.
MDMA and alcohol have two different reputations. They do not have much in common other than they are used to enhance how we feel in a party scene. Alcohol falls into a completely different category of drugs known as depressants, whereas MDMA is a stimulant. Despite its legality, some would argue that alcohol is more dangerous than MDMA.
Both drugs can be addictive if they are abused. Unfortunately, alcohol is a much more dangerous substance when abused. These drugs both work in our brain to produce euphoria, and when you alter your natural chemical balance, there is a chance it never returns to normal.
The only common trait between the two drugs is an addiction and a potential for harm. Ecstasy produces a much smaller risk than alcohol when it comes to full-blown addiction, but both are deadly when abused. The risks increase exponentially if you use the two drugs in conjunction with one another or other substances.
Despite its legality, alcohol has a worse reputation than MDMA. There are therapeutic designations for MDMA, but they should both be avoided unless instructed otherwise by a medical professional. Let’s delve a little deeper into the differences between the two substances.
What is Alcohol?
There are many reasons why people drink alcohol. In some cultures, it’s accepted as a means to celebrate, while others use it to socialize, and others to relax. Alcohol can have a potent effect on some people, and throughout our history in the world, people have struggled to manage the power of alcohol. The effects will vary from one person to another, and while drinking alcohol itself is not necessarily a problem, drinking too much can cause severe consequences.
Some Factors that Determine Alcohol’s Effects Include:
- Family history
- How much alcohol was consumed
- How often you consume alcohol
Now that we know some factors that cause some people to be affected more than others, what is alcohol exactly? It is the main ingredient found in wine, beer, and spirits that cause you to feel drunk. Alcohol is formed when yeast ferments the sugars in different food. Alcohol is known as a sedative-hypnotic drug, which means it depresses the central nervous system (CNS) at high doses. At lower doses, however, it can mimic stimulant effects and induce feelings of euphoria or talkativeness.
Someone that drinks too much alcohol, however, is setting themselves up for more than just a next-day hangover. It can lead to respiratory depression, drowsiness, alcohol poisoning, and in some cases, death. Alcohol is one of the most dangerous substances on the planet, and its legal status should be concerning for those worried about a loved one who drinks.
Even someone who doesn’t regularly consume alcohol can set themselves up for failure. It only takes one time to get behind the wheel and cause a drunk driving accident. Someone that does not consume alcohol is at risk if someone decides to drive drunk causes an accident. The dangers surpass its users, and we must educate ourselves about what it can do to our society.
What is MDMA?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains that MDMA is a synthetic drug that produces effects similar to stimulants and hallucinogens. It works in our brain by producing effects that distort time and perception, energy, and enhancing experiences by providing a sense of joy and that everything is perfect.
NIDA goes on to describe the drug as an entactogen, which means it increases self-awareness and empathy. It is now being tested in therapy settings to treat those with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine derives from the phenethylamine family of chemicals – it can act as a stimulant, hallucinogen, or entactogen.
MDMA is known mostly by its slang name, ecstasy. It is commonly sold in a capsule that is consumed during a rave or at a club. Unfortunately, most of the ecstasy today is adulterated, or it contains varying amounts of the active ingredient. It is commonly cut with heroin, PCP, cocaine, or ketamine.
Molly is another slang word used to describe MDMA. It refers to the crystallized pure version of the drug. People believe that because they purchased a crystallized version that it is genuine. Unfortunately, it is easier for drug dealers to cut the drug this way and increase their profit margins. Molly has been tested and shown to contain many different types of dangerous drugs.
MDMA Side Effects
Despite its legal status, MDMA has been proven to have less severe side effects than alcohol. Do not let that fool you, however, because MDMA can cause severe depression. The substance interacts with our serotonin and dopamine in a unique fashion and those who abuse MDMA place themselves at a much higher risk of crippling depression. Even if you stop using MDMA, these feelings can last for months. In some cases, the damage can be permanent.
The Most Common Side Effects of MDMA Include:
- Crippling depression or sadness
- Loss of appetite
- Decreased libido
- Unusual sleep patterns
MDMA and Alcohol
More than 95% of people who use MDMA also abuse alcohol, according to a 2016 Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy article. The authors explain that the co-abuse of psychostimulants and alcohol can lead to neurophysiological dysfunctions, like a decrease in antioxidant enzymes in the brain.
Additionally, Medical News Today stresses that combining alcohol and MDMA increases the dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain, which can be dangerous. Too much serotonin in the brain might lead to a life-threatening condition called serotonin syndrome. A large increase of serotonin can cause a depletion of the neurotransmitter when the individual’s high wanes and results in a low mood or depression. This could lead to consuming more alcohol, which could potentially result in an overdose.
Why People Combine MDMA and Alcohol
MDMA releases the chemical dopamine in the brain, resulting in the feeling of euphoria. Alcohol is a depressant, which can make people feel relaxed or not so excited. When both substances are consumed together, harmful and possibly fatal symptoms may occur.
There are a few reasons why some individuals use both substances at the same time. They could be in an environment where both are easily available, like nightclubs, they want the high from MDMA to last longer, or they are trying to counteract the negative side effects of one or the other.
Drinking with MDMA
When a person is drinking and takes MDMA, it can be harmful to the body. Healthline reports that the liver metabolizes both substances. If you were to drink too much alcohol, it slows the liver from removing the MDMA, causing a buildup. The buildup can cause more severe side effects of MDMA or cause more intense negative reactions with MDMA.
Further, when you use both substances, it can increase dopamine and serotonin release in the brain, which might cause you to consume more of either drug to keep feeling the same effects. Both alcohol and MDMA affect awareness and thinking, and when taken together, your coordination and movement will be off.
Too much serotonin in the brain might prompt serotonin syndrome, which symptoms can be frightening:
- Muscle spasms
- High blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
Binge drinking while on MDMA can cause serious symptoms, which require emergency medical help. These are:
- Very high blood pressure
- Very high heart rate
- Mental status changes
- Increased anxiety
- Potential for an alcohol or MDMA overdose
Is MDMA Worse Than Alcohol?
There is good reason to ask this question since it’s been pointed out that taking ecstasy and alcohol together can be dangerous. However, is MDMA worse than alcohol? An article from the Drug Policy organization underlines the fact that alcohol is considered one of the most harmful substances. When viewing the graph chart embedded in the article, it ranks alcohol as most harmful and MDMA/ecstasy fifth from last, one of the least harmful drugs. Alcohol is easily available everywhere in the US and abroad, and it is legal to obtain if one is over the legal drinking age of 21. MDMA might not be so easy to obtain, but that doesn’t mean it’s not being obtained. So, when comparing MDMA versus alcohol, alcohol is, without doubt, the most harmful substance.
Ecstasy vs. Alcohol
It is quite possible that many people, including you, are out for the night at a club or rage party. While you are having a good time, dancing to the music, drinking, and getting into the party mood, be aware of anyone offering to give you “Molly” or “ecstasy.” It might be offered by someone you know or don’t know, or it might be sold inexpensively. Mixing MDMA and alcohol can result in not being fully aware of where you are and who is with you. Great harm can come to you if you are not fully alert of your surroundings and those who are near wishing to create harm.
It’s ironic that a drug with the power to boost your emotions so high can produce such a low. Unfortunately, that is the common theme for most drugs of abuse. They may feel good in the moment, but they are not worth your time.