Ecstasy or Molly (MDMA) is a synthetic drug that has both stimulating and hallucinogenic effects, which typically lasts from 3-6 hours with a half-life of around seven hours. “Half-life” is a term that refers to the time it takes for half of a dose of the drug to be eliminated from a person’s system.
Recreational Effects and Metabolism
When used recreationally, the user tends to feel energetic, euphoric, and have an increase in empathy and libido. Ecstasy is commonly used as a party or “club” drug among young people in social environments such as bars, raves, concerts, festivals, etc.
Other drugs used for these purposes include, but are not limited to, ketamine (Special K), Rohypnol, GHB, LSD, amphetamine (Adderall), methamphetamine, and amyl nitrate (poppers). As noted, Ecstasy is a unique drug in that it can cause effects similar to those of both amphetamines or other stimulants, as well as hallucinogens.
Research has found that MDMA, when consumed orally, reaches the peak blood concentration in about two hours. At this time, users may feel the most intense effects. Over time, Ecstasy is broken down, and metabolites can be detected in a person’s urine for up to two days.
Because MDMA has a relatively short half-life, people often use more of the drug as the desired effects wear off. Although uncommon, taking doses of Ecstasy in rapid succession has been associated with dehydration, heart problems, and overdose.
Taking Ecstasy With Other Substances and Overdose
Using Ecstasy with other drugs or alcohol can be particularly dangerous for a few different reasons. One, MDMA is technically illegal and not regulated by the federal government as a standard dose. As an illicit substance, it is not manufactured or packaged according to any guidelines, and the tablets or capsules can include other psychoactive drugs or harmful ingredients.
That said, on average, a dose of Ecstasy typically falls somewhere between 10-150 mg. People who have taken multiple doses of MDMA for a prolonged period (e.g., over a long night of partying) may have consumed an amount equal to 700 mg or greater.
When higher doses are ingested, the risk of combining MDMA with other substances increases further. Many illicit pills sold as Ecstasy or Molly have been found contain other psychoactive ingredients, including cocaine, bath salts, ketamine, and even meth.
Scientists who have analyzed the chemical compounds in MDMA have found that they may vary widely. For example, one study found that nearly half of all Molly (a crystalline powder sold in tablet form) users who believed they were getting pure MDMA subsequently tested positive for synthetic cathinones, also known as bath salts.
In recent news, a star of the popular television series Storm Chasers, Joel Taylor, died in January 2018, on a cruise. The toxicology report later determined the cause of his death to be Ecstasy, although he did have other substances in his system, including traces of ketamine and Ambien.
Variation in Effects
Because Ecstasy and other MDMA drugs are likely to have other substances combined with them, this fact also influences the timeline for Ecstasy’s effects and half-life.
Other than dosage amount (including frequency and duration of use), some factors that affect how rapidly and efficiently a drug is broken down in the body include age, height and weight, individual genetics, and overall health.
Long after the desired effects of Ecstasy have worn off, unpleasant symptoms can last for as long as 24 hours, which may include the following:
- Blurry vision
- Dry mouth
- Muscle cramping or tension
- Jaw or teeth clenching
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), some of MDMA’s most unpleasant adverse effects may last up to one week and can include the following:
- Sleep disturbances
- Impaired memory and attention
- Decreased appetite and libido
- High body temperature
- Organ failure
Treatment for Ecstasy Abuse
Treatment for the abuse of any drug typically begins with a medically-assisted detox. During this process, health professionals supervise the patient, monitor withdrawal effects and vital signs, and administer medication and other medical interventions as needed.
After the body has been purged of toxins, patients are urged to undergo long-term addiction treatment. Just Believe Recovery offers programs in both inpatient and partial hospitalization formats. These programs feature evidence-based services, such as psychotherapy, individual and family counseling, substance abuse education, 12-step programs, music and art therapy, aftercare planning, and much, much more.
If you or your loved one is abusing MMDA, other drugs, or alcohol, please seek help as soon as possible. We aim to provide our clients with the tools, support, and education they need to succeed at recovery and maintain sobriety and wellness for the rest of their lives!