Ecstasy is a popular party drug and can often be found at clubs, raves, concerts, and many other locations. Unfortunately, when people try ecstasy, also called molly, for the first time, they often don’t know the risks or how long ecstasy lasts.
Not having that critical information can make ecstasy more dangerous and leave people vulnerable to potential addiction.
Worse, ecstasy is one of the drugs most often laced with other substances, or even entirely some other drug, which can increase the danger and the risk of developing another addiction.
Let’s talk about what ecstasy is, how long the drug lasts, and other key facts you need to know about this drug.
What Is Ecstasy?
First, you need to know that ecstasy is a stimulant, making your brain release high amounts of dopamine, one of the key neurotransmitters in your reward system. That means that ecstasy makes you feel really good, but that can also set up problems if you either become addicted to the feeling or damage your body’s dopamine system.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest problems with ecstasy is one we’ve already touched on briefly. Ecstasy was originally a nickname used for MDMA (methylenedioxy-methamphetamine), but in recent years, the nickname has started being used as a cover for selling other drugs.
Molly is another nickname for MDMA, but other drugs sold as ecstasy include bath salts, cocaine, meth, ketamine, and other substances. If you get ecstasy that isn’t MDMA, you might be looking at the complications of other drugs, including not getting the same high, but also more serious complications like an overdose or interactions with other substances.
That said, there’s no guarantee that the ecstasy you buy and the ecstasy described in this article are the same drugs. So while taking illicit drugs is never safe, it’s especially important to test ecstasy as a harm reduction measure if you use it.
How Long Does Ecstasy Last?
The high from ecstasy is relatively long-lasting, which is important for you to know because the duration of a high can change how people use a drug.
For example, cocaine has a very short high, which means that cocaine users typically take several doses of the drug in a relatively short time, which can increase their risk of addiction.
LSD, sometimes called acid, on the other hand, has an exceptionally long high, which means that it’s very rare for a user to take more than one dose, which means that they don’t tend to need as much of the drug on hand, and more occasional use is more common.
Ecstasy is the in the middle of those two examples. It can be addictive, so people might try to stay on ecstasy as much as possible once they have an addiction, but the drug lasts a lot longer than cocaine, so users don’t need as much on hand.
Typically, ecstasy will kick in within about 30 minutes of taking the drug, and the resulting high lasts between three and six hours.
What Does Ecstasy Do?
Understanding how a drug works is as important as understanding how long it lasts. So, now that you know how long ecstasy lasts, let’s talk about what causes the high.
We’re going to separate the actions of ecstasy into two categories. The effects are what ecstasy does that motivates people to take the drug in the first place, and side effects are unintentional consequences of the drug. Side effects can be unpleasant and potentially dangerous.
Like all effects and side effects, this isn’t a complete list of everything that can happen while you’re on ecstasy. There is always the possibility that you will have unanticipated adverse reactions, drug interactions, or allergic reactions.
And remember, we’re talking about MDMA, not the other drugs and substances that sometimes masquerade as ecstasy on the streets.
- Warm feeling
- Increased trust
- Increased energy
- Heightened senses
- Lowered inhibitions
These feelings can leave some people at greater risk, especially in certain settings. It’s much more common for people on MDMA to behave in ways they wouldn’t if they were sober, especially sexually. That can be dangerous, especially in the settings where MDMA use is most common.
Ecstasy Side Effects
Ecstasy side effects may or may not happen and can range in severity from barely noticeable to needing immediate medical attention.
- Faster heart rate
- Increased respiration
- Increased blood pressure
- Jaw clenching
- Teeth grinding
- Dilated pupils
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Increased thirst (can be dangerous and may deplete electrolytes. Has been fatal in some cases)
People who take ecstasy should be aware that some of these complications can be dangerous and that you may need medical attention after taking ecstasy, even if you take reasonable precautions.
In addition to these problems, you can also overdose on ecstasy. Common symptoms of an overdose include increased body temperature, high blood pressure, muscle twitching and cramps, changes in your heart rate, vomiting, dizziness and confusion, and seizures. If any of these symptoms appear or get worse while taking ecstasy, it’s important to get medical attention as soon as possible.
Does Ecstasy Have Any Long-Term Effects?
Some drugs that flood your body’s dopamine system, the way ecstasy does, have been shown to have potential long-term impacts on your mood, mental state, and normal brain functions.
However, those side effects are generally less acute and concerning than other problems with ecstasy use.
For instance, people who use ecstasy may experience kidney failure, especially if they overhydrate and aren’t getting the necessary electrolytes. Kidney failure may be reversible in some cases, but it may also become a permanent problem requiring long-term treatment.
Heart attacks and other circulatory problems may also occur because of the higher heart rate and blood pressure your body experiences while on ecstasy.
Lastly, depending on the dose and what other substances you are using simultaneously as ecstasy, ecstasy has also been connected to liver damage. While your liver can recover from most damage given enough time, liver damage can be severe and lead to severe complications, especially if you continue using drugs.
These are all direct risks from ecstasy, but there are other potential long-term risks.
For instance, people who take ecstasy are much more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors while taking the drug, leading to an increased risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases and an elevated risk of unintended pregnancy.
Additionally, while ecstasy can be used without needles, people who choose to inject the drug may be at increased risk of blood poisoning, abscesses, and other complications, especially if they use shared needles or repeatedly use the same needle.
Can You Get Addicted To Ecstasy?
The science on whether addiction is possible with ecstasy is mixed, but it does seem to show that there is at least some chance of addiction.
Users have also reported that ecstasy is hard to stop using in some cases, with behaviors and experiences that look like an addiction.
The truth is that assuming ecstasy does addict the same way as other drugs, the risk of physical addiction seems lower than with most illicit drugs, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there.
It’s important to recognize that while addiction doesn’t always look or feel the same for different people or substances, it’s very easy for addictions to get out of control. Any drug with even a small risk of addiction will cause addiction in at least some people who take that drug.
And, the more often you take a drug, and the more of that drug you take per dose, the more likely you are to become addicted.
Fortunately, treatment options are available if you or someone close to you have become addicted to ecstasy.
How To Get Help
Getting help for addiction can feel overwhelming and even impossible, but more options are available than you might think.
If you are trying to find the best recovery options, it’s a good idea to talk with your primary care doctor to see if they know about addiction treatment resources in your area and can point you in a good direction.
Most of the time, there are a lot of addiction resources, so it’s a good idea to do some research and decide which treatment type and location will be best for you.
If you’re looking for a supportive, comprehensive, and multi-method treatment center that can handle even the most difficult cases, we can help. At Absolute Awakenings, we are familiar with addiction treatment, mental health treatment, and dual diagnosis treatment, so we’re ready and able to handle even the most complicated addiction situations.
Ready to learn more? Call or message Absolute Awakenings for more information about our treatment programs and options or to enroll in a program today.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly) DrugFacts. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published June 15, 2020. Accessed January 27, 2023. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/mdma-ecstasymolly
- Australia H. MDMA (ecstasy). Published July 5, 2021. Accessed January 27, 2023. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/mdma-ecstasy
- T B. Ecstasy (MDMA): Everything You’ve Been Afraid to Ask. Verywell Mind. Published June 24, 2021. Accessed January 27, 2023. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-are-the-effects-of-ecstasy-mdma-63095
- Ecstasy. Published October 29, 2020. Accessed January 27, 2023. http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/ecstasy