Ecstasy Facts

MDMA, or ecstasy, is a street drug of the psychedelic variety that is popular especially at raves, night clubs, music festivals and in similar scenes. This drug is taken orally and usually comes in the form of a colorful little pill. Ecstasy pills usually have some sort of symbol or popular logo on them in order for the people taking them to identify which “brand” it is. This drug is classified as an “empathogen”, the only drug of this kind. The word empathogen is used because while high on ecstasy the user gets a strong sense of empathy for other people. It’s a unique and intense type of psychedelic and over 12 million people have used ecstasy in the Untied States.

Ecstasy Immediate Effects

The high from ecstasy is often described as an intensely euphoric rush, energy coursing through the body, increased tactile sensations and sometimes other perceptions, a boost of confidence, distortions in time and perceptions and a very strong sense of empathy. It’s a very intense high, and sometimes it can be overwhelming or even out of hand. A lot of times, when the high gets out of hand, it can lead to a psychotic, hallucinatory or delusive state. The person not might be aware of what’s going on, especially if they don’t have much experience with the drug.

The low which comes when someone crashes from the high can be just as intense. It usually includes depression, insomnia and loss of appetite for up to a few days. The depression can get really severe depending on the individual and especially in cases where one is prone to getting depressed.

What Does Ecstasy Contain?

Ecstasy is MDMA but might contain adulterants, depending on the batch you buy. Some ecstasy pills have amphetamine (commonly known as speed) in them, while others might have LSD or caffeine. Sometimes it could be a combination of these. Ketamine is another one. Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic that can cause a detached, dreamlike state and make it difficult to move for the user. Some other adulterants that have been found in ecstasy are aspirin and other over-the-counter drugs. Additionally, atropine has been found in ecstasy at times. Atropine can be dangerous depending on the amount that is taken.


  • Around 14.2 million people have reported using ecstasy at least once.
  • About 80% of the emergency department visits in 2008 involved the use of ecstasy.
  • It is estimated that 92% of people who have used ecstasy will end up trying other illegal street drugs.
  • Between 2004 and 2009, ecstasy seizures by law enforcement officials increased 594%.

Ecstasy Terms

Ecstasy has its own lingo that is popular with the groups of people using it. For instance, “Rolling” is the most popular and common term used to describe being high on ecstasy. When ecstasy is taken with LSD it’s called “Candy flipping”. Ecstasy taken with ketamine is known as “Kitty flipping”. Ecstasy taken with psilocybin (a hallucinogen) is called “Hippy flipping”. On the street you might hear ecstasy referred to as “E”, “Adam” or “Molly” (its most popular street name). Some other street nicknames for ecstasy are:

  • X or XTC
  • Beans
  • Candy
  • Dancing Shoes
  • Disco Biscuits
  • Doves
  • E-Bomb
  • Egg Rolls
  • Happy Pill
  • Hug Drug
  • Love Drug
  • Malcolm or Malcolm X
  • Scooby Snacks
  • Smartees
  • Sweets
  • Skittles
  • Thizz
  • Vitamin E or Vitamin X
  • Vowels

Other terms for abusing or using ecstasy are Drop, Double Drop, Thizzing, Flip, Flipping, Roll, Cuddle Puddle, E-Puddle, E-tard, Raver and Raving.

Short-term Effects and Effects Down The Road

Some of the dangerous short-term effects from using this drug are:

  • Nausea
  • High blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Heatstroke
  • Hyperthermia
  • Blurred vision
  • Muscle tension
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Chills
  • Confusion
  • Teeth grinding
  • Jaw clenching
  • Paranoia
  • Aggression
  • Faintness
  • Psychosis

Some long term effects from using are:

  • Permanent brain damage
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Bad memory or loss of memory
  • Difficulties sleeping
  • Psychosis
  • Cardiovascular collapse
  • Anxiety
  • Kidney failure
  • Easily catching the common flu or cold

Ecstasy And The Brain

Researchers have found that heavy MDMA users have experienced brain damage that’s long-lasting, such as confusion, depression, memory issues and problems with attention and keeping focused. This has to do with the fact that the brain no longer has enough serotonin, as a lot was depleted from using ecstasy. Serotonin is triggered by the drug, which is how it induces the various sensations and euphoric rush when you’re high on it. There hasn’t been enough research into this in order to conclude whether or not some of these heavy and long lasting aftereffects are reversible.

Is Ecstasy Addictive?

Researchers are still on the fence in regard to ecstasy’s addictive properties. There’s no consensus as of yet, as it seems like some people only use ecstasy once or a few times while others end up using more often. However, some users have definitely reported experiences dependance, withdrawal, craving and tolerance all relating to ecstasy. The withdrawal claimed to be experienced after regular use of the drug is lessened or abruptly stopped are things like fatigue, loss of appetite, depression and trouble concentrating. Coincidentally, or not, these are the same side effects that can occur long term from even having done ecstasy a few times. So it really is hard to tell until further research.

How Can You Tell If Someone You Know Is Using

It may be harder to tell if someone you know is using ecstasy in compared to some of the more “grittier” street drugs out there, especially because ecstasy most commonly comes in the form of tiny pills that are easy to hide and this drug (unless injected, which is more of a rarity) doesn’t include any drug paraphernalia. One common sign that someone is using ecstasy could be if they’re going through mood swings. This is obvious because while they’re high, they are going to be experiencing emotional warmth, mental stimulation, increased energy and seem wide awake as well as very friendly. These are all outward signs that will be very obvious to the observer. However, when they aren’t high on the drug, they are going to dip and crash, experiencing the low which will also be easily seen. It might seem like they are on an emotional roller coaster because of this. If someone you care about is using or abusing ecstasy, it’s important to educate them on the facts of this harmful substance because it can be dangerous especially taking into consideration how it has evolved with the diversity of adulterants found in this drug.

By Robert O. Newman II, ICDAC, ICPS, CIP