MDMA and Ecstasy Addiction

MDMA or ecstasy pills can come in various shapes and colours

MDMA and Ecstasy Pills

A popular party and clubbing drug, Methylenedioxymethamphetamine is a synthetic drug, typically referred to as MDMA. MDMA powder is generally rubbed on the gums or swallowed in a cigarette paper, called “bombing”, or snorted. Ecstasy pills are typically swallowed, although they may also be crushed and snorted. 

Street Names for MDMA and Ecstasy Pills

  • Molly
  • Superman
  • Mandy
  • Eckies
  • M&M
  • Beans
  • Dizzle.

Addiction Treatment for MDMA and Ecstasy Pills

MDMA therapy and treatment for addiction can help you stop using and stay clean — this can be provided at an outpatient clinic or in residential rehab. The advantage of residential rehab is you will not be able to obtain MDMA or any other substances, and you can concentrate solely on your recovery. 

Following a medical detox, if required, a stay in residential rehab will utilise scheduled sessions for counselling and treatment, combined with leisure activities to support the development of new behavioural patterns.

The NHS provides addiction treatment with medical support. However, this is provided in an outpatient capacity. In order to be eligible for residential therapy funding from the NHS, you must meet strict eligibility requirements. This can take many months to get. Additionally, you won’t likely have a choice in which residential rehab you go to, and your options will be limited. 

We treat MDMA addiction at The Lighthouse residential rehab in Essex, and if a bed opens up, a member of our team may be able to set up same-day acceptance for immediate admission. For free, personalised advice, please fill out our online evaluation form or give us a call at 0800 170 1222.

Signs and Symptoms of MDMA and Ecstasy Addiction

MDMA is an empathogen-type substance with stimulant and psychoactive properties. It induces an increase in energy, distortions of time and space, a greater appreciation of sensory stimuli and enhances feelings of empathy. When MDMA is taken on an irregular basis, it can be challenging to recognise the signs and symptoms of addiction. 

There are several warning signs of addiction you can watch out for:

  • Disconnecting from friends and relatives
  • Financial problems
  • Avoiding school or work
  • Lack of interest in pursuits and activities.

Being unable to control your intake is an acknowledged sign of addiction, regardless of whether you are driven by psychological or physical withdrawal symptoms.

Effects of MDMA

MDMA increases the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain by releasing serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Typically, it takes between 20 and 60 minutes to start feeling the effects of MDMA, and they persist over a period of three to four hours. A few of the common feelings associated with MDMA are:

  • Increased confidence
  • Feelings of energy
  • Euphoria
  • Feeling affectionate and “loved up”.

Physical signs of MDMA and ecstasy use include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Teeth grinding and clenching of the jaw
  • Feelings of nausea
  • Shivers and sweating 
  • Elevated blood pressure and heart rate 
  • Distorted vision
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Overheating and dehydration
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Irritational or impulsive behaviour.

Ecstasy Being Cut with Other Drugs Can Be Deadly

Although MDMA overdose and fatalities are extremely uncommon, ecstasy pills and MDMA powder frequently contain amphetamines, cocaine, crystal meth, ketamine and various other synthetic “designer” drugs. These substances can carry a risk of deadly overdose. 

Other reasons for ecstasy overdose are as follows: 

  • Taking a large dose of MDMA — Sometimes, people will overdose by simply taking too much, not knowing that it takes time to have an effect. 

  • Drinking too much water — Deaths related to ecstasy and MDMA may also occur due to severe dehydration or polydrug use. It is also possible to die from drinking too much water or any type of liquid. This happens as a result of a hormone that is released when you have MDMA in your system. which prevents the production of urine. This affects the salt balance in your body and can cause your brain to swell, resulting in coma and death. 

  • Antidepressants and ecstasy — The euphoria and positive effects from MDMA can also be reduced by Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and a number of different drugs used to treat mental health issues. If high quantities of MDMA is taken on these drugs, instead of increasing the effects, this will raise the risk of serotonin syndrome, a serious disorder that can be fatal.

  • Health conditions —  If you have asthma, epilepsy, high blood pressure, or a heart condition, you could have a life-threatening response to MDMA or ecstasy.

When to Call 999

If you or someone you know has used MDMA or ecstasy and has a seizure, becomes rigid, has difficulty breathing, has a fast heart rate, or becomes extremely confused and disorientated. These signs have the potential to be fatal if not treated right away.

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MDMA Withdrawal Symptoms

MDMA causes your brain processes to adapt and change after use. The effects of MDMA quickly stop as it leaves your system, and withdrawal symptoms could include:

  • Fatigue and sleep problems
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Heart palpations
  • Agitation and anxiety
  • Depression
  • Paranoia and delusions
  • Panic attacks
  • Memory and concentration problems. 

The duration of use, quantity, and other factors, including your age and physical and mental health, will all affect how severe these adverse effects will be.

At Step by Step Recovery, we provide non-judgmental support to help individuals beat addiction permanently. If you need advice about addiction, please complete our online assessment form or call our understanding team on 0800 170 1222 for free, and they will advise you about our addiction treatment options.

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Ecstasy FAQ

Various tests for MDMA sensitivity have different sensitivity windows:

  • Blood tests  — generally one to two days after using ecstasy, but may occasionally still be present in the blood for a longer period of time
  • Saliva tests  — up to two days after your last dose
  • Urine tests — up to three days following consumption.

Although MDMA and ecstasy are often considered relatively low-risk drugs that do not cause significant harm, there are a number of long-term risks associated with the use of these drugs, including:


  • Liver damage and liver disease
  • Heart conditions
  • Kidney damage
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Paranoia and psychosis.

Under the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1971, MDMA is classified as a Class A substance. It’s against the law to possess these drugs, and possible penalties for possession are a prison sentence of up to seven years, a limitless penalty, or both. If you supply another person, even if you give it away, you could face a life sentence.

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Page revised in March 2023, by Matthew Reece, a certified PG cons diploma, a clinical Lead/ Senior counsellor at Step by Step Recovery.

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