A woman under the influence of ecstacy

Ecstasy, also known as MDMA or molly, is one of the most popular synthetic “designer drugs” in the world. Ecstasy’s powerful stimulant and psychedelic effects provide users with a powerful euphoric high that makes the drug extremely addictive.

Ecstasy achieves these effects, however, by causing extreme changes in the brain.

Here we take a look at the short and long-term effects of ecstasy use on the brain. (1)

What is Ecstasy?

Ecstasy is a stimulant drug with the chemical name 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine, or MDMA for short. While ecstasy was first synthesized in the early 20th century, it was not until the 1980’s that it became a popular street drug.

Ecstasy typically comes in the form of tablets, often with an unknown amount of the drug and possibly mixed with other dangerous drugs. A more pure form of ecstasy that is typically sold as a powder in capsules is often times referred to as “molly”. (2)

Short-term effects of Ecstasy on the brain

MDMA is a psychoactive drug that works by altering the chemistry within the users brain. A group of dancers under the influence of ecstacyMDMA affects the brain by causing the release of three important neurotransmitter molecules in the brain that have a large impact on the user’s mood.

The neurotransmitters, which MDMA causes to be released in the brain, are dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.

Furthermore, once these molecules are released in the brain, MDMA acts as a reuptake inhibitor. This means that MDMA blocks the re-absorption of these molecules by the brain, thus allowing their concentrations to stay higher than normal within the synaptic cleft. (3) (4)

Long-term effects of Ecstasy on the brain

Chronic MDMA abuse has been shown to cause damage to the user’s brain over time. Studies have shown that those who repeatedly use MDMA cause damage to nerve cells in the brain that contain serotonin. (5)

To make matters worse, studies have shown that this damage persisted in test subjects even after a period of seven years of abstinence from the drug. (6)

True Recovery

Low serotonin levels have been shown to cause depression and memory problems in people who suffer from it, thus highlighting how dangerous MDMA use is to the long-term mental health of users. (7)

Final Note

This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.


  1. https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/govi/pharmaz/2006/00000061/00000011/art00015
  2. https://www.history.com/topics/crime/history-of-mdma
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11071707
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1723797
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2789420/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10366642
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26805875