What Is Ecstasy & MDMA Addiction?
Ecstasy & Molly (MDMA) Addictions: Signs, Dangers and Recovery
What is Ecstasy and What is Molly?
Ecstasy is the street name for a version of MDMA, chemically known as 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 the name used for the white powder or crystal-like substance.
Although molly is marketed as a pure form of MDMA, because it is a white powder there is no way to tell if it is actually pure or if it has been ‘cut’ (mixed with) other substances, which can commonly include:
- Rat poison
MDMA in its pure form is actually very difficult to come by. MDMA is classified as a Schedule I Controlled Substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and there is currently no accepted medical use for the drug. Essentially MDMA was manufactured to be taken for the high.
Immediate Effects of Ecstasy and Molly
Both ecstasy and molly promote feelings 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 (music, flashing lights, coloured lights etc). The effects of Ecstasy and Molly include:
- Heightened senses
- Calmness and relaxation
- Long-lasting energy
- Empathy for others
- Lowered inhibitions
Ecstasy and molly interfere with the brain’s pleasure centre and natural levels of dopamine. The high from ecstasy and molly generally will last between 3 to 5 hours but can last as long as 8 hours. The duration of the high depends on a number of factors including body weight, gender, amount taken, and method of administration. Although the high from ecstasy and molly typically lasts only a few hours, the crash afterwards can last for days.
Some versions of ecstasy and molly do not contain any MDMA as it has been replaced with PMA (paramethoxyamphetamine). PMA creates 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 or molly means taking more than a recreational dose. Ecstasy or molly overdose is extremely dangerous and 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.
Addiction to Ecstasy and/or Molly (MDMA)
Research and clinical viewpoints vary on how addictive ecstasy and/or mollies are, or whether they are addictive at all. There are many individuals who report becoming addicted to ecstasy/mollies, but the clinical research on the subject is less extensive than with many other drugs. A number of studies have indicated that they are addictive, though to a lesser extent than many other drugs. However, that does not mean that an ecstasy/molly addiction that has developed is not a serious problem.
Recognizing an addiction to ecstasy/mollies can be difficult because the drug lacks obvious withdrawal symptoms and is often used among young people in social settings. Regardless, continued use of them can lead to psychological and physical dependence. When someone is addicted to ecstasy or mollies, they will continue to use the drug despite knowing the negative consequences that will follow. The single most telling sign of an ecstasy and/or molly addiction is wanting to stop but being unable to do so. Other criteria include developing a tolerance, spending an extraordinary amount of time and/or money trying to get it, obsessive behaviour around having the drug and using more of it than intended.
Signs of Ecstasy Abuse
When someone is abusing ecstasy or mollies they will almost always experience increased energy and enhanced self-confidence – usually believing that everyone around them is their friend.
Some of the other common signs of ecstasy/molly abuse include:
- Heightened sensory perception
- Increased positive sensations
- Increased capacity for empathy
- Dilated pupils
- Unnatural, long-lasting energy
- Inability to feel pain, or reduced sense of pain
- Desire to touch or be touched
- Changes in sleeping habits
- Staying awake for days at a time
- Teeth clenching
- Muscle tension
- Dry mouth
- Mild confusion
- Excessive sweating
- Strong feelings of love and affection for people around them – even if there is no personal connection
- A sense of euphoria
- Heightened emotions
- Reduced anxiety and depression
The Dangers of Ecstasy and Mollies
Ecstasy and mollies are responsible for many deaths and thousands of hospital visits each year in the United States and Europe, the leading causes of which are hyperthermia, or overheating.
Ecstasy and mollies are commonly night club drugs, where users tend to be at a high risk of becoming dehydrated or overheating (through a combination of the drug, increased sweating and non-stop dancing with limitless energy) eventually causing their organs to stop functioning if left untreated. In some cases, undiagnosed heart defects can be aggravated by the effects of the drug, causing heart failure. In many cases, the user does not know what the MDMA has been cut with and so the effects of an “ecstasy” pill or the molly powder can be hard to predict.
After the peak effects of ecstasy/mollies begin to dissipate, users will often take more of the drug to increase and return to the peak euphoric effects. Many users do this to avoid what is often called “The Crash,” resulting in feelings of anxiety, depression, fatigue, exhaustion, irritability, agitation, and impulsivity. In some individuals, users become aggressive and struggle with insomnia, significant decrease in appetite, memory loss and difficulty concentrating. Repeated use of ecstasy and mollies interfere with the brain’s normal chemistry, resulting in severe mood-swings as well.
Immediate Side Effects of Abusing Ecstasy
Some of the negative side effects of abusing ecstasy and mollies (taking more than a usual dose) can occur while the user is still under the influence. Some of these side effects include:
- Impaired judgment
- Trouble sleeping
- Muscle tension
- Blurred vision
- Teeth clenching or grinding
Long-Term Effects of Ecstasy/Molly Abuse
Long-term use of MDMA may lead to compulsive behaviours and neglect of important responsibilities such as work, school, commitments, and relationships. This shift in priorities can mark the beginning of an addiction or substance use disorder. Individuals who use ecstasy and/or mollies long-term have much higher rates of engaging in impulsive, dangerous behaviour or illegal activity to fund their addiction or to stay close to their dealer.
