Myths of Ecstasy Abuse: What Is & Isn’t True

Medically Reviewed

Ecstasy use is inadvisable. It can lead to unsafe and regrettable decisions, and it can be notably dangerous if taken with other drugs (as it often is).

Myth No. 1: Ecstasy Is Safe

There are many reasons why this isn’t true. Although it’d be disingenuous to say ecstasy or Molly is guaranteed to hurt you the first time you use it, it certainly could. Drugs are rarely just taken once. Over time, ecstasy abuse exposes you to more and more risks.

Risks associated with ecstasy abuse include:

  • Heightened risks when combined with other substances. When taken in conjunction with alcohol, ecstasy can be especially dangerous. As the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) notes, alcohol can potentially cause MDMA (the drug that makes up ecstasy) to have neurotoxic effects. Meanwhile, ecstasy can increase alcohol’s effects, possibly leading to a dangerous overdose.
  • Unsafe sex. Ecstasy use can lead you to make unwise decisions, especially related to sex. You are more likely to have unprotected sex while high on ecstasy, increasing the chances of contracting an STD.
  • Date rape. Ecstasy is sometimes used as a date rape drug. A victim can be given the drug (either without their knowledge or with the person giving it while hiding their intentions) and then raped while too high on ecstasy to properly communicate, fight back, or even recall the event.
  • Overdose. Although rare, it is possible to overdose on ecstasy. It can cause hyperthermia, which can damage the liver, kidneys, and cardiovascular system. This can be extremely serious and even result in death.
  • Damage from cutting agents. A genuinely big risk with ecstasy is that it can be cut with dangerous chemicals as a cost-saving measure by drug dealers. As an illicit drug, its production is not regulated by any respected legal body. Depending on the source of the ecstasy, you could be taking in numerous other dangerous chemicals unknowingly.

In addition, long-term ecstasy abuse can lead to sleep issues, anxiety, thinking problems, disinterest in sex, and more.

Myth No. 2: Ecstasy Isn’t Addictive

It isn’t really clear whether ecstasy is addictive. There is some evidence it is can cause at least mild physical dependence, but beyond that, its addictive potential has been poorly researched.

Adding to the issue is that many users of ecstasy abuse a wide array of drugs, which can muddy the data. These users may abuse drugs for a variety of reasons — to push away anxiety or pain. After all, they are addicted because they simply wish to get high, or for many more reasons.

Myth No. 3: Molly Is A Safer Version Of Ecstasy

This myth centers around the fact that the MDMA in ecstasy is often cut with other cheap chemicals and the misconception that Molly, which comes in capsules of powder or liquid, isn’t. As the National Institute on Drug Abuse notes, Molly capsules are often just filled with some other drug.

Molly capsules can be filled with notoriously dangerous bath salts. They can lead to psychotic breaks from reality, where people might endanger themselves or others. In addition, the drug can potentially trigger suicidal thoughts, stroke, heart problems, and more.

The same risks are present for drugs sold as ecstasy. Exact statistics on the purity of ecstasy and Molly are unavailable. Molly’s supposed purity should mostly be seen as a marketing gimmick.

Myth No. 4: Ecstasy Use Is Fine If I Only Do It At Parties

Drug abuse is never advisable, but given its nature, ecstasy is a bad drug to take at parties.

While it may temporarily be fun, it can lead to very poor decisions. Parties tend to have many strangers present, and all guests may also be on drugs, also leading them to make poor decisions.

Ecstasy abusers may be much more open to casual sex. Reduced inhibitions may lead to decisions people might not have made while not high.

In addition to a heightened risk of unprotected sex, which could result in unwanted pregnancy and exposure to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), you could potentially choose to have sex with someone and later regret the act.

These encounters may get caught on camera in some fashion. While many states and areas have laws against such recording, it can be difficult to prevent content like that from propagating online even if it is criminal.

Things like unwanted recordings and date rape are not the victim’s fault, but using ecstasy at large gatherings (or even in small ones, with only known friends) can increase the risk that you will be victimized. There is a greater risk someone with ill intentions will be present, and you won’t be in a position to defend yourself.

If you believe you may have been the victim of a sex crime of any kind, call 911 to report the crime as soon as possible and then call RAINN at 1-800-656-4673. RAINN is an organization that specializes in helping victims of sex crimes and abuse. Call them as soon as you’re ready. Sexual assault can be very traumatizing, and it can help you deal with the aftermath.

Myth No. 5: Ecstasy Has No Potential Medical Uses

While the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has tightly controlled ecstasy, and not without reason, there is research suggesting it may help patients who deal with extreme anxiety.

Purple ecstasy pills in a palmAmong people who might benefit are those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety due to terminal illness, or extreme social anxiety in autistic adults.

It should be noted that these treatments are still being researched and are performed in tightly controlled environments by medical professionals.

If you have any of these conditions, it would be very unwise to attempt drug use without the oversight of a doctor. You may even increase your anxiety in some circumstances.

Myth No. 6: Teens Do Not Often Use Ecstasy

According to NIDA, more than 4 percent of U.S. teens will have used ecstasy at least once by 12th grade, with 2 percent having used it in the past year. The drug is relatively popular among teens and young adults, which is troubling as it is often considered a gateway drug.

To put this use into perspective, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) estimates there are about 42 million people in the United States between the ages of 10 and 19. Those in eighth grade tend to be between the ages of 13 and 14. NIDA estimates 1.6 percent of eighth-graders have used ecstasy at least once in their lifetime.

Exact statistics are difficult to determine, but the rate of people who use ecstasy along with other drugs (polydrug use) seems to be relatively high.

A 2017 study notes that marijuana is a commonly used drug with ecstasy, as is alcohol. Both these drugs also have a fairly high use rate among teens. More studies should be done on the correlation of their abuse with ecstasy.

Final Notes On Ecstasy

Ecstasy use should not be engaged in lightly. Whether one wants to argue it should or should not be legal for informed adults, its use can have serious consequences. It is important to be informed about any drugs you intend to use or that are abused in your community.

Ecstasy is not good for your health. It may be temporarily enjoyable, but it can lead to serious physical and emotional damage. Many drug dealers are unscrupulous and may cut the drug with other substances, exposing users to dangerous and unknown compounds.

If NIDA’s estimate of ecstasy’s rate of abuse is correct, along with HHS’ estimate of the adolescent population, at least several hundred thousand teens have abused ecstasy at least once. Considering its risks, having its rate of abuse by high school seniors stand at around 4 percent is cause for concern.

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