Treating an Ecstasy Overdose
People who take MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine), also known as Ecstasy or Molly, especially in high doses, may be at risk of experiencing adverse health effects, particularly if it’s combined with other drugs.1
This article will help you understand more about what Ecstasy is, its effects, and the potential for ecstasy overdose.
What is Ecstasy?
Ecstasy is a synthetic drug with psychoactive properties that can cause mood changes and alter perceptions of how a person senses their surroundings.1 It is sometimes seen as having similar properties to stimulants and hallucinogens since this drug increases energy, pleasurable sensations, and favorable emotions.1
Drugs like Ecstasy, commonly referred to as Molly, gained popularity in nightclubs and dance party scenes; however, their use has expanded into other communities.1 The term “Molly” derives from the word “molecular” because it’s the powder form of MDMA.1
Ecstasy (Molly) typically comes in tablet form, which can be swallowed or crushed to be snorted.1 Often, Ecstasy contains other substances like cocaine, methamphetamine, or synthetic cathinones (bath salts), which may lead to potentially dangerous effects or even be life threatening.1, 2
Can You Overdose on MDMA?
High doses of Ecstasy or MDMA can lead to severe and even potentially life-threatening effects.2 It’s important that a person receive immediate medical attention if they exhibit signs of an overdose.
People who have experienced an Ecstasy overdose may benefit from further drug treatment after getting medically stabilized to help prevent continued misuse.
Fatal overdoses from ecstasy are rare; however, there still may be adverse health effects associated with ecstasy overdose.2
Signs of an Ecstasy Overdose
If you observe the signs of an ecstasy overdose, or any other substance overdose in yourself or someone else, call 911 immediately. The signs of an overdose can vary from person to person, however, a few common signs of an Ecstasy or MDMA overdose may include:
- High blood pressure (hypertension).
- Panic attacks.
- Loss of consciousness.
Risk Factors for Ecstasy Overdose
The following risk factors may increase your chance of experiencing an Ecstasy overdose:
- Ecstasy that contains other substances. Since Ecstasy is an unregulated substance, it’s difficult to know exactly what other substances may be contained in it. A dose may contain varying levels of MDMA as well as other substances.1
- Mixing with other drugs. People commonly take Ecstasy with other drugs or alcohol, which may increase the risk of experiencing adverse effects or overdose.1, 2
- Taking too much Ecstasy. A person can intentionally or unintentionally take too much of a drug, especially if they don’t know what’s in the tablet of MDMA.4 Sometimes people take a series of Ecstasy pills in a short time frame known as “piggy-backing,” which may lead to potentially dangerous effects.7
Treating an Ecstasy Overdose
If you or a loved one feel you are experiencing an Ecstasy overdose, call 911 immediately. Drug overdoses require immediate medical attention to ensure a person receives the medical care they need.
There are not currently any approved medications to treat an overdose of Ecstasy.2
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Treatment for MDMA Use Disorder
After a person is treated for a drug or Ecstasy overdose, they may benefit from other types of treatment. There are not currently any approved medications or specific forms of treatment to address MDMA misuse. However, behavioral therapy and/or mutual support groups may be useful in helping a person remain abstinent and recover from MDMA misuse.1, 5 Some common interventions may include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Helps people better understand their patterns of substance misuse and how to cope with and/or avoid situations that may trigger them to use again.5
- Contingency management: This type of intervention gives people tangible rewards for engaging in positive behaviors, including abstinence.6
- Mutual support groups: These may include 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, or other types of support groups.