Ecstasy: preventing and reducing harms

Harm reduction strategies – Alcohol and Drug Foundation

Ecstasy: preventing and reducing harms

Harm reduction strategies at music events are numerous and diverse. They range from the provision of water stations and free water bottles at events, to providing ‘pass outs’ or chill out and sanctuary spaces.

They can also include engaging with expert organisations, who provide harm reduction information services and pill testing. The more that is done to address harm reduction at events, the more successful the outcomes are.


Chill out and sanctuary spaces

Environmental approaches to harm reduction focus on changing the social and physical environment and offer management and organisers an approach to harm reduction that is built in to the design of events.

They focus on creating spaces (often called chill out or sanctuary spaces), which offer respite from the event, providing a quiet, calm, comfortable and shady space for patrons to relax.

These might also be areas that provide hydration and food and can also be a good opportunity to provide health promotion information to patrons that address key issues specific to the event environment, such as information on common substances taken at these events and information on how to care for friends who might be using substances.

Chill out spaces are also key areas in which to engage in peer education interventions.

Peer education about substance use and harm at music events is an effective way of reducing immediate harm, and potentially reducing future substance use.

25 Peer-to-peer education teams are often the first point of call for patrons experiencing distress and are of critical importance to ensure that individuals seek and obtain the treatment needed.26

Chill out spaces should be clearly signposted and marked on festival and event maps and information about them should be shared in programs and promotional material.27

Peer education programs

DanceWize is a peer education program run by Harm Reduction Victoria and NSW Users and AIDS Association (NUAA). It is volunteer lead and operates at dance parties, festivals, nightclubs and events.

28 DanceWize provide judgement free chill out spaces where patrons can access accurate and credible information about drug and alcohol related harm, through both face-to-face discussion and resources, and support services.

Volunteers are first aid trained, though patrons that need medical attention are referred to onsite health providers, such as St John Ambulance. Event organisers can contact Harm Reduction Victoria or NUAA to request the presence of DanceWize at their events.

save-a-mate is a health program run by Australian Red Cross, that provides peer-to-peer information services in urban, rural and remote areas. Trained volunteers utilise chill out spaces to identify and support people who are experiencing adverse reactions to substances.29

Event organisers can contact save-a-mate via Australian Red Cross

Healthcare and first aid providers

St John Ambulance provide onsite healthcare and first aid services at events around Australia. St John team members are specifically trained to address issues that may arise from substance use at these events and can provide advice as well as medical treatment or assistance if needed.30

Event organisers can contact St John Ambulance to request a service quote.

Staff and security training

Ensuring that festival staff and security are trained appropriately to deal with people who might be taking substance is important, as the attitudes of staff and security at events has been shown to be key in reducing the potential for anti-social or aggressive behaviour as a result of substance use.31 Staff should also be trained to recognise the signs and symptoms of overdose, and how to appropriately address these situations.

Pennington Institute run overdose awareness and first aid courses around Australia, more information is available on their website.

  1. ‘The Principles of Harm Reduction’ Harm Reduction Coalition
  2. NIDA for Teens, 2015, ‘Concerts and Drugs: Is there a way to reduce the Dangers’ National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2015.
  3. Miller, B, Holder, H, Voas, R, ‘Environmental Strategies for Prevention of Drug use and Risks in Clubs’ Journal of Substance Misuse, 14 (1), 2009.
  4. Smirnov A, Najman J, Hayatbakhsh R, Plotnikov M, Wells H, Legosz M & Kemp R, ‘Young Adults’ trajectories of ecstasy use:
    A population Based Study’ Addictive Behaviour, Vol 38, 2013.
  5. Miller et al, 2009, op. cit.
  6. Day N, Criss J, Griffiths B, Gujral SK, John-Leader F, Johnston J & Pit S, ‘Music Festivals Attendees’ illicit drug use, knowledge
    and practices regarding drug content and purity: a cross sectional survey’ Harm Reduction Journal, 15 (1), 2018
  7. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016: detailed findings. Canberra, 2017.
  8. Huges C, Moxham-Hall V, Ritter A, Weatherburn D & MacCoun R, ‘The Deterrent effects of Australian street-level
    drug law enforcement on illicit drug offending at outdoor music festivals’ International Journal of Drug Policy, Vol 41, 2017.
  9. Day et al, 2018 op. cit.
  10. Ibid
  11. ‘Drug Facts: Ecstasy’ Alcohol and Drug Foundation, 2018
  12. Ibid
  13. ‘Drug use at music festivals’, 2017
  14. ‘Drug Facts: Amphetamines’ Alcohol and Drug Foundation, 2018
  15. ‘Drug Facts: Ecstasy’ Alcohol and Drug Foundation, 2018
  16. Makkai T, Macleod M, Vumbaca G, Hill P, Caldicott D, Noffs M, Tzanetis S, Hansen F, Report on Canberra GTM Harm Reduction Service, Harm Reduction Australia, 2018.
  17., 2017 op. cit.
  18. Makkai T, Macleod M, Vumbaca G, Hill P, Caldicott D, Noffs M, Tzanetis S, Hansen F, Report on Canberra GTM Harm Reduction Service, Harm Reduction Australia, 2018.
  19. Miller et al, 2009 op. cit.
  20. Miller et al, 2009 op. cit.
  21. Sillins, E, Bleeker, AM, Simpson, M, Dillon, P & Copeland, J, 2013, ‘Does peer delivered information at music events reduce ecstacy and methamphetamine use at three month follow up? Findings from a quasi-experiment across three study
    sites’ Journal of Addiction Prevention, Vol 1 (3), 2013.
  22. Smirnov, A, Najman, J, Hayatbakhsh, R, Plotnikov, M, Wells, H, Legosz, M & Kemp, R, 2013, ‘Young Adults’ trajectories of ecstasy use: A population Based Study’ Addictive Behaviour, Vol 38, 2013.
  23. Miller et al, 2009 op. cit.
  24. ‘Code of Practice for running safer music festival and events’ Victorian Department of Health, 2013
  25. Sillins E, Bleeker AM, Simpson M, Dillon P & Copeland J, 2013, ‘Does peer-delivered information at music events reduce ecstacy and methamphetamine use at three month follow up? Findings from a quasi-experiment across three study sites’ Journal of Addiction Prevention, Vol 1 (3), 2013.
  26. Victorian Department of Health, 2011 op. cit.
  27. ‘Keeping Music Festival goers safe through Harm Reduction’ Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, 2014
  28. ’DanceWise’ Harm Reduction Victoria, 2018
  29. ‘save-a-mate’ Australian Red Cross, 2018
  30. St John Ambulance, 2018
  31. Miller et al, 2009 op. cit.
  32. Makkai et al, 2018 op. cit.
  33. Ibid


Does MDMA Cause Depression and Anxiety, or Is It a Future Treatment?

Ecstasy: preventing and reducing harms

You’ve ly heard of MDMA, but you may know it better as ecstasy or molly.

A popular “club drug” in the 1980s and ’90s, more than 18 million people said they had tried MDMA at least once when asked in a 2017 National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) report.

MDMA has been in the news again lately because it may be a treatment option for severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety.

Even though the drug has been around a while, there’s still a lot we don’t know. There’s conflicting data about whether it causes depression and anxiety or helps individuals with those conditions. The answer isn’t that simple.

When MDMA is purchased illegally off the street, it’s often mixed with other drugs. That confuses the picture even more.

Let’s take a closer look at MDMA and its effects to understand how it works, whether it can be helpful, and whether it causes depression or anxiety.

Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) has both stimulant and hallucinogenic properties. It’s similar to the stimulant effects of amphetamine in many ways but also has some hallucinogenic traits mescaline or peyote.

It can bring feelings of happiness and empathy. Users report feeling energetic and more emotional. But it has negative effects, too. More on that later.

MDMA is often used with other drugs, which can increase these harmful effects.

In the brain, MDMA works by affecting and increasing three brain chemicals:

  • Serotonin affects mood, behavior, thoughts, sleep, and other body functions.
  • Dopamine affects mood, movement, and energy.
  • Norepinephrine affects heart rate and blood pressure.

MDMA starts to work within 45 minutes. Effects can last up to six hours, depending on the amount taken.


  • ecstasy
  • molly
  • X
  • XTC
  • Adam
  • Eve
  • beans
  • biscuit
  • go
  • peace
  • uppers

It’s illegal to possess or sell MDMA. The penalties can be severe, including prison sentences and fines.

In the United States, drugs are grouped into five schedule classes by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) their abuse potential.

