Ecstasy is one name for a synthetic substance called 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA for short. Also known as molly, X or E, MDMA was first developed in the ‘70s to aid with therapy. By the ‘80s, it had fallen out of favor with the mental health community but had found an audience with the club scene. Even today, it’s a popular party drug that’s often associated with music and dancing.
Ecstasy has hallucinogenic effects but is primarily a stimulant. It creates a sense of euphoria that allows people to feel connected with others around them. Meanwhile, it amplifies the senses — especially the sense of touch — and generates mild visual hallucinations. It also promotes sexual arousal.
Ecstasy promotes the brain’s release of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. As a result, the effects of the drug are profoundly pleasurable, as the name suggests. That said, the high can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting, muscle cramps, chills, blurred vision, uncontrollable teeth clenching, and teeth grinding.
The high from ecstasy is short lived — a few hours at most — so people sometimes maintain the high by taking another dose. When the substance does wear off, the withdrawal symptoms are both marked and unpleasant, including sleep problems, fatigue, aggression, irritability, anxiety, depression, low libido and difficulty concentrating.
Over time and with repeated use, ecstasy prevents the brain from producing its own dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. It can permanently damage mood-related neural pathways.
While ecstasy is generally found as a tablet or capsule, it can be administered in a liquid or powder form. Because it’s relatively expensive, ecstasy often contains inert filler such as baking soda or cornstarch. It’s also common for a substance sold as ecstasy to contain cheaper synthetics, like bath salts or meth. That means a dose of ecstasy may contain any number of other active or inactive ingredients, so there’s no way of knowing how the potency of a given dose. Overdose remains a persistent risk with ecstasy use.
In addition to the various adulterants already in most street doses of MDMA, some people also choose to combine it with alcohol, marijuana, or prescription medications. Other people pair ecstasy with stimulants, such as cocaine and meth, or enhance the drug’s hallucinogenic properties with LSD or mushrooms. Combining substances can mask the effects of any of them, thereby raising the risk of accidental overdose.
There’s still considerable debate among addiction medicine experts as to whether or not ecstasy is physically addictive. Nevertheless, experts agree it can easily lead to psychological dependence as well as to behavioral health issues like mood disorders, memory loss, confusion, panic attacks, chronic insomnia, depression, severe anxiety and acute paranoia. With regular use, ecstasy worsens existing anxiety disorders and permanently damages neurotransmitters.
While ecstasy may or may not be physically addictive, its use damages the brain and affects behavioral health. At Golden Peak Recovery, we understand why you may have been drawn to ecstasy. We work carefully with you to identify the cause of your substance use disorder, including your dependence on ecstasy or any other substances. Then, we develop a customized plan for drug rehabilitation that combines evidence-based therapy, medication and wellness tools to help you recover. Golden Peak Recovery believes you deserve to find connection and happiness. We’ll help you do just that — without dangerous substances.