Ecstasy Addiction

Ecstasy use became popular in nightclubs as a party drug. Ecstasy users seek out this drug for its effects on creativity, energy, and lowering inhibitions but the impact of taking this drug can lead to substance use disorder and even death.

What Is Ecstasy?

Ecstasy and molly are common names for a drug called Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), a psychoactive drug that alters moods and perceptions by increasing your serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine levels. Many people take it to have feelings of euphoria and increase their confidence.

Ecstasy is a cross between a hallucinogen and a stimulant, so its effects cause people to have much lower inhibitions. As a result, they participate in much riskier behavior—such as dancing all night without drinking water or engaging in sexual behaviors with strangers.

Classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, ecstasy carries a high risk for abuse. This drug is outlawed in the United States and other countries. Abuse of this synthetic drug can have serious side effects, especially in combination with other substances.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), there is some debate about whether ecstasy is truly addictive. However, its negative side effects and potentially life-threatening consequences still make it a dangerous illicit substance.

One thing that is worth noting is that ecstasy impacts serotonin and norepinephrine much more than it affects dopamine. This makes ecstasy different than most of the other drugs of abuse.

Side Effects of Ecstasy Use

The effects of ecstasy may vary depending on several factors, including:

  • The amount of the drug taken
  • If you are a first-time user
  • If you have developed a tolerance for the drug
  • If it is being used in combination with other drugs

As there is no recognized medical use for ecstasy, any form of use falls under substance abuse and can have potentially dangerous side effects.

Short-Term Effects of Ecstasy

Short-term use of ecstasy can have the following side effects:

  • Euphoria
  • Renewed energy
  • Increased confidence
  • Fast breathing
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increases feelings of empathy
  • High blood pressure
  • Dehydration
  • Teeth clenching
  • Nausea
  • Reduced appetite
  • Blurred vision
  • Insomnia
  • Heightened sensory perception
  • Increased sex drive

Long-Term Effects of Ecstasy

Using ecstasy over a long period of time (several hours), or repeatedly in the long term can produce the following effects:

  • Damage to brain cells
  • Liver damage
  • Lack of concentration
  • Depression
  • Risk of contracting hepatitis, HIV, and sexually transmitted infections due to unprotected sex
  • The need to use other drugs (including benzodiazepines or alcohol) to minimize the side effects of ecstasy

Ecstasy Abuse and Addiction

Ecstasy is available in pill form, while “molly” is a powder that is mixed with a liquid before it is consumed. Due to the illegal status of these drugs, using them qualifies as abuse.

Ecstasy abuse is most common in the club or rave scene because the drug heightens one’s senses. However, this also creates a particularly dangerous scenario.

Ecstasy already causes dehydration, raised body temperatures, and even electrolyte imbalances that can lead to swelling of the brain. People that take this drug at raves and clubs are usually there dancing, which will contribute to increased body temperature, dehydration, and lost electrolytes. Ecstasy users are often unaware of these bodily changes and not likely to make sure they are drinking enough water. This usually leads to collapse and other dangers.

Abusing ecstasy over a long period of time has its own complications. Prolonged use negatively affects areas of the brain involved with emotion formation and processing, behavioral learning, and sensory and motor function.

Am I Addicted to Ecstasy?

Signs that you may be addicted to ecstasy may include:

  • Challenge performing daily tasks
  • Isolating yourself from friends or family so you can use the drug
  • Dishonesty (about use of ecstasy or similar)
  • Financial struggles
  • Being unable to stop using the drug
  • Cravings for the drug
  • Legal issues you did not have before
  • Mood changes
  • Depression

Ecstasy Withdrawal

After years of regular use, if you suddenly stop taking ecstasy, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. Many of these symptoms are similar to those who use alcohol and other addictive drugs. In many cases, these symptoms will occur within three to four days of abstinence from the drug but can persist for a week or more.

Withdrawal symptoms of ecstasy may include:

  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle spasms
  • Anxiety
  • Drug cravings
  • Agitation/irritability
  • Poor concentration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression

Ecstasy Overdose

Ecstasy is extremely dangerous, particularly if it’s taken in large amounts as it can lead to an overdose. With a combination of the drug’s powerful stimulants and a high risk of user error, ecstasy can be potentially fatal.

How Do You Know When Someone Has Overdosed on Ecstasy?

Someone that is experiencing an ecstasy overdose will likely display some of the following signs:

  • Hallucinations
  • Irritability/aggression
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Vomiting
  • Seizure
  • High body temperature
  • High blood pressure
  • Drowsiness
  • Muscle spasm
  • Increased heart rate

What Should I Do if Someone Has Overdosed On Ecstasy?

  1. Immediately call 911
  2. Confirm if the victim is responsive
  3. Stay with the victim until help arrives
  4. Provide all relevant information to the emergency services, including other drugs the victim may have taken.

Ecstasy Addiction Treatment

Making the switch from ecstasy to sobriety can be challenging, but it is a move that will ultimately help you to begin a new phase of your life.

There are a variety of treatment options to choose from, and each individual has different needs that will determine what type of program might be best for them. Within your own network of support, you can make it through this difficult time and enter a life free from addiction.