MDMA is a Schedule I drug. This means it has the highest potential for abuse and addiction, according to the DEA. Currently, there’s no approved medical use. Other examples of Schedule I drugs include heroin and Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).

Researchers have to have special permission from the DEA to study these drugs with strict reporting and handling conditions. This can present challenges for scientists studying MDMA to learn more about its effects (good and bad).

The impact of MDMA use on the body and specifically on mood aren’t yet clear. Reactions to MDMA depend on:

  • dose taken
  • type of MDMA used
  • sex
  • if there’s a history of depression
  • other drugs taken in addition to MDMA
  • genetics
  • other individual characteristics

Some older studies found regular MDMA use can change serotonin levels in the brain, which can affect mood, feelings, and thoughts. Very little is known about long-term effects of using MDMA on memory or other brain functions.

According to NIDA, after-binge use (regular use for several days), MDMA can cause:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • irritability

Some earlier studies also link drops in serotonin levels after MDMA use to depression or suicidal thoughts. This might be temporary or last for a long time. It really depends on the person and their reaction.

MDMA is also often taken with marijuana, which can increase side effects and adverse reactions.

A recent study looked at the effects of taking both MDMA and marijuana together and found it increased psychosis. The reasons for this are unclear, but the MDMA dose might have something to do with the reaction.

Some studies show MDMA use can cause anxiety, even after only one dose. Generally, this is a mild effect. But for some people, this can be long-lasting.

most drugs, effects depend on the individual and other factors, drug dose, how often it’s used, and any prior history of anxiety, depression or panic attacks.

Scientists are still not sure how MDMA affects anxiety in those who use it. Most research data is recreational MDMA use. The purity, potency, and other environmental reasons can affect results.

MDMA isn’t a legal prescription medication. It can’t be prescribed for any condition, including depression and anxiety.

However, researchers are investigating MDMA as a potential treatment for PTSD, depression, and anxiety.

In a 2015 review of studies, the authors noted that MDMA is being considered as a treatment for depression because it may work rapidly. This is an advantage when compared with current medication options, which take days or weeks to reach therapeutic levels.

In 2019, researchers investigated MDMA for therapeutic use in treating PTSD. The trials are ongoing, but initial results suggest MDMA may be an effective addition to psychotherapy for treating some individuals with PTSD.

Although more investigation is needed, the promising results of trials using MDMA to treat individuals with PTSD have led some researchers to suggest that MDMA might also be an effective support to psychotherapy for treating individuals with:

  • depression
  • anxiety disorders
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • suicidality
  • substance use disorders
  • eating disorders

Other studies have been looking at possible benefits of MDMA for anxiety. They include anxiety from social situations in autistic adults. Doses were between 75 milligrams (mg) to 125 mg. This was a very small study, though. More data is needed to understand the long-term benefits.

Research for the treatment of anxiety related to life-threatening illness with MDMA is also being done.

We still don’t know enough about the drug’s effects on the brain. The newer studies show promise. We’ll know more about the best dose, results, and any long-term effects once these studies are completed.

potential side effects of MDMA

According to NIDA, some reported side effects of MDMA include:

  • unclear thoughts
  • high blood pressure
  • jaw clenching
  • restless legs
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • sweating
  • chills
  • hot flashes
  • headaches
  • muscle stiffness
  • problems with depth and spatial awareness (this can be dangerous when driving after using MDMA)
  • depression, anxiety, irritability, and hostility (after use)

Because MDMA is so often mixed with other drugs when sold on the street, it’s been difficult to know its full impact. Here are a few of the most serious risks:

  • Addiction. While researchers don’t know for sure whether MDMA is addictive, according to NIDA, MDMA affects the brain in similar ways as other known addictive drugs. So, it’s ly that MDMA is addictive.
  • It’s often mixed with other drugs. A main safety concern with MDMA is that it’s often mixed with other designer or novel psychoactive substances (NPS), such as amphetamines. There’s no way to know what’s in it.
  • Long-term changes in brain chemistry. Some researchers have found that MDMA may lower serotonin levels in the brain if taken for a long period of time. Other studies have shown that taking MDMA even once can lead to anxiety. In rare cases, the anxiety can be persistent.
  • Overdose. Too much MDMA can cause a sudden rise in heart rate and body temperature. This can become very serious quickly, especially in an overheated environment a crowd or concert. Call 911 immediately if you suspect on overdose.

signs of overdose

There are several other signs of overdose from MDMA. Call 911 immediately if you or someone you’re with has taken MDMA and is experiencing one or more of these symptoms:

  • body overheating (hyperthermia)
  • very high blood pressure
  • panic attacks
  • dehydration
  • seizures
  • arrhythmias (heart rhythm problem)
  • fainting or losing consciousness

Un with opioid overdose, there’s no specific medication to treat MDMA or other stimulant overdoses. Doctors have to use supportive steps to control the symptoms. These include:

  • cooling body temperature
  • lowering heart rate
  • rehydrating

Don’t take MDMA or other designer drugs to self-treat any condition. These drugs aren’t regulated.

