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What is MDMA? (Ecstasy/Molly) | La Hacienda

MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly)

What is MDMA?

3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is a synthetic drug that affects moods and awareness of surrounding conditions. Chemically similar to both stimulants and hallucinogens, MDMA produces feelings of increased energy, pleasure, and emotional warmth, but it also distorts sensory and time perception.

In 1985 the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) labeled MDMA as an illegal drug with no reasonable medicinal use. It is also illegal in the United Kingdom where conviction of use or sale also includes prison time and an unlimited fine.

Will MDMA Always be Listed with Illicit Drugs?

Clinical trials of MDMA use continue to find if it has healing qualities in the treatment of autistic adults and terminally ill patients who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety.

Success of initial trials has proponents aiming for approval for these purposes by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration, which granted MDMA-assisted psychotherapy breakthrough therapy status in 2017.

What does MDMA Look Like?

Ecstasy comes in either a crystalline powder form or pill. When in powder form it is called by its chemical name, MDMA.

Ecstasy pills can be colored, white, square, round, or pressed into any shape. Ecstasy powder looks like white/grey crystals and may be called Mandy or MD. Some pills are stamped with a design, including fake company logos.

What Does it Smell and Taste like?

MDMA is usually rubbed (dabbed) into the gums while Ecstasy pills are usually swallowed. They both taste unpleasant and bitter.

Users say its subjective effects are felt within 30 to 60 minutes.

How Does MDMA Affect the Brain?

MDMA increases the activity of these three brain chemicals:

  • Serotonin—affects appetite, sleep, mood, and other functions. It also triggers hormones that affect sexual arousal and trust. The release of large amounts of serotonin likely causes the elevated mood, empathy, and emotional closeness felt by the MDMA user.
  • Dopamine—produces increased activity and energy and acts on the reward system that reinforces certain behaviors.
  • Norepinephrine—increases blood pressure and heart rate which may be risky for people with blood vessel or heart problems.

Side Effects of MDMA

You may experience these adverse effects when using MDMA (Ecstasy):

  • Enlarged pupils
  • Teeth grinding or jaw clenching
  • Excessive sweating and skin tingles
  • Reduced appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Heightened senses (sight, hearing and touch)
  • Heat stroke
  • Restless legs
  • Drinking extreme amounts of water (can cause death)
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Dehydration

Taking large amounts of MDMA or using portions from a strong batch may cause floating sensations perceptual changes, such as visual and auditory hallucinations, out-of-character or irrational behavior, anxiety, racing heartbeat, irritability, high body temperature, paranoia, and aggression, vomiting, or convulsions.

MDMA use can place an enormous strain on the cardiovascular system and other parts of the body, potentially leading to a stroke.

MDMA and Body Temperature

The stimulant properties of MDMA (Ecstasy) lead to the tendency for higher body temperatures. This increase is called hyperthermia. Individuals who use more of the drug will quickly become overheated. This can lead to a spike in temperature that occasionally results in kidney, liver, or heart failure, and even death.

How Long Does MDMA’s Effects Endure?

The effects of MDMA can last anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. Users might still experience some physical effects, such as difficulty sleeping or a rapid heartbeat, for a few hours after the “high” feeling dissipates–especially when high doses of MDMA are taken.

Some people report feeling low or down in mood the next day. This is known as the “comedown,” and may last for several days.

MDMA can normally be detected in a urine test somewhere between 1 to 4 days after taking it.

MDMA Drug Abuse

As with other illicit substances, taking MDMA at high doses for extended periods can result in dependence and other harmful health effects.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), states that chronic use and long-term users of MDMA may experience physical or psychological dependence including withdrawal symptoms.

Also, MDMA use increases the risk of hyponatremia–an abnormally low sodium concentration in the blood. Ecstasy associated hyponatremia is especially a problem for women.

Can you Become Addicted to MDMA?

There is disagreement about what constitutes MDMA addiction or whether it is addictive at all. Compared to other substances, there is a low risk to develop an MDMA addiction. MDMA use with other drugs, however, compounds the possibility of addiction.

Certain emotional and physical effects of MDMA chronic use suggest that an individual needs to be evaluated for a substance use disorder. An evaluation can determine if a person meets the criteria for MDMA addiction.

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the American Psychological Association (APA), some of these behaviors include:

Alternating Periods of Hyperactivity or Extreme Sociability

MDMA use causes heightened energy levels and sociability but once the substance is eliminated from the individual’s system, they become depressed and lethargic. Chronic MDMA users often display periods of extreme talkativeness, energy, sociability etc., in social situations where they use the drug. These are followed by periods of irritability, isolation, depression, and lethargy.

Overheating Easily During Social Activities

Using MDMA causes stimulant effects that result in the arousal of an individual’s sympathetic nervous system. This results in users becoming overheated and sweating profusely typically when they are in crowded conditions, such as clubs or parties.

Displaying Periodic Psychiatric/Cognitive Symptoms

Individuals who abuse MDMA often experience periodic memory loss, confusion, and hallucinations. The repeated intense release of neurotransmitters followed by neurotransmitter depletion, may cause permanent damage.

What is an MDMA Overdose?

Overdosing on MDMA means taking more than the normal recreational dose. MDMA (Ecstasy) overdose can cause a spike in body temperature, seizures, and foaming at the mouth. This can lead to heatstroke or the disruption of an underlying heart condition, both of which can become fatal.

MDMA and Other Drugs

Some pills sold as MDMA (Ecstasy) contain other substances that are more dangerous and take longer to “kick in.” Adverse effects may be related to other drugs sold in combination with MDMA, such as alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, or other adulterants commonly found in MDMA tablets. Molly often contains not only pure MDMA but also other drugs that are dangerous when taken together.

Addiction Care at La Hacienda Treatment Center

La Hacienda Treatment Center Campus | MDMA | La Hacienda

Successful treatment of drug addiction at La Hacienda Treatment Center is based on medically supervised detoxification, around-the-clock nursing care, and solid counseling administered by a competent and empathetic clinical staff.

In addition to an individualized treatment plan, patients receive a solid introduction to the 12-steps which give them a path to a new, more-rewarding life free of drugs and alcohol.

If you or a loved one is struggling with MDMA use, other drugs, or alcohol addiction, please call and speak with one of our trained on-site admission specialists at (800) 749-6160.

MDMA Use and Harmful Health Effects According to National Institutes | La Hacienda


Molly is a street name for MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine), a popular rave drug used at music festivals and nightclubs.

Ecstasy Pills | La Hacienda


Ecstasy, also commonly known as “Molly,” is a synthetic drug known primarily for its stimulant and hallucinogenic effects.

Rave Attendees | La Hacienda

Rave Attendees and Illicit Drug Use

Rave attendees were more likely than non-attendees to report use of an illicit drug other than marijuana (35.5% vs. 15.6%). Attendees were more likely to report use of each of the 18 drugs assessed, and attendees were more likely to report more frequent use (more than 6 times) of each drug.

How Long Does Molly Last? | La Hacienda

How Long Does the Effect of Molly Last?

According to some research, Molly is typically detectable for 24–72 hours, but it can remain in small amounts for up to 5 days. Because tolerance increases with use, chronic use can cause Molly to remain detectable in the body for up to a week later.