Understanding Ecstasy, MDMA, and Molly
Ecstasy is the street name for a version of MDMA, or 3,4 methylenedioxy-methamphetamine. It is an illegal, synthetic drug classified as a stimulant with potentially hallucinogenic properties. Molly is another name for MDMA. Both ecstasy and molly are made from MDMA, but ecstasy is used to describe a designer version in pill or tablet form, while molly is used for the white powder or crystal-like substance.
Although molly is marketed as a pure form of MDMA, there is no way for users to know what’s in it. Both molly and ecstasy may be cut with other ingredients, including:
- Rat poison
MDMA in its pure form is difficult to come by. Most of the drug is smuggled into the U.S. from Canada. MDMA is classified as a Schedule I Controlled Substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use. If you or someone you care about has a problem with ecstasy, get in touch with a treatment provider for help.
Ecstasy Effects and Abuse
Ecstasy and molly promote a feeling of well-being, happiness and friendliness. These drugs enhance the user’s sense of sight, sound, smell and touch. Ecstasy and molly are common at dance clubs and raves, allowing the user to take advantage of their heightened sensations. The effects of Ecstasy use include:
- Heightened senses
- Calmness and relaxation
- Long-lasting energy
- Empathy for others
- Lowered inhibitions
Like most drugs, ecstasy and molly interfere with the brain’s pleasure center and natural levels of dopamine.
The high from Ecstasy generally lasts between 3 and 5 hours. Depending on a number of factors including body weight, gender, amount taken, and method of administration, Ecstacy’s effects can last up to 8 hours.
Although the “high” from the drugs usually only lasts a few hours, the crash can last for days.
Because ecstasy is illegal, any use of it is considered abuse. Some versions of ecstasy and molly do not contain any MDMA at all and the person buying them is none the wiser. Sometimes MDMA is replaced with PMA (paramethoxyamphetamine). PMA may create similar feelings to MDMA, but the onset is longer. It has a much lower lethal dose, so when users try to take more to achieve the feeling they get from MDMA, overdose is a serious possibility.
Overdosing on ecstasy means taking more than the recreational dose. Ecstasy overdose can cause seizures, foaming at the mouth and a spike in body temperature. These can cause heatstroke or aggravate an underlying heart condition, both of which can prove to be fatal.
Ecstasy and Other Drugs
Commonly abused as a “party drug,” ecstasy is popular among college students, especially at raves and concerts. Studies suggest approximately 1 out of every 10 college students have experimented with the drug, and the rates of polydrug abuse are far higher among ecstasy users than other groups of drug users.
One study found that 98 percent of college students who had used ecstasy had also used marijuana. Ecstasy abusers were far more likely (anywhere from 3 times to about 30 times) to abuse inhalants, LSD, cocaine and heroin.
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Addiction to Ecstasy, MDMA
Research and clinical viewpoints vary on how addictive Ecstasy is, or whether it is addictive at all. There are many individuals who report becoming addicted to Ecstasy, but the clinical research on the subject is less extensive than with many other drugs. A number of studies have indicated that Ecstasy is addictive, though to a lesser extent than many other drugs. However, that does not mean that an Ecstasy addiction that has developed is not a serious problem.
Recognizing an addiction to ecstasy can be difficult because the drug lacks obvious withdrawal symptoms and is often used among young people in social settings. Regardless, continued use of ecstasy can lead to psychological and physical dependence. When someone is addicted to ecstasy, they will continue to use the drug despite knowing the consequences. Even when ecstasy is not the only drug causing dependence, it can be a piece of a multi-drug patchwork of addiction.
The most telling sign of an ecstasy addiction is wanting to stop but being unable to.
Other criteria include developing a tolerance to ecstasy, spending an extraordinary amount of time trying to get it, and using more of it than intended. Find out more about the criteria of diagnosing an addiction.
Ecstasy Abuse Statistics
92% of those who begin using ecstasy later turn to other drugs including marijuana, amphetamines, cocaine and heroin.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime estimates ecstasy users (mostly teens and young adults) number approximately 9 million worldwide.
Emergency room visits due to ecstasy have increased by more than 1,200% since ecstasy became the “club drug” of choice at all-night raves.
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Treating an Ecstasy Addiction
If you or someone you care about is struggling with an ecstasy use disorder, now’s the time to ask for help. Learn more about treatment for ecstasy abuse and addiction or contact a treatment provider now for more information on your options.