Instead, talk to your doctor about treatment choices for depression and anxiety and the options available. Also ask about any clinical trials that might be suitable.

Remember, for research studies, the purity, potency, and dose of MDMA are carefully controlled and watched.

MDMA bought on the street or from the dark web is often mixed with other drugs, :

  • amphetamines
  • methamphetamine
  • cocaine
  • ketamine
  • aspirin

These interact and produce different reactions. There’s often no way to tell how much has been cut into your MDMA.

Where to find help today

Talk to a healthcare provider about your symptoms. You can also reach out to these organizations:

MDMA has been around for a long time. It’s now being studied for its benefits in treating severe PTSD, depression, and certain types of anxiety.

The Food and Drug Administration has granted the drug breakthrough therapy status to allow researchers to learn about its effects.

It’s not clear whether MDMA causes or helps with depression and anxiety. But research shows how it affects someone has to do with many factors, such as sex, genetics, dosage, medical history, and a person’s general health.

MDMA isn’t safe for self-dosing for anxiety or depression. The DEA considers it a Schedule I drug. There’s no consistency in the product and too much risk.

There are many legal prescription and nonprescription treatments available to treat both anxiety and depression.


Alcohol & Other Drugs

Ecstasy: preventing and reducing harms

MDMA1 is a psychoactive (mind-altering) drug that affects how we think and behave. Ecstasy and molly are common names for the drug. MDMA is a stimulant that speeds up our breathing, heart rate, thoughts and actions. But it also is sometimes considered a hallucinogen since it can alter our senses and perceptions.

MDMA was first synthesized in 1912 by a pharmaceutical company while developing a drug to control bleeding. Today it is manufactured in uncontrolled laboratories and there is no way to know what’s mixed in it. It comes in the form of tablets, capsules or powder. It is usually swallowed but sometimes is snorted (e.g., sniffed through a straw) or injected.


Why do we use MDMA?

For several decades, people have been using MDMA for various reasons. Before MDMA was classified as an illegal substance, some psychotherapists experimented with the drug as a tool to help people explore their emotions.

Today, some people continue to use the drug for emotional insight. Others use the drug to heighten their feelings of affection and empathy and connect with others. Still others use MDMA to have fun and stay active during a night out or at a party.

But any drug, MDMA can be harmful.

Many people choose not to use MDMA or to use the drug in moderation, because being less in control of their behaviour increases the lihood of making unwise choices such as having unsafe sex.

(Only about 6% of BC residents have tried MDMA, but in certain populations such as urban club-goers, use is more common.

) Using MDMA may help us feel more outgoing at a party, but repeatedly using the drug to address social anxiety may lead to harms to our health or relationships.


What happens when we use MDMA?

When swallowed, MDMA is absorbed into the bloodstream through the small intestine and stomach. When snorted, the drug is absorbed into the bloodstream through the membranes in the nose, and when injected, it goes directly into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, MDMA travels to the brain.

MDMA increases the release of naturally occurring chemicals in our brain that play a role in regulating our mood and energy level. We may feel energetic and exhilarated, peaceful and loving.

But the effects of MDMA can be different for different people. Instead of feeling happy and content, some of us may feel anxious or nervous.

Some of the factors that can influence how MDMA will affect us include our

  • past experiences with the drug,
  • present mood and surroundings, and
  • mental and physical health condition.

Impact on well-being

MDMA use can have positive effects but it can also be harmful to our well-being. For instance, many people who use MDMA say it helps them dance for a long time.

But combining MDMA with dancing in a hot room may lead to a dangerous increase in body temperature and loss of body fluid. The consequences can be life-threatening and include cardiovascular, kidney and liver impairment.

And since it is not possible to know the purity and content of the drug, we can accidentally use too much or ingest another dangerous substance.

