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Ecstasy/MDMA Addiction: Some Important Facts

3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, often abbreviated as MDMA and commonly called as Ecstasy is a synthetic drug having psychoactive effects. It is used for recreational purposes and common effects produced by the drug include euphoria, empathy and heightened senses. MDMA was first made in 1912 and in 1970s; it was introduced in United States to be used as an aid to psychotherapy. By 1980s, it was a popular street drug. Ecstasy is a popularly used drug in nightclubs, parties and raves. Sometimes other drugs are mixed with it such as amphetamines and methamphetamine. The use of ecstasy in United States is on the rise and the situation needs to be monitored.

Table of Contents:

  • 1.What is ecstasy?
  • 2.How is ecstasy/ MDMA used?
  • 3.Is MDMA addictive?
  • 4.Are there any therapeutic uses to MDMA?
  • 5.How does ecstasy work?
  • 6.What are the risks associated with ecstasy use?
  • 7.What are the facts and figures on ecstasy use?

What is ecstasy?

Ecstasy is a recreational drugs usually sold in the form of different colored pills having different things and brand names engraved on them. It is a psychoactive drug that alters the mood and perception of the user. MDMA is chemically related to both stimulant and hallucinogen drugs. When the drug is used, it produces feelings of pleasure, elevated energy, increased emotions and distorted perception of things around. Originally, the drug was introduced in United States for therapeutic uses but later it was not approved by US Food and Drug Administration to be used for medicinal purposes. After that, it has been prevalent in the streets of United States as a recreational drug. In 1985, it was categorized as a schedule I substance which means it has a high potential of abuse and addiction.


Ecstasy/MDMA Addiction: Some Important Facts

Initially, the drug was only used in nightclubs and dance parties but now its use has prevailed beyond that.  There are a number of street names given to the drug such as:

  • Hug drug
  • Love
  • Love drug
  • Snowball
  • Molly
  • Cadillac
  • Essence
  • Eve
  • Hug
  • Lover’s speed
  • E
  • Beans
  • Clarity
  • California sunrise

How is ecstasy used?

Ecstasy is usually swallowed in the form of pill or capsule. Sometimes the pill is converted into the powder and snorted. Swallowing the pill in liquid form is another option.


Ecstasy is sometimes called Molly which is a slang term for molecular. It is used to mention pure molecular MDMA usually available in the form of capsules. Buying the drug in the form of tablet or powder mostly has some other drugs such as cathiones, methamphetamine, amphetamines etc mixed in it.

Is ecstasy addictive?

Whether MDMA is addictive or not is a controversial topic. Studies conducted on this topic have opposing results but the researches show that there is a potential of abusing the drug and developing addiction, although, to a much lesser extent as compared to other drugs such as cocaine, heroin etc.

Some users have reported developing signs of addiction as well as these withdrawal symptoms on quitting:

  • Exhaustion
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Failure to concentrate

Are there any therapeutic uses to MDMA?

MDMA was first used in 1970s as an aid during the process of psychotherapy but clinical trials conducted later to demonstrate useful effects of the drug were not successful nor was the drug was approved by US Food and Drug Administration to be used for therapeutic purposes. In 1985, FDA made it an illegal drug with not any recognized medicinal benefits. Currently, some researchers are working to find out whether the drug has any benefits for the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, severe anxiety, social anxiety and autism.

How does ecstasy work?

Ecstasy or MDMA acts on Central Nervous System and stimulates the production of certain neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine. Also, it is known to destroy serotonin releasing neurons that have a significant role in controlling many emotions and activities of the body. Though physical addiction to MDMA is rare, it is possible to become psychologically addicted to it. The pleasurable effects produced by the drug force the user to take the drug over and over again and thus the drug continues to produce its harmful effects on the user.


What are the risks associated with ecstasy use?

Ecstasy is an immensely dangerous drug and a number of death cases are associated with the usage of this drug. In most of the death cases, the user did not die of overdose. In fact, normal amounts of drug were found in the body of the dead. Most of the times, multiple conditions triggered by the usage of drug result into the death of the user. Such as heatstroke, pre-existing medical conditions further worsened by the drug. So a safe limit cannot be established for MDMA. Users are always at a risk of dying due to a number of bodily reactions started by the drug.

What are the facts and figures on ecstasy use?

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) provided a lot of information on the usage of ecstasy in United States. In the survey, the drug was classified as a hallucinogen and not a stimulant. The survey revealed that:

  • About 1.3 million Americans aged 12 and older admitted using hallucinogenic drugs in the past month.
  • 751,000 Americans admitted using ecstasy for the first time in the past year. Among them, around 230,000 first time users were below the age of 18.
  • The average age for Americans to use the drug for the first time was 20.5 years old.
  • About 11 million Americans aged 12 and older admitted using MDMA at least once in their life.
  • The number of MDMA users in 2004 was estimated to be 450,000.

The survey revealed that there are a number of hallucinogenic drug users in United States but altogether, the figure is not as big as associated with the usage of some other drugs. The usage of this drug is steadily increasing in United States and due to serious hazards associated with it, its use needs to be controlled especially among teens and young adults who take it as a party drug at nightclubs and dance parties.


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