Ecstasy Detox

Detoxification from ecstasy is an effective process provided to help facilitate the withdrawal from the drug. These programs are usually run by medical professionals in carefully controlled environments and offer a number of resources to help you remain healthy while your body eliminates the remaining ecstasy from your system.

While there are a number of treatment facilities that help facilitate detoxification, it is important that you choose a medical-based program in order to have the safest experience possible.

Ecstasy Treatment Programs

There are several Ecstasy addiction treatment programs available, each with its own set of features and benefits. It is important to know what each of these programs can do for you and what your options are when deciding on an ideal Ecstasy addiction treatment center.

Inpatient Rehab Program

Because Ecstasy is such a powerful drug, many individuals find that they need inpatient treatment to combat this addiction. Inpatient rehab programs combine counseling and psychological treatments with medications and behavior therapy. Many inpatient programs also offer family counseling and 24-hour monitoring.

Partial Hospitalization Program

Partial hospitalization programs are outpatient programs that provide therapy and medical care (when needed) at a rehab facility but allow the patient to return home at the end of each day. In some ways, partial hospitalization programs act as a bridge between inpatient and residential programs and less-intensive outpatient rehab.

Patients enrolled in partial hospitalization programs for ecstasy addiction receive the same quality of care that they can expect from a residential program but without the same level of time commitment. Partial hospitalization generally lasts for about 3 months and can work really well for individuals that have a stable home life.

Intensive Outpatient Program

The Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is designed to provide flexible and individualized treatment at a much lower intensity than the aforementioned programs. IOP can be great for individuals with minor ecstasy addiction or for recovering addicts that are transitioning out of an inpatient or partial hospitalization program.

In an IOP, you will receive individual and group therapy sessions. Some IOPs will also provide family therapy sessions as well.

An IOP typically lasts between 2 months to a year, depending on your individual treatment plan.

Ecstasy Statistics

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reports the following statistics on MDMA use:

  • Almost 32 million Americans of ages 12 years and above are current illegal drug users.
  • The rate of use of MDMA is highest among people aged between 18 and 25 with 12.8% reporting having tried it at least once in their lifetime.
  • More than 17 million Americans admitted to having used ecstasy in 2013.

Support for You and Your Loved One

It can be difficult to understand or cope with a loved one’s addiction. You want them to stop, but they don’t see the problem. Knowing how to manage their behavior is challenging as well as stressful.

There are support groups available for you to help you process your loved one’s addiction

We provide information and resources for family members and friends struggling with a loved one’s addiction.

Ecstasy Addiction FAQs

Is Ecstasy Illegal?

Yes. The drug MDMA (better known as “ecstasy”) is illegal. Since 1985 it has been listed in the Schedule I category of the Controlled Substances Act, along with heroin and LSD. Schedule I substances have a high potential for abuse.

How Is Ecstasy Taken?

People usually take MDMA as a tablet or capsule (Molly), but it can also be taken as a liquid or snorted as powder.

What is the Difference Between Ecstasy, Molly, and MDMA?

MDMA is the only scientifically-approved common name for this drug, though it is better known by its slang terms “ecstasy” and “molly.” However, because MDMA is illegal, the risk of purchasing this drug is higher as it could be cut with other drugs or not contain any MDMA at all.

Reviewed by:Kent S. Hoffman, D.O.

Chief Medical Officer

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. has been an expert in addiction medicine for more than 15 years. In addition to managing a successful family medical practice, Dr. Hoffman is board certified in addiction medicine by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM). Dr. Hoffman has successfully treated hundreds of patients battling addiction. Dr. Hoffman is Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of Addiction Guide and ensures the quality of our website’s content and messaging.

Written by:

Content Manager

Jessica Miller is a USF graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in English. She has written professionally for over a decade, from HR scripts and employee training to business marketing and company branding. In addition to writing, Jessica spent time in the healthcare sector (HR) and as a high school teacher. She has personally experienced the pitfalls of addiction and is delighted to bring her knowledge and writing skills together to support our mission. Jessica lives in St. Petersburg, FL with her husband and two dogs.

7 references
  1. MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly) DrugFacts. (2021, June 7). National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved November 28, 2021, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/mdma-ecstasymolly

  2. Foundation for a Drug-Free World International. (n.d.). What Does Ecstasy Do? Get The Facts About MDMA – Drug-Free World. Foundation for a Drug-Free World. Retrieved November 28, 2021, from https://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/ecstasy/imaginary-love-pill.html

  3. Ecstasy Or MDMA (also Known As Molly). (n.d.). DEA. Retrieved November 28, 2021, from https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/ecstasy-or-mdma-also-known-molly

  4. What’s the difference between molly, ecstasy and MDMA? (n.d.). Drug Policy Alliance. Retrieved November 28, 2021, from https://drugpolicy.org/mdma-ecstasy-molly/whats-difference-between-molly-ecstasy-and-mdma

  5. MDMA (Ecstasy or Molly) Drug Facts, Effects. (2021, June 25). NIDA for Teens. Retrieved November 28, 2021, from https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/mdma-ecstasy-or-molly

  6. MDMA (Ecstasy) Fast Facts. (n.d.). National Drug Intelligence Center. https://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs3/3494/index.htm#illegal

  7. Bustamante, J. (2021, September 26). Drug Abuse Statistics. NCDAS. Retrieved November 28, 2021, from https://drugabusestatistics.org/

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