Using MDMA can also be both beneficial and harmful to our social lives. Small amounts of MDMA may help us feel more confident and outgoing when socializing. But increased openness and affection may lead us to take risks such as having unprotected sex. And using more than moderate amounts can make us feel anxious, affecting our interactions with others.

Studies on the effects of MDMA over time are inconclusive. MDMA use is associated with negative effects on memory. But some researchers suggest the impact may be minimal. Research suggests a link between MDMA use and depression. But it is not clear how much of the association is MDMA and how much is due to other factors such as vulnerability to depression.

Signs of acute adverse effects

It is important to take breaks from dancing, rest in a cool room and drink moderate amounts of water (an upper level of 500 ml per hour).

Signs of overheating and dehydration include a strong, rapid pulse, lack of sweating, dry flushed skin, faintness, staggering, confusion and coma.

Signs of diluted sodium levels (from drinking too much water) include nausea, headache, confusion, fatigue, restlessness and irritability, muscle weakness, spasms or cramps, seizures and coma.

If someone you know shows signs of adverse effects, call 911 right away. Remain with the person and try to get them to a cool place. If the person is conscious, try to keep them awake. If the person is unconscious, roll them onto their side into the recovery position so they won’t choke if they throw up.

  1. Raise the person’s closest arm above their head. Prepare the person to roll toward you.
  2. Gently roll the person’s entire body toward you. Guard their head while you roll them.
  3. Tilt the person’s head to keep their airway open. Tuck their nearest hand under their cheek to help keep their head tilted.


When is using MDMA a problem?

Using MDMA is a problem when it negatively affects our life or the lives of others.

Many of us may think this refers only to people who regularly use large amounts, but even a single occasion of use can lead to a problem.

For instance, we may make a poor decision that results in problems with relationships or the law. What’s important to recognize is the potential for adverse consequences of use in any context and over time.

MDMA use, especially regular use, by young people has particular risks. other psychoactive drugs, MDMA can interfere with normal brain development. Early use can also interfere with developing normal patterns of social interaction with peers and have a negative impact on well-being.

One consequence that can develop is tolerance. This happens when it takes more of the drug to achieve the positive effects. While most people who use MDMA do not become dependent on the drug, those who use MDMA frequently over a period of time may begin to feel they need the drug to function and feel normal.

The reasons people use MDMA influence their risk of developing problems. For instance, if a person uses MDMA to have fun, only occasional social use may follow. But when a person uses MDMA to cope with a long-term problem such as social anxiety, then more long-lasting and intense use may follow.

Mixing MDMA with other substances

People sometimes mix MDMA with other substances to experience different feelings or to offset the effects. For instance, a person may use a sleeping pill to help them relax and rest after using MDMA. But combining substances is risky as they can act in unexpected ways. The following are some common combinations and possible results.

Alcohol and other depressants

These are substances that slow down our heart and make us feel more relaxed. Depressants affect coordination and other skills needed for safe driving. Combining MDMA with depressants may cloud our judgment about how intoxicated we are, potentially leading to risky decisions such as driving a vehicle.


These are substances such as methamphetamine that increase our heart rate, breathing, thoughts and actions. Since MDMA is also a stimulant, using it with other drugs in the same category can intensify these effects and increase our chance of experiencing problems such as rapid heart rate and agitation.


Combining cannabis with MDMA may mask the effects of each drug. This may lessen our control over our behaviour, increasing the chances we may take risks that result in problems.


When prescription or over-the-counter medications are used with MDMA, there is the potential for negative side effects or for the medicinal benefits to cancel out. Taking the time to read medication labels or consulting with a healthcare professional can reduce these risks.


How to make healthier choices about MDMA

Whenever we choose to use MDMA, it is helpful to know what steps we can take to ensure that our use is the least harmful possible. Some of the risks of using MDMA involve not knowing for certain what is contained in a particular pill, capsule or powder. A testing kit can provide some information.

For example, it may show the presence of MDMA. But this type of test gives no information about the amount. And some substances, including those with toxins, may go undetected. Laboratory tests, on the other hand, can provide more precise information about the presence and amount of a variety of substances.

Not too much. Managing the amount we use in a given period can help to decrease negative effects.

Tip: Buy less so you use less, and set a limit on how much you will use at one time.

Not too often. Limiting how much we use helps reduce harms to ourselves and others over time.