Continued use of ecstasy and/or mollies can confuse the brain’s reward and pleasure centres as well as cause long-term damage to nerves, the brain and other vital organs. These long-term side effects also include:
- Nerve degeneration
- Depression, anxiety and memory loss
- Kidney failure
- Long-lasting brain damage
- Cardiovascular collapse
The journal, Clinical Correlations, reports that long-term ecstasy and/or molly use can lead to significant cognitive issues, including difficulties with executive processing, problem-solving, logical reasoning, and emotional intelligence, as well as overall mental dysfunction. Individuals who use ecstasy regularly may have trouble regulating their emotions or feeling any kind of pleasure whatsoever without the drug. Suicidal thoughts, behaviours, and actions may also result from ecstasy/molly withdrawal.
Ecstasy/Molly and Brain Damage
Recent research has shown that brain damage can occur due to the use of ecstasy and/or mollies, even after only brief exposure. This damage can last for many years. A few symptoms caused by this damage include increased anxiety, depression, confusion, memory issues, problems with cognitive ability, and poor performance on tests. Long term effects can amplify these symptoms, resulting in severe brain damage.
Recognizing an Ecstasy/Molly Addiction
Ecstasy and molly abuse usually begins out of curiosity or experimentation, but continued abuse can turn into addiction. Signs of addiction include using the drug frequently and being unable to have fun or feel normal without it. Addiction is characterized by an unnatural compulsion to use the drug without regard to negative consequences.
Signs of an ecstasy/molly addiction include:
- Changes in social circle
- Sudden difficulty meeting daily responsibilities
- Reluctance to attend social or family events where ecstasy will be unavailable
- Lying or secretive behaviour
- Financial difficulties
- Legal problems
- Relationship issues
- Inability or unwillingness to quit when ecstasy abuse causes problems
- Hiding the drug around the home
- Mood swings
- Depression and over sleeping when not using
Withdrawal and Treatment of an Ecstasy or Molly Addiction
Taking ecstasy or mollies increases the activity of neurotransmitters—specifically those that influence feelings of happiness and love—in the brain. This creates the euphoric high and positive emotions associated with using the drug. However, this increase in activity also quickly depletes the brain’s supply of the chemicals needed to feel this way.
After prolonged use, the brain can become dependent on ecstasy/molly to function and experience these positive feelings. When someone quits taking the drug, they will go through withdrawal as their brain tries to relearn how to operate properly without it. During withdrawal, users typically experience the opposite of what they felt while high, like depression and anxiety. They will also intensely crave the drug.
Symptoms of Ecstasy/Molly Withdrawal
Withdrawal from ecstasy and/or mollies can produce serious psychological symptoms and some users may experience physical discomfort. Ecstasy/molly withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of appetite
- Memory problems
- Changes in self-perception
Although ecstasy/molly withdrawal does not typically produce dangerous physical symptoms, the powerful psychological withdrawal can lead many users to relapse.
Relapse during the withdrawal process is especially dangerous because the user’s tolerance has already started to decrease. If they attempt to use the same amount of ecstasy or molly as they were using previously, they are at an increased risk of overdose—which can be fatal.
Managing the symptoms of withdrawal from ecstasy/mollies—especially the feelings of depression, which are often severe—can be difficult for a person to do on their own and inpatient care is strongly recommended.
The Lighthouse Bali is one of the only rehabs in Bali that can offer a medically assisted detox from ecstasy/mollies. A medical detox involves the use of prescribed medication to help alleviate some of the withdrawal symptoms – this is by far the safest and most comfortable way to detox from the drug.
Inpatient Care and Rehab
The Lighthouse Bali’s proven combination of an initial Primary Inpatient Program*1 followed by Outpatient Care and Ongoing Therapy has helped ecstasy and molly (MDMA) addicts from around the world get their lives back on track. Through individually tailored treatment, professional therapy, medically assisted detox (if required), and compassionate support, you will be given the tools you need to ensure the best possible chances of a long term recovery.
If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, we urge you to reach out and contact us in confidence. Our private programs are tailormade to suit individual needs and our doctorate level clinical staff have extensive experience in the field of addiction. If you are not currently in Bali but would like to begin a recovery program immediately, contact us and we may be able to arrange a VISA for entry in to Indonesia. We also have online recovery options available which can be taken should you not wish to travel.
To talk to one of our team members, contact us on WhatsApp or by Phone. Alternatively, send us an email and we will either answer your questions in writing or call you back, according to your preference (contact us).
We understand how difficult it can be to reach out for help but it’s the first step towards recovery and a happier, healthier way of living.
*1 The duration of Primary Inpatient Programs and Outpatient Care varies according to individual circumstances. Both Inpatient and Outpatient treatment is based around monthly (28 day) increments. As a general guideline we recommend between one to three months Primary Inpatient Programs for ecstasy/molly (MDMA) users, followed by one to two months Outpatient Care in Bali, and up to six months of ongoing therapy (by Zoom or Skype from home). Program durations are dependent on individual circumstances – no two addictions or individuals are the same. The longer you stay in rehab, the better your chances of staying clean when you return home.