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MDMA (Ecstasy)

MDMA (Ecstasy) Abuse

Describes the science behind MDMA (ecstasy) abuse, including what it does to the brain, whether it is addictive, and the latest research regarding prevention and treatment of MDMA.

Published: March 2006

High School and Youth Trends

Every year, the Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey measures drug, alcohol, and tobacco use and related attitudes among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders. Following are facts and statistics about youth substance use from the 2013 MTF report

MDMA (Ecstasy or Molly)

MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine), popularly known as ecstasy or, more recently, as Molly, is a synthetic, psychoactive drug that has similarities to both the stimulant amphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline. It produces feelings of increased energy, euphoria, emotional warmth and empathy toward others, and distortions in sensory and time perception.

MDMA was initially popular among White adolescents and young adults in the nightclub scene or at “raves” (long dance parties), but the drug now affects a broader range of users and ethnicities.

MDMA can be fatal in warm environments

A moderate dose of MDMA, commonly known as Ecstasy or Molly, that is typically nonfatal in cool, quiet environments can be lethal in rats exposed to conditions that mimic the hot, crowded, social settings where the drug is often used by people, a study


Dr. Marilyn Huestis Q & A: Matching Drug Effects to Drug Concentrations

Dr. Marilyn Huestis of NIDA’s Intramural Research Program talks about conducting research on drug effects with human subjects, developing tests to help law enforcement identify drugged drivers, and an assay to help identify children whose prenatal exposure to anti-HIV drugs may put them at risk for adverse developmental outcomes.

Stimulants in “Bath Salts” Produce Effects Similar to MDMA

Mephedrone and methylone, two stimulants commonly found in designer drugs such as “bath salts,” act on the brain much like MDMA (Ecstasy).

Regular marijuana use by teens continues to be a concern

Continued high use of marijuana by the nation's eighth, 10th and 12th graders combined with a drop in perceptions of its potential harms was revealed in this year's Monitoring the Future survey, an annual survey of eighth, 10th, and 12th–graders conducted by researchers at the University of Michi


Girls More Likely Than Boys to Use Ecstasy

Lifetime ecstasy use is more prevalent among adolescent girls than among adolescent boys, according to an analysis of 2002–2008 data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

The Neurobiology of Ecstasy (MDMA)

The fourth in a 5-part series, explores the biology behind ecstasy use in the brain and discusses both short- and long-term effects of its use.

Revised: January 2007

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