Ecstasy Addiction — Abuse And Treatment Options

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on October 12, 2022

Ecstasy is a street name for the drug MDMA. Also called Molly or XTC, ecstasy is one of several club drugs that are popular at raves, parties, and nightclubs. But the effects of ecstasy can lead to abuse as well as create mental health problems.

Ecstasy Addiction And Treatment Options

MDMA, or ecstasy, is a psychoactive stimulant drug that is popular with young adults and adolescents at parties. Today it is more commonly referred to as molly, but it is the same drug.

Other psychoactive or dissociative drugs include LSD and ketamine, but MDMA is unique in that the drug is both a stimulant and a hallucinogenic drug.

While ecstasy use is popular among young people today, MDMA is certainly not new.

It was discovered in Germany in 1912 and was intended to be a compound from which other medicines could be developed to control bleeding.

It began to be sold as a street drug in the latter part of the 1970s. Also during that time, some psychiatrists began using MDMA to help people find insight into their problems during therapy.

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What Is Ecstasy Made Of?

Ecstasy is a synthesized chemical called 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, which is where the initials MDMA come from.

It also explains the two parts of the drug’s effects. Methylenedioxy is responsible for the psychoactive effects and methamphetamine is responsible for the stimulant effects.

MDMA in the U.S. is made in clandestine labs mostly in Canada, although some of it comes from labs in the Netherlands, and is smuggled into the country.

Signs And Symptoms Of Ecstasy Abuse

Like other forms of substance abuse, Ecstasy addiction is not without its telltale signs.

Ecstasy is most often used at raves (all-night dance parties), so one sign of ecstasy abuse can be increased sociability.

Because ecstasy is also a stimulant drug, other signs may include:

  • teeth grinding
  • jaw clenching
  • a lot of energy

Why People Abuse Ecstasy

People abuse ecstasy because, as a stimulant drug, it creates a euphoric sense of well-being.

But it is also a psychoactive drug, so it intensifies visual experience (which is why glow sticks are often MDMA paraphernalia) and tactile experience.

How Do People Use Ecstasy?

Ecstasy can be used in a variety of ways, but as a designer drug, the easiest consumption of the drug is the one that people most often do.

Ingesting Pill Form Ecstasy

Ecstasy typically comes in brightly colored pills (for this reason, some of its street names involve the word “candy”). People who take ecstasy most often take it in this form.

Its appeal is to young people at parties, so ecstasy use often comes in a form that appears safe.

Ecstasy Snorting

Nevertheless, ecstasy can be snorted. Ecstasy sometimes comes in powder form, but more often people crush pills to a powder.

Plugging Ecstasy

People who use ecstasy rarely inject the drug and even more rarely plug ecstasy.

Plugging is usually an alternative to injecting when people who, for example, have used heroin for a long time and experience damage to veins that makes injecting difficult or untenable.

What Are The Effects Of Ecstasy Abuse?

Of the neurotransmitters in the brain, MDMA affects serotonin the most, but it also has a considerable impact on norepinephrine and dopamine, and it blocks the reuptake of all three.

Short-Term Effects

This combined effect of the increase of these and other chemicals (including those connected to sexual arousal) can result in lower inhibition and risk for unsafe sex.

Other side effects can include:

  • sweating or chills
  • nausea (as well as vomiting)
  • high blood pressure and heart rate
  • high body temperature

Find out more about the short-term effects of ecstasy use.

Long-Term Effects

Not much is known about the long-term effects of ecstasy, but researchers believe that negative effects of ecstasy drug use over a long period are connected to a decrease in cognitive function.

Can Long-Term Ecstasy Abuse Be Dangerous?

Ecstasy drug addiction can be dangerous. For example, when your body temperature spikes under the influence of MDMA, it can lead to organ failure and death.

MDMA use can also lead to mental confusion and irritability even days after taking the drug.

Can Ecstasy Cause Withdrawal Symptoms?

People who have abused ecstasy and stopped have noticed withdrawal symptoms as a result.

Withdrawal symptoms from MDMA can include:

  • poor appetite
  • fatigue
  • difficulty concentrating
  • depression

The Process Of Detoxing From Ecstasy

Ecstasy detox can be complicated by the fact that the drug is often cut with other drugs such as cocaine or fentanyl.

There is no medication-assisted treatment specific to ecstasy, but when detoxing from the drug with medical help, professionals can treat the symptoms and cravings of ecstasy withdrawal.

Treatment Options For Ecstasy Addiction

Ending MDMA addiction involves more than just detoxing from the drug. Professional treatment can involve one or more of several treatment options.

Treatment options for ecstasy addiction include:

  • inpatient treatment
  • outpatient treatment
  • evidence-based therapy
  • group support
  • aftercare

Ecstasy Abuse FAQs

If you still have questions about ecstasy abuse, take a moment to review answers to our frequently asked questions.

Yes, MDMA is a Schedule I controlled substance which means that it has no medical value.

Yes, like all drugs, you can develop a tolerance to MDMA that leads to taking higher doses.

Yes. Because MDMA affects the body’s temperature, you can take a lethal dose of ecstasy.

Orange tesla ecstasy is MDMA pills with the Tesla logo on them. They also glow in the dark.

Ecstasy is considered a sex drug because it elevates oxytocin and vasopressin, chemicals that affect trust, attraction, and arousal.

Find Substance Use Disorder Treatment Today

Ecstasy addiction leads to a variety of problematic behaviors, including unsafe sex. But you can receive addiction treatment for this substance use disorder.

At, we offer confidential help so you or your loved one can find a treatment center in your city or your region.

Call our helpline, and get started on addiction treatment today.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on October 12, 2022
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