Ecstasy is a Schedule I controlled substance which impacts the brain and nervous system in the body. Learn more about the effects of ecstasy and how to treat addiction to the drug.



Available primarily in tablet forms, Ecstasy is used recreationally in parties or raves for its stimulant and mild hallucinogenic properties. Tablets sold as ecstasy typically contain 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine (MDMA) but may also be mixed with caffeine, ephedrine, dextromethorphan, amphetamine, methamphetamine and ketamine. Ecstasy is typically taken through oral, sublingual, insufflation, inhalation, injection or rectally. MDMA may produce euphoria and a sense of intimacy with others along with mild psychedelic effects. How and why the body experiences the effects can vary person to person.


How Ecstasy Works

MDMA is a phenylethylamine which triggers stimulant and psychedelic effects in the brain followed by the body. MDMA does not act by releasing serotonin, rather, it binds to it and blocks the transporter. Typical effects of the drug may include:

  • Loss of control of body movements
  • Dilated pupils
  • Dry mouth
  • Involuntary jaw clenching
  • Mild visual disturbances (double vision)
  • Muscle tension
  • Sweating


MDMA works by increasing levels of two neurotransmitters in the central nervous system: norepinephrine and dopamine. Serotonin-producing neurons are destroyed which play a direct role in regulating:

  • Mood
  • Sexual activity
  • Sleep
  • Sensitivity to pain


Psychological dependence is possible even if physical dependence on ecstasy is rare. Avoidance of larger or chronic dosing of MDMA is recommended to steer clear of dependence issues. Repeated or large doses of ecstasy may cause permanent harm and damage or produce negative effects of potential neurotoxicity (neural damage). The brain may not fully recover its full function following this brain damage.


How Long Ecstasy Works

The effects of ecstasy may only last an hour or more, depending on the dose. Other general effects may last approximately 2-3 hours. LSD is sometimes used in combination with MDMA to increase its duration of effects. Unwanted effects usually are gone within 24 hours although confusion, depression and anxiety may last several weeks.


Does Ecstasy Work

MDMA impacts individuals differently including tolerance levels which develop after chronic use and can lead to increased dosage. There is currently no legitimate use for ecstasy within the United States. The reality is ecstasy can have a more negative impact on one person while not having as much of an impact on another. It all really depends on how the individual responds to the drug. Ecstasy is a drug which can have detrimental effects on a person when used long term and it is worth noting the consequences before continuing to use on a consistent basis.


Hired Power provides tools and resources to support individuals and families who need information about recovery from addiction. Call us to find out how we can support your journey to recovery from drugs, alcohol or other substances.