MDMA and dehydration

Many cases of serious injuries and deaths from taking MDMA in New Zealand are due to outside elements that are easily preventable.

Seemingly simple things like not taking breaks to cool off when dancing, or drinking too little (or too much!) water, can have devastating consequences.

While not taking drugs at all is always the safest choice, there are some options that can help reduce the harm associated with taking MDMA.

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Take time to chill

Dancing up a storm in a crowded place can leave you hot and dehydrated at the best of times, but it’s especially common on MDMA. It leads to exertion and a higher than normal body temperature.

Research in rats has shown that even moderate doses of MDMA interfere with the body’s ability to regulate temperature, potentially leading to deadly consequences in warm environments from heatstroke (hyperthermia). It could result in serious injuries like organ failure, and even death.

Recognise the early warning signs and get out of the heat as soon as you can:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Tiredness
  • Thirsty
  • Muscle cramps

Signs of heatstroke could include:

  • Fever (over 40°C)
  • Red, hot, dry skin
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Irrational behaviour
  • Extreme confusion
  • Seizure
  • Loss of consciousness

Stay hydrated

To avoid overheating and dehydration, it’s important to drink water. Don’t drink alcohol or drinks with lots of sugar – they can make you even more dehydrated.

MDMA can stop you from urinating as much, which can affect your perception of how hydrated you are. This means you could end up drinking too much water.

When taken to an extreme, this can be dangerous because it can cause the brain to swell from water intoxication. It can also lead to hyponatremia, which is caused by a low sodium concentration in the blood.

It’s a good idea to drink moderate amounts of water (around 500ml an hour) and to maybe have some salty snacks if you think you have drunk too much water. 

So, take a break, find shade, rest often, and remember to always keep an eye on your mates!

If you're worried about your drug taking, or drinking, the Alcohol Drug Helpline is here to help. Call 0800 787 797 or text 8681 to speak with a trained counsellor who can provide helpful information, insight and support. They’re available 24/7, all calls are free and confidential.