Ecstacy dependence



What is ”Ecstacy”?

Ecstacy/MDMA is a stimulant and hallucinogen used to improve mood and to maintain energy, often for all-night dance parties. Long-term use may cause damage to the brain’s ability to regulate sleep, pain, memory and emotions.

The pure form of MDMA is a white crystalline powder. Although it’s increasingly sold as powder in a plastic bag, it’s traditionally and more widely available as either a pressed tablet, often branded with a symbol of some sort, or a capsule. The active oral dose of the drug is at least 75 mg’s, with most pills containing 80-120 mg’s. MDMA/Ecstasy is produced in clandestine laboratories, and is seldom pure.  The amount in a capsule or tablet is likely to vary considerably, which could lead to overdoses.

What happens when you take it?

A typical dose has an onset of about 20 to 60 minutes.  Users feel a euphoric effect that will last about 3 to 5 hours.   Higher doses can cause confusion, anxiety, depression and extreme physical fatigue, which may last as long as two days.

Side effects & withdrawal symptoms:

Psychological difficulties, including confusion, depression, sleep problems, drug craving, severe anxiety, and paranoia can occur during and sometimes weeks after taking MDMA (Psychotic episodes have been reported).

Physical symptoms such as muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, rapid eye movement, faintness, and chills or sweating cn also occur. Increased heart, blood pressure, pulse and body temperature. (This drug is a special risk for people with heart disease, high blood pressure or circulatory problems.)

The physical side effects that can occur while taking it, can last for weeks. Users often experience muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, rapid eye movement, faintness, and chills or sweating. MDMA is very dangerous for those individuals with circulatory or heart disease, because the drug increases the heart rate and blood pressure. Death can occur from heat stroke.

 Long term effects:

Potential neurotoxicity:

Neurotoxicity occurs when exposure to natural or artificial toxic substances, which are called neurotoxins, alters the normal activity of the nervous system in such a way as to cause damage to nervous tissue. It disrupt or even kill neurons and cause physical brain damage.

Brain & liver damage

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Drug detection times

Please use these figures as a guide only:

Alcohol: 3-5 days in urine, 10-12 hours in blood
Amphetamines: 1-3 days in urine and around 12 hours in blood
Barbiturates: 2-4 days in urine and 1-2 days in blood
Benzodiazepines: 3-6 weeks in urine and 2-3 days in blood
Cannabis: 7-30 days in urine and up to 2 weeks in blood
Cocaine: 3-4 days in urine and 1-2 days in blood
Codeine: 1 day in urine and up to 12 hours in blood
Heroin: 3-4 days in urine and up to 12 hours in blood
LSD: 1-3 days in urine and up to 2-3 hours in blood
MDMA (ecstasy): 3-4 days in urine and 1-2 days in blood
Methamphetamine (crystal meth): 3-6 days in urine and 24 – 72 hours in blood
Methadone: 3-4 days in urine and 24-36 hours in blood
Morphine: 2-3 days in urine and 6-8 hours in blood

Get help


You can do a self-test quiz on addiction, the Substance Abuse Quiz.

Counseling helpline

If you have more questions, you can chat to an online facilitator on LIVE CHAT. It is a text-based chat and you may remain anonymous.


Terminology and Information on Drugs, Revised Edition, United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, New York, 1999.

Merck Index, 13th Edition, Merck & Co., Inc., Whitehouse Station NJ, 2001.


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