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Ecstasy (MDMA) - Topic Overview

Ecstasy (MDMA) is both a stimulant (amphetamine-like) and mild calming (tranquilizing) substance. Ecstasy is also called Adam, XTC, X, hug, beans, and the love drug. Ecstasy pills often have a logo, such as cartoon characters, stamped on them. This drug is most often taken as a pill, but the powder form is sometimes snorted or, rarely, injected into a vein.

This stimulant's effects help a person dance for long periods of time without getting tired. Ecstasy is said to enhance the sense of pleasure and boost self-confidence. Its hallucinogenic effects include feelings of peacefulness, acceptance, and empathy. People who use the drug claim they experience feelings of closeness with other people and want to touch or hug others.

Ecstasy causes muscle tension and jaw-clenching, which has led to the use of baby pacifiers to reduce this discomfort. It also causes nausea, blurred vision, rapid eye movement, faintness, and chills or sweating. In high doses ecstasy can cause a sharp increase in body temperature, leading to dehydration, muscle breakdown, kidney failure, or heart failure and death. A person who does not drink extra water can become severely dehydrated. When ecstasy is used with alcohol, the effects can be more harmful.

Ecstasy can cause confusion, depression, sleep problems, and severe anxiety that may last weeks after taking the drug. Over time, use of ecstasy can lead to thought and memory problems. If a rash that looks like acne develops after using ecstasy, the person may be at risk for liver damage by continuing use of the drug.

Ecstasy usually does not last in a person's system longer than 12 to 16 hours. And many general drug screening tests do not detect it unless it is specifically targeted.

Signs of use

  • Sleep problems
  • Skin rash similar to acne
  • Possession of pills stamped with cartoon or other characters or possession of a powdered substance

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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