Water intoxication

Because overheating is one of the most serious acute risks of XTC/MDMA, many people who use MDMA know that they need to ‘drink enough water.’ Some people have interpreted this as needing to ‘drink a lot of water’ when using MDMA. Unfortunately, there are cases where MDMA users have died from drinking ‘too much’ water; a condition known as water intoxication.

MDMA causes your kidneys to excrete less water through your urine. So your body retains more fluid when you’re on MDMA. You may find it difficult or impossible to urinate. Drinking a lot of water increases the volume of blood. The concentration of salts (sodium) in your blood decreases. Additionally, due to MDMA, you usually don’t feel hungry, which means you’re not getting any salts (sodium). Because of this low sodium concentration, water flows from the blood into the brain cells, causing them to swell. Women are more affected by this than men. Since your skull cannot move, increased pressure develops in your head. The pressure on the brain becomes too great to function normally. This can lead to coma and eventually death in extreme cases.

The main way to prevent water intoxication is not to drink too much water.

Unity tip: Do not drink too much water when using XTC/MDMA and during the 24 hours afterward. Stick to a maximum of 1 glass of water per hour.

Symptoms of water intoxication include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling generally unwell

Later symptoms may include:

  • Epileptic seizures
  • Reduced consciousness
  • Coma