Tip: Think about when you are ly to use and then try to break the pattern by consciously planning other activities (e.g., spend time with a friend who doesn’t use, go to the gym).

Only in safe contexts. Making informed decisions about where and with whom we use MDMA helps to minimize harms.

Tip: If going out dancing, stay in the company of trusted friends, take breaks in a cool room and drink moderate amounts of water.

  • Plan a safe way to get home before even leaving the house.
  • Make informed decisions about the clubs and dance events you go to. It’s best to opt for venues that offer free or affordable drinking water and an area to take a break from the dancing.
  • Pay attention to surroundings once inside a club or dance event.


MDMA is a controlled substance in Canada. It is illegal to make, sell, buy or use MDMA. Offenders may receive a fine, a prison term and a criminal record that could affect their future employment, travel plans and educational opportunities.


What to do if you or someone you know wants to explore change

To better understand how substances play a role in your life, visit the You and Substance Use Workbook on the Here to Help website: This website also features detailed information on substance use and mental health.

You can also find information about a wide variety of substance use issues on the Centre for Addictions Research of BC website:

The Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, formerly CARBC, is a member of the BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions Information. The institute is dedicated to the study of substance use in support of community-wide efforts aimed at providing all people with access to healthier lives, whether using substances or not. For more, visit

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Effects of Molly: Signs a Person is Using MDMA

Ecstasy: preventing and reducing harms

Molly — also known as ecstasy, MDMA, X and XTC — is a synthetic drug that’s popular at clubs and music festivals.

Young people usually take the party drug for its euphoric and mild hallucinogenic effects. Getting high on molly, a drug that has been around since the 1980s, is often referred to as “rolling.”

A person who’s rolling has high energy levels and feels more sociable and extroverted than usual. Molly also makes people extra affectionate. People who are high on ecstasy often feel a need to be touched or to touch others. Increased sensitivity tolight and sound are also typical.

Molly can also cause a number of undesirable physical effects, including jaw clenching, nausea, sweating and panic attacks. In rare cases, people using molly overheat, experience seizures and lose consciousness.

How Molly Affects the Brain

While MDMA is derived from amphetamines, which are stimulants, the drug also has chemical similarities to mescaline, a hallucinogen that comes from the peyote cactus.

As a result, molly has both stimulant and psychedelic effects.

MDMA’s effects stem from the way it affects brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, which send messages between brain cells.

While MDMA boosts levels of three chemicals in the brain — dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine — it’s the excess serotonin that is believed to be responsible for MDMA’s mood-lifting effects. Serotonin is intricately involved in mood regulation, sleep,pain and appetite.

The effects of molly occur within 30 to 45 minutes of taking the drug and gradually wear off in about three to six hours. But because of the drug’s long half-life, molly stays in your system even longer and can be detected in urine for up to four days.

Chronic or heavy use of MDMA may cause long-lasting effects, including psychiatric problems.

Short-Term Effects of Molly

It may be difficult to detect if a person is using ecstasy, but you may notice behavioral and physical changes.

  • Acting friendlier or more extroverted than usual
  • Talkativeness
  • Affectionate behavior, such as frequent touching and hugging
  • Jaw clenching, teeth grinding and lockjaw
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Tremors
  • Sweating

Although many people perceive molly as a relatively safe drug, it’s not. MDMA can cause a number of uncomfortable and dangerous side effects.

  • Elevated body temperature (hyperthermia)
  • Dehydration
  • Electrolyte (sodium) imbalance
  • Muscle cramps or joint stiffness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Illogical or disorganized thoughts
  • Restless legs
  • Nausea
  • Hot flashes or chills
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache

Ecstasy can also cause an array of troubling psychiatric symptoms, including hyperactivity, mild hallucinations, delirium, psychosis and feelings of disconnectedness from one’s own body (depersonalization).

Using MDMA can even kill a person. An analysis of 80 ecstasy-related deaths in a 2001 study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal revealed a variety ofcauses for those fatalities, including heatstroke, bleeding disorders, liver failure, abnormal heart rhythms, strokes, accidents and suicide.

Signs and Symptoms of MDMA Overdose

Un many other illegal drugs, MDMA can cause a fatal overdose when people take what is considered a normal recreational dose. As a result, there’s really no safe dose of molly.

