Ecstasy, also known as MDMA or Molly, is a synthetic drug that has properties of both a stimulant and a hallucinogen.1 It alters a person’s perception of time and external stimuli, such as sound and colors, and it creates feelings of excitement and energy.
The drug is typically taken orally, but is sometimes crushed up and snorted. Ecstasy use can produce adverse side effects and has been linked to some deaths. Drinking alcohol while taking Ecstasy can increase some of the drug’s negative side effects. Many people who abuse Ecstasy also abuse alcohol and may need help for addiction to both substances.
Are You Addicted to Ecstasy and Alcohol?
Not only does Ecstasy alter perceptions of reality, it lowers inhibitions.
Ecstasy makes its users feel happy and comfortable for about six hours, and it is popular with people who go to dance clubs or other venues where drug use is the norm and where people often meet and get intimate with total strangers. Some people get addicted to Ecstasy because they want the positive feelings associated with the drug use and because they feel irritable or depressed when they come down from their high. Not everybody who uses Ecstasy socially gets addicted to it; however, you may have a problem if you exhibit any of the following symptoms:2
- You can't go to a social event without taking Ecstasy. Ecstasy helps people feel more comfortable and makes it easier for them to be social. If you depend on the drug to enhance your social skills, you might become addicted to it.
- You drink while on Ecstasy. Drinking and Ecstasy are a dangerous, often deadly combination.
- You spend a lot of time between uses thinking about using the drug or replicating your high. Ecstasy users become addicted to the way they feel when they use the drug, but if they use it too frequently they may build a tolerance to it and not be able to replicate the high they first felt. If you keep trying to reach that high but failing and spend the majority of your time thinking about getting more of the drug and trying to replicate those positive feelings, you may be addicted to Ecstasy.
If this describes you, consider calling a treatment support advisor at 1-888-919-3845 to learn more about your recovery options.
Side Effects of Taking Ecstasy with Alcoholic Drinks
Ecstasy is a so-called designer drug that is manufactured in a laboratory by chemical modification of an amphetamine molecule. Ecstasy affects several neurotransmitters—including serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine—resulting in a stimulant-like rush and pleasurable excitement.3 It also affects what the user sees, hears, and feels due to the drug’s hallucinogenic properties.
Not only does Ecstasy alter perceptions of reality, it lowers inhibitions. Ecstasy has been said to increase empathy in its users, but it may also cause users to feel more sexual than usual. Often, users will engage in sexual activity while under the drug’s influence. When Ecstasy users combine the drug with alcohol, their inhibitions toward sex may be lowered even further than when they take Ecstasy or drink alcohol alone. Combining the two can lead to increasingly risky behaviors and put users at a higher risk of exposure to STDs and communicable diseases such as HIV, as well as pregnancy.
Potential side effects of ecstasy include:3
- Rapid heartbeat.
- Increased blood pressure.
- Clenched teeth.
- Blurred vision.
- Sleep problems.
- A sudden rise in temperature.
Long-term effects of using Ecstasy can include depression, increased anxiety, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, and loss of interest in sex. Additionally, regular, sudden rises in temperatures could cause muscular damage, kidney and heart failure, and, potentially, death. When used with alcohol, Ecstasy may have an increased risk of organ damage.
One Australian study examined the alcohol consumption of Ecstasy users and found that 65% of the participants who routinely used Ecstasy also used alcohol at the same time. Not only did these participants drink alcohol while using Ecstasy, but 69% drank more than five drinks, far more than safe amounts. Those who drank alcohol were also less likely to practice safe sex.2
Treatment for Addiction to Ecstasy (MDMA) and Alcohol
Research on the addictive nature of Ecstasy is mixed but users have reported withdrawal symptoms, such as fatigue, concentration problems, depression and appetite loss, which indicate physical dependence.
Regardless of whether Ecstasy is clinically addictive, its use may become problematic for people, with treatment providing much-needed help to those individuals. At this time, there is no treatment tailored exclusively toward Ecstasy addiction, however, standard substance abuse treatment interventions are useful, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
When a person abusing Ecstasy also abuses alcohol, treatment in a detox center is usually advised to ensure that the sudden withdrawal from alcohol does not result in seizures and other severe symptoms. The person who desires treatment for his or her addiction will be evaluated by an admissions counselor. Once a person is admitted to a detox program, he or she will be evaluated by a physician within 24 hours. Nurses provide 24-hour care and evaluate the person’s physical needs throughout his or her stay. Activity groups and therapy groups may be part of the detox program.
Detox is only the beginning of treatment for addiction to Ecstasy and alcohol. Treatment may consist of a few days to a few weeks in a rehab center, depending on the recovering person’s needs.
Inpatient programs require clients to live at the rehabilitation center for a period of time. While at the rehab center, clients often receive individual and group counseling to help them stay sober and to learn to solve the problems that motivated them to begin using Ecstasy and alcohol. Family members may also get counseling to help them understand what their loved one is going through, how best to help them and how to resolve relationship problems stemming from the addictive behavior.
Some Ecstasy users prefer to get treatment on an outpatient basis. This allows them to continue working or living with their families while going through therapy or other treatments for ecstasy abuse. Some people begin in an inpatient program and then switch to an outpatient program after making suitable progress toward sobriety.
If you’re concerned that the co-abuse of alcohol and Ecstasy is impacting your health, or that of someone close to you, substance abuse treatment programs can help. Call us at 1-888-919-3845 to speak with a treatment support advisor about your recovery options.
- The National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2013). MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly).
- Breen, C., Degenhardt, L., Kinner, S., Bruno, R., Jenkinson, R., Matthews, A., Newman, J. (2006). Alcohol use and risk taking among regular Ecstasy users. Substance Use and Misuse, 41(8), 1095–1099.
- The National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). DrugFacts: MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly).