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The Effects of Ecstasy Use

  1. Table of ContentsPrint
  2. Overview of Ecstasy
  3. Short Term Effects of Ecstasy
  4. Side Effects
  5. Long Term Effects of Ecstasy
  6. Ecstasy Dependency
  7. Ecstasy Withdrawal Treatment

In dampening physiologic drives for food and water, ecstasy use has been linked to numerous cases of dehydration, exhaustion and hyperthermia.

Overview of Ecstasy

Ecstasy is a nickname for the drug 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, also known as MDMA. This is a synthetic creation that mimics the effects of methamphetamine stimulants and mescaline hallucinogens.

The drug was patented by the German pharmaceutical company Merck. Considered for its potential as a diet pill, MDMA was soon dropped by Merck for reasons unknown. Virtually dormant until 1953, MDMA was researched-and used-by a former pesticide chemist named Alexander Shulgin. Shulgin was on a quest for the ideal psychoactive drug but was frustrated by the regulations and required trials mandated before a medication could be brought to market. Other scientists met similar obstacles.

Ecstasy abuse came under scrutiny in 1985 when the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration banned its use due to its potential as an agent of brain damage. It remains on the list of drugs prohibited from sale or use until today, though the Food and Drug Administration has conducted tests of the compound's effect on humans.

Ecstasy Effects Quiz question 1

Physical and mental effects of ecstasy

  • Euphoria
  • Sexual arousal
  • Increased sensitivity to touch
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety (source)

Lasting health effects of ecstasy

  • Damage to serotonin system
  • Reduced pleasure
  • Paranoia
  • Depression (source)

Short Term Effects of Ecstasy

Often taken in pill or tablet form, ecstasy can have numerous undesirable side effects, including transient hypertension and problems with thermoregulation (resulting in elevated body temperature).

Shortly after taking ecstasy, the user may experience:

  • A positive increase in energy levels.
  • A euphoric state of being.

Feelings of emotional peace and empathy are also common among those who are high on ecstasy. When recounting what the ecstasy high is like, many users report perceived perversions in time and space, as well as in their sense of touch.

Another short term effect of the drug is the suppression of certain basic physical needs, like eating, drinking and sleeping. As a consequence, contemporary "rave" parties where ecstasy is present can exceed 24 or even 48 hours in duration.

Ecstasy Effects Quiz question 2

Side Effects

Like any drug, ecstasy can produce unexpected side effects. Some physiological effects of the drug include the following:

  • Nausea.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Sweating and chills.
  • Fever.
  • Shaking and tremors.
  • Muscle cramping.
  • Blurred vision.

Ecstasy Effects Quiz question 3

The side effects of ecstasy overdose are more extreme. These symptoms merit immediate medical treatment:

  • High blood pressure.
  • Lightheadedness.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Seizures.
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Extreme increase in body temperature.

At its most extreme, ecstasy overdose may cause death by heat stroke and heart failure. Because it masks the need for food, water and rest, this substance has also been implicated in dehydration and exhaustion.

Ecstasy Effects Quiz question 4

Videos on ecstasy

Long Term Effects of Ecstasy

While research on the long term effect of ecstasy is ongoing, certain traits are shared by regular users. For example, a 1998 study asserted that irreparable damage to serotonin neurotransmitters was observed in a subject group of users. Since serotonin levels affect learning, sleep and emotional processes, such damage can leave users severely impaired.

Without proper functioning of the neurotransmitters, conditions such as depression, anxiety and memory loss are much more likely to occur. Of course, continued use can also bring about an addiction.

If you or someone dear to you shows any signs of addiction to ecstasy, immediate medical attention is suggested. Call us today at (800) 943-0566 to discuss the best treatment option for your specific needs..

Ecstasy Effects Quiz question 5

Effects of ecstasy overdose

  • Hyperthermia (overheating)
  • Multiple organ failure
  • Severe dehydration
  • Death (source)

Ecstasy-related emergency room visits

United States

Altogether, anywhere from 10,000 to over 22,000 people in the US visited emergency rooms yearly for reasons related to ecstasy usage.

Ecstasy-related emergency room visits by people seeking detox services

United States

From 2004 to 2009, hundreds of people yearly in the US made emergency room visits relating to ecstasy and sought detox services.

Emergency-room visits due to suicide attempts involving ecstasy

United States

ER visits in the US relating to suicide attempts where ecstasy was involved range from 481 in 2007 to 1,239 in 2006.

Ecstasy Dependency

Genetics, family history and personality all affect the likelihood of dependency or addiction. Yet ecstasy has an inherent ability to enslave. As habitual users develop a tolerance to the drug, the impulse channels of their central nervous systems are reshaped. Ecstasy and the quest to get more of it becomes dominant in their lives. Work, school and relationships are all subordinated to the drug.

When supplies run out, withdrawal sets in. Because MDMA is a psychoactive drug, withdrawal symptoms often play out in the mind. Among them are:

  • Panic attacks.
  • Insomnia.
  • Out-of-body perceptions.
  • Inability to distinguish reality from fantasy.
  • Paranoid delusions.
  • Depression.

A person experiencing these symptoms can be a threat to his or her own health and safety, as well as to the well-being of others. provides help in finding an effective detox center for those who may have a dependency on ecstasy. Visit the website or call (800) 943-0566 for more information on how to help an Ecstasy addict.

Treatment facility admissions for ecstasy

United States, admissions for treatment, age 12+

Treatment admissions for ecstasy usage have grown from a few dozen in 2003 to several thousand in 2012.

Ecstasy Effects Quiz question 6

Ecstasy Withdrawal Treatment

A rehab center is considered the optimal environment in which to manage detoxification. Authorities on ecstasy addiction know that the patient requires unbroken supervision. Most treatment centers administer sedatives to offset the physical and mental trauma that the withdrawal entails. As detoxification progresses, intensive psychotherapy sessions are added, with the goal of exploring the emotional roots of the dependency. Once these triggers are recognized, mental health professionals then devise a strategy for the recovering addict so that relapse is avoided. Participation in a 12-step group or other support fellowship can bolster the gains made in therapy.

Rehabilitation centers range from resort-like properties to more pared down facilities. Insurance benefits and financial resources will determine the level of luxury a recovering addict may experience. Finding the right treatment center is simpler when certified counselors are available for referral. Those addicted to ecstasy-or those who care about them-should call (800) 943-0566 or visit for assistance in finding the best detox center.

Need Help Understanding Your Addiction Treatment Options? Call 1-888-747-7155.