  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Fainting
  • Panic attacks
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Rigid muscles

Molly is also unpredictable because it can contain dangerous drugs and chemicals other than MDMA.

According to a 2017 study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, MDMA is frequently contaminated with other chemicals that make it more deadly.

The authors of the study examined data collected by DanceSafe, an organization that tests drugs for contaminants at music festivals across the country. Of the 529 samples of suspected molly collected between 2010 and 2015, only 60 percent containedMDMA.

In a 2015 report by ABC News, a Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman said that only about 13 percent of molly being marketed on the streets isactually MDMA. Many of the substances being peddled as molly are actually counterfeit drugs with a different chemical makeup that are smuggled in from China.

Long-Term Effects of Molly

While the high from ecstasy wears off within a few hours, some side effects may occur days or even weeks later.

That’s because the surge of serotonin that accompanies a dose of ecstasy results in a depletion of that important neurotransmitter. As a result, people who regularly use MDMA sometimes experience depression, anxiety, confusion, poor memory and otherproblems.

  • Irregular heartbeat and heart damage
  • Muscle pain and stiffness in the lower back and legs
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Decreased libido (sex drive)
  • Impulsivity
  • Impaired attention and memory
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Decreased appetite
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Trouble thinking

Some research suggests that heavy use of MDMA can cause permanent neurological damage.

A 2006 report in the journal Psychosomatics described the case of a British man who took an estimated 40,000 ecstasy tablets over the course of nine years and dabbled in other drugs, including marijuana and cocaine.

Seven years after quitting ecstasy, the man was experiencing severe short-term memory problems. The London doctors who cared for him could find no other cause, such as an underlying psychiatric condition, to account for his symptoms.

Ecstasy Withdrawal Symptoms

While it’s unclear if MDMA is addictive, some signs point in that direction.

Animal studies have shown that animals will self-administer the drug when given the opportunity, though not to the degree they would indulge in cocaine, for example.

In addition, some people have reported experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, depression, appetite loss and difficulty concentrating when they stop using ecstasy. Withdrawal is one of the hallmarks of drug dependence.

Medical Disclaimer: aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes.

We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.


Pill testing results & harm-reduction advice | KnowDrugs

Ecstasy: preventing and reducing harms

Avoid bad ecstasy pills.
Inform yourself about pill testing results and drug interactions and learn how to practice safer use.

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Find support nearby with a counselling organisation. Their mission is not to make you quit taking drugs, but empowering you to take informed decisions and helping you to reduce the risks of taking drugs.

Everybody should have the right to know what’s inside their drugs. Download the app now and start making more informed decisions! 

Drug checking or pill testing is a way to reduce the harm from drug consumption by allowing users to find out the content and purity of substances that they intend to consume. 

This empowers users to make safer choices: to avoid more dangerous substances, to use smaller quantities, and to avoid dangerous combinations.

People intending to take drugs provide a small sample to the testing service (often less than a single dose). Test results are usualy provided after a short waiting period.

Drug checking services use this time to discuss health risks and safe behaviour with the service users. The services also provide public health information about drug use, new psychoactive substance (NPS) and trends at a national level.

The KnowDrugs app lists drug checking results from various harm-reduction organisations who conduct drug checking – e.g. Saferparty Zurich, CheckIt! Vienna or The Loop.

Some of the organisations publish the test results later on their websites which the KnowDrugs app aggregates in a reverse-chronological feed, so that the most recent test results always show up first.

KnowDrugs is a self-started project by Philipp Kreicarek, a former Social Worker.

The goal of this project is to reduce the harms associated with the consumption of drugs by enabling people that decide to take drugs – despite the risks – to make informed decisions and to practice safer use.

This project is a 100% non-profit project and relies on donations in order to maintain and develop the app.

No. There is no such thing as risk-free consumption of drugs.

Similar looking ecstasy pills can contain different ingredients and or strengths. Using drug checking services Saferparty (Zurich), Checkit! (Vienna) or The Loop (UK) is highly recommended if you want to be sure, what your drug actually contains.

However, we believe that drug checking results should be accessible and available to those who do decide to take drugs. Drug checking results raise awareness about the fact that a high amount of ecstasy pills nowadays contain up to 4x the regular dose.

KnowDrugs is independent of governments. I believe that objective and unbiased information on drugs is a fundamental right. Please support the project with a donation, so that KnowDrugs can continue to make objective information about drugs accessible.