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Last updated : May 1, 2019
Empathogens increase an individual’s feeling of empathy and benevolence towards others and increase feelings of being socially accepted by and connected to others.1 They can increase friendliness and playfulness, but can also cause mood swings, dehydration and depression.2 Empathogens are sometimes referred to as entactogens.
Empathogens cause the release of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. Serotonin controls mood, appetite and sleep, and can make you feel relaxed. Using empathogens can cause the serotonin levels in the brain to become very low, and can also lead to hyperthermia.
Empathogens such as MDMA are usually found in pill, crystal or capsule forms. They are most commonly swallowed, but can be snorted or shelved (used rectally).
There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug.
Empathogens affect everyone differently, based on:
Generally speaking, the following may be experienced:
Using empathogens with other drugs can be dangerous, in particular with other drugs that increase the amount of serotonin in the brain, including antidepressants, SSRIs, L-Tryptophan and other empathogens.4 High levels of serotonin can lead to serotonin toxicity or serotonin syndrome. This is a serious condition with symptoms such as confusion, agitation, sweating, increased heart rate and muscle spasms, and can be fatal.5
Use of empathogens is likely to be more dangerous when:
Often drugs sold as ecstasy may not contain any methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA); they can be a mix of amphetamine, paramethoxyamphetamine (PMA), ketamine, NBOMe, methylone or other substances.
Regular use of empathogens can decrease the potency of the drug on your body, which may lead to you wanting to consume larger amounts. Using empathogens on a regular basis may mean that you are releasing and depleting serotonin before it has had a chance to build back up. Experiencing low serotonin levels can lead to depression and depressive symptoms.7