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Are There Long-Term Effects From Using the Party Drug Ecstasy?

By WebMD Connect to Care Staff
The long-term side effects of drug abuse can be very harmful, and with ecstasy, it’s no different.

Ecstasy is an illegal, lab-made drug that can have dangerous effects on your body and mind. It’s also called MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine). This so-called party drug, which is usually taken by tablet or capsule, can affect your mood and distort how you perceive people and things around you, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Using ecstasy can have damaging long-term consequences, too.

Symptoms of Ecstasy Use

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that about 45 minutes after you take a dose, you may feel:

  • A greater sense of well-being
  • More energy
  • Heightened physical senses
  • More warmth and empathy toward other people
  • Willing to talk about emotional memories

You could also have bad side effects, including:

  • Overheating
  • Jaw clenching
  • Feeling disconnected from your body or thoughts
  • Nausea
  • Hot flashes or chills
  • Stiff muscles or joints

Ecstasy's Long-Term Effects 

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that if you keep using ecstasy, you may develop problems including:

  • Worse sleep
  • Less appetite
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Depression
  • Heart disease

Harshal Kirane, MD, the medical director of Wellbridge Addiction Treatment and Research, tells WebMD Connect to Care that “the repeated use of ecstasy places the user at tremendous risk for overdose and cardiovascular events such as heart attack or stroke.” 

Kirane says ongoing MDMA use can also be linked to: 

  • Damage to the brain and nervous system 
  • Changes in memory 
  • A higher risk for blood vessel problems affecting the brain

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that some of these long-term problems may not be due to ecstasy use alone. Rather, they might be connected to using ecstasy along with other drugs, like cocaine, alcohol, or marijuana. Or they might also be linked to risky ingredients in ecstasy tablets called adulterants. 

“The drug itself is challenging to study in the real world, as adulterated forms of MDMA, or completely different forms of amphetamine, are used under the umbrella term of ‘ecstasy,’” Kirane says. So, the long-term effects may vary from one particular ecstasy drug to another.

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Treatment & Resources: General Information