What is Ecstasy addiction?

Ecstasy has become hugely popular in recent decades, particularly in the dance party scene. According to the 2011 Drug Awareness Warning Network (DAWN) report, Emergency department visits involving Ecstasy increased by 120% between 2004 and 2011. Clearly, Ecstasy use continues to rise and the dangers its use poses are greater than ever.

Experts disagree on whether to call chronic use of Ecstasy “addiction.” The results of research on the addictiveness of Ecstasy are inconclusive. While it does show some evidence of animals self-administering the drug, it does not show the same addictive effects of other drugs, like heroin. However, whether it’s technically addiction, dependence, or abuse, using Ecstasy is dangerous and can lead to intense withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit.

What exactly is Ecstasy?

This question is bigger than it seems and the complexity of the answer reveals a huge part of the danger of using Ecstasy. Ecstasy refers to the brand name for the party drug 3,4-methyledioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA). Prior to being a party drug MDMA was used in psychological warfare tests and as a medication to help lower inhibitions.
After the drug was banned in 1985, people began using the term “Ecstasy,” to refer to a wide range of substances containing various levels of MDMA, sometimes none at all. This variation in what can be called, “Ecstasy,” is a huge part of the danger it poses. People trying to monitor how much Ecstasy they are using may not realize how much the concentration varies from pill to pill. Even worse, someone may buy Ecstasy expecting to take MDMA and end up with something else entirely.

Substances being sold as Ecstasy have been found to contain amphetamine, caffeine, cocaine, heroin, levamisole, LSD, meth, and/or rat poison.

The purity of Ecstasy is a real danger.

According to, in 2016, only 45.2% of Ecstasy tested was pure MDMA.

Additionally, among the tested samples, 9% of substances being sold as Ecstasy contained no MDMA at all. The remaining samples were either a mix of MDMA and other substances, or were not being sold as Ecstasy. These lab results clearly show you never really know what you’re getting when you buy, “Ecstasy.” The danger of consuming any number of combinations of unknown substances is apparent.

Ecstasy usually comes in pill form and often has whimsical icons pressed into the pills. The pills are usually swallowed, but some users will crush the pills into a powder in order to ingest them in other ways, such as snorting or injecting.

Although some dealers may sell “Liquid Ecstasy,” generally that substance is not MDMA, it is Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB), a known “date rape” drug.


How to Recognize Ecstasy Addiction

As a user keeps taking Ecstasy, the highs of the drug will get weaker and the lows between uses get harsher. The lingering effects of those lows are a good tip off that someone is using Ecstasy heavily. With that in mind, the following symptoms may indicate someone had an Ecstasy abuse problem.


While these symptoms are slightly vague, as stated previously, Ecstasy doesn’t exhibit all the same signs of addiction as some other drugs. But, if these symptoms occur in conjunction with known use of Ecstasy, they could be signs of dependence and abuse. With the huge variation of substances being sold as “Ecstasy,” the MDMA abuser is rolling the dice with every use.

Health Problems Associated with Ecstasy Addiction


The 2011 DAWN study mentioned earlier, found over 22,498 emergency room visits related to Ecstasy use.

That number only includes emergency department visits in which MDMA was found in the patients’ systems. It does not include medical emergencies or deaths resulting from people who thought they were taking Ecstasy, but unknowingly ingested other substances.

Some of the effects of Ecstasy may cause difficulties in accurately measuring the health risk. According to a report from the DEA, some Ecstasy users can believe they are having a health emergency when in reality they aren’t. Sometimes these people will go to the emergency room. Although no real health emergency exists, because they have Ecstasy in their system, it gets counted as an emergency room visit involving Ecstasy.

How does Ecstasy affect the brain?

Ecstasy disrupts the body’s natural alert system. So, when a person is on Ecstasy, his or her brain may not receive important information from the body. This can cause people to overexert themselves because they don’t realize their bodies are exhausted, overheated, or otherwise distressed.

In addition to blocking distress signals from the body, Ecstasy also affects the mind in the ways listed below.


How does Ecstasy affect the body?

Ecstasy can have devastating effects on the body. Not only does the drug itself cause harm to various organs, but because it blocks distress signals from reaching the brain, a person using Ecstasy may inadvertently cause harm to their own body through excessive activity.

Although death directly related to overdose of Ecstasy is rare. Death indirectly related to Ecstasy abuse is much more common. This happens when the mind doesn’t receive distress signals from the body.

Because Ecstasy is often taken inside hot clubs with lots of bodies, all dancing, one of the most common dangers associated with Ecstasy is heatstroke. Ecstasy blocks the messages coming from your body that tell your brain you’re thirsty, or you’re too hot. So, you just keep on dancing until the body overheats, which can cause permanent disability or death.

Ecstasy affects the body in several other ways, including the following.


Along with these harsh physical effects, using Ecstasy can also lead to the use of other substances, especially to cope with the low feelings users experience while coming down from Ecstasy.

Ecstasy Withdrawal Symptoms

People attempting to stop using Ecstasy may experience withdrawal symptoms that will make quitting much more difficult. Those symptoms include the following.


With every dose of Ecstasy being potentially lethal because you’re never quite sure what’s actually in it, quitting as soon as possible may just save your life. That’s why it’s important to fight through the difficult withdrawals.

Financial Costs of Ecstasy Addiction


By using the 22,498 emergency room visits from the DAWN report mentioned earlier and multiplying it by the average cost of an emergency room visit in 2011, $1,381, taken from the Health Care Cost and Utilization Report, you can see the huge medical costs associated with Ecstasy use.

In addition to the emergency healthcare costs, Ecstasy abuse has other expenses that will add up and lead to financial problems. The cost per pill varies widely, but in the ballpark of about $40 for one pill, a heavy user could fall into debt quickly. Combine that with the potential costs associated with the health risks and the legal risks and a person abusing Ecstasy could find themselves financially devastated.

Money troubles may cause the Ecstasy abuser to take drastic measures to finance his or her drug use, including theft, prostitution, or trafficking the drug themselves.

Social Problems Associated with Ecstasy Use

Because of Ecstasy’s propensity to cause users to feel over amorous, it can create different kinds of social problems than other drugs do.

Along with being known as a party drug or a, “club drug,” Ecstasy is also known as, “the love drug.” It earned that reputation because one of the effects Ecstasy causes is a false sense of affection. That feeling of affection may seem to be a way to get closer to friends and a way to “fit in” to the party scene. But, misplaced affection can be dangerous. It can lead an Ecstasy user to trust people they otherwise wouldn’t and often shouldn’t. It can also lead to risky behaviors and unprotected sex—increasing the likelihood of the user contracting sexually transmitted diseases, like HIV.

The social nature with which Ecstasy use is commonly associated can also contribute to it being used recklessly. If an Ecstasy user is taking the drug at a concert or dance party, as they often are, they may allow themselves to take higher doses because they feel comfortable losing control, believing the crowd provides them with some level of safety. Unfortunately, often the opposite is true. A crowd provides the perfect cover for any sexual predator looking to make a victim out an unsuspecting Ecstasy user. Also, the mass of bodies itself could contribute to excessive heat on the user’s body, causing heatstroke. In a health emergency, a person may have difficulty escaping from the crowd, or in the case of a debilitating event, emergency personnel may have trouble finding the victim.

Taking Ecstasy may sound like fun, but between the rampant mixing of substances being sold as Ecstasy and the dangerous social behaviors it elicits, the health risks are just too high to continue using it.

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