Ecstasy (MDMA)

Overview of Ecstasy (MDMA)

Ecstasy, formally known as MDMA, short for 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine, is a psychoactive drug that works as a stimulant as well as a hallucinogen. MDMA is typically in tablet form and the duration of its effects usually last three to six hours depending on the dose. Often, MDMA tablets include a combination of other drugs, including but not limited to GHB, methamphetamine, ketamine, and cocaine. Due to its illegal and unregulated status, it is almost impossible for a user to know the purity of the substance, and there are many concerns with toxicity of the chemicals in the pill.

A note on “Molly:” An extremely common myth is that Molly is a pure form of MDMA. This is false. Analyses of Molly samples reveal that constituents included methylone; MDA (methylenedioxyamphetamine); mCPP (meta-Chlorophenylpiperazine), TFMPP (Trifluoromethylphenylpiperazine) or BZP (Benzylpiperazine); ketamine; cocaine; methamphetamine; caffeine.

Effects of Ecstasy

MDMA affects serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine activity. Typically, the major effects last for about 3-6 hours, depending on the dose. The effects include euphoria, fixation on sights/sounds, and diminished anxiety from an increase of the hormones involved in love, trust, and arousal. It takes about 14 days after use of MDMA for depleted levels of serotonin to return to normal. Some other negative side effects of use include:

  • Impaired attention, drive, and motivation
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Chills or sweating
  • Muscle tension and teeth clenching
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Exhaustion
  • Dehydration
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Long-lasting confusion and depression
  • Seizures (at high doses)

Long Term Effects

MDMA can be toxic, and sometimes lethal, at high doses. The drug causes an increase in body temperature and dehydration, synergistically contributing to kidney failure and muscle breakdown commonly seen in overdose cases. Other long-term effects include:

  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Depression
  • Sleep abnormalities
  • Possible tolerance or drug craving
  • Long-lasting brain damage affecting memory and learning
  • Kidney failure
  • Psychosis


If you think you or a friend may have an issue with MDMA, call (530) 752-6334 or go to Health-e-messaging and log in to schedule an appointment with the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Intervention Services Coordinator. There is no charge for the confidential appointment.