The consumption of alcohol and MDMA, also known as “ecstasy” or “molly”, is commonly found within the nightlife scene. When MDMA is present, most likely alcohol is being served as well. This substance combination rose in popularity during the 1980s club scene and remains prominent today. While the isolated use of either alcohol or MDMA carries the risk of potential bodily harm, the combination increases the risk exponentially. To understand the dangers of mixing MDMA and alcohol, it is important to understand the side effects of each drug individually. 

MDMA (Ecstasy)

MDMA is a psychoactive substance that alters an individual’s senses, mood, and perception by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Due to its un inhibiting nature, this substance is typically used recreationally in party and nightlife circles. When taken in excess, MDMA causes undesirable side effects such as high blood pressure, increased heart rate, excessive sweating, and agitation. Although not nearly as abused as alcohol, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that approximately 18 million people have tried MDMA at least once in their lifetime within the United States alone.


As a legal and easily accessible substance, alcohol is the most abused substance in the world. As a Central Nervous System (CNS) depressant, alcohol impacts judgment, motor skills, and cognitive functioning. When consumed in excess, the physical body interprets alcohol as a poison, causing the user to vomit or become unconscious. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 95,000 deaths each year are attributed to alcohol consumption. These fatalities include liver failure, alcohol-induced traffic accidents, and alcohol poisoning, among others.  

Cocaine Addiction


MDMA and Alcohol

According to an article published by the Journal of Addiction Research and Therapy, alcohol is the most common substance abused in combination with MDMA. As alcohol works as a CNS depressant, MDMA is working as a psychoactive substance, leading to adverse physical and psychological effects on the user. MDMA effectively reduces the intoxicating effects of alcohol, commonly leading the individual to believe that they can over-indulge in drinking. While alcohol is typically metabolized more rapidly, drinking excessively can lead to liver toxicity or alcohol poisoning.

In contrast, because alcohol is metabolized first, MDMA can build up to dangerous levels in the body, ultimately increasing the risk of stroke, seizure, or organ damage, specifically to the heart and brain. Regular, simultaneous use of both MDMA and alcohol has also been linked to the development of Serotonin Syndrome. Serotonin Syndrome is a disorder in which the brain is no longer able to naturally produce serotonin due to serotonin depletion resulting from prolonged substance abuse. This generates chronic depression within the user. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that brain damage and serotonin syndrome acquired through prolonged MDMA use can remain present up to 7 years later.        

Female looking at glass with alcohol in it

Asheville Recovery Center Can Help  

MDMA and alcohol are both addictive and dangerous when abused on their own and, especially, when combined. That is why it is extremely important to seek help immediately if you or a loved one is struggling with any substance 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 drug abuse, our specialists are on standby and ready to help. Call (828)383-0784 and speak with an addiction expert today.

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