Can You Overdose on MDMA?
High doses of Ecstasy or MDMA can lead to severe and even life-threatening effects. Learning the signs and risk factors can help prevent serious consequences and complications.
People who are in recovery from an overdose may benefit from treatment at an Ecstasy rehab center, since they may be dealing with a substance abuse disorder.
Learn more about Ecstasy overdose, including:
- What constitutes an overdose.
- Signs and symptoms of overdose.
- Treatment for overdose.
- Recovery options after an overdose.
Overdosing on Ecstasy
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MDMA, or Ecstasy, is a synthetic drug with both stimulant and hallucinogenic properties. It is also known as Molly, X, XTC, E, the “hug drug,” and “go.” Ecstasy is a popular party drug due to its ability to produce euphoria, increased energy, increased libido, and enhanced empathy and closeness with others.
MDMA can be dangerous when taken in high doses (2 to 4 times the standard dose of 80 to 120 milligrams). It is hard to know the exact toxic dose, though some sources cite doses greater than 200 mg. 1
The severity of an overdose can vary depending on how much drug is used, as well as user tolerance, physiology, and whether they’ve consumed other drugs. Potentially fatal effects can include severe dehydration, kidney failure, seizures, and heart attacks. 1, 2
Ecstasy overdoses continue to be a problem, particularly among people younger than 21. The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) reported that emergency department visits involving Ecstasy for this age group went from 4,660 visits in 2005 to 10,176 visits in 2011. 5 Total emergency department visits for MDMA were 22,498 in 2011. 4
Risk Factors for Overdose
- Uncertain source. Because Ecstasy is an illegal substance, it is completely unregulated, so it is impossible to know exactly what you are consuming and in what quantity. A dose may contain varying levels of MDMA as well as adulterant substances like ketamine, methamphetamine, and ephedrine.
- Mixing with other drugs. People commonly take Ecstasy with other drugs, which increases the risk of overdose and dangerous side effects.
- Regular use. Because many people believe the side effects of the drug make partying more enjoyable, they may want to use the drug each time they go out. This behavior can lead to tolerance and addiction, and increase the risk of Ecstasy and MDMA overdose.
Signs and Symptoms
Signs of an Ecstasy overdose include: 1,2,3
- Dry mouth.
- High body temperature.
- Muscle cramping.
- Irrational behavior.
If you observe these signs in yourself or someone else, seek medical help immediately.
Ecstasy Overdose Treatment
Treatment for an Ecstasy overdose usually includes: 3
- Placing the person in a quiet environment.
- Administering benzodiazepines for anxiety, if necessary.
- Stomach pumping and/or administration of activated charcoal if the person has ingested MDMA within the last hour.
- Fluid restriction if the person has hyponatremia (a condition in which the sodium levels in the blood are low from drinking too much water in response to dehydration and overheating).
Can You Die From an Ecstasy Overdose?
Overdosing on Ecstasy can be fatal. 1, 3
- MDMA can cause heart attacks and strokes in people who have underlying heart conditions.
- A high increase in body temperature from Ecstasy use can lead to muscle breakdown and associated kidney failure.
- A person can drink too much water to prevent dehydration and develop hyponatremia, which can lead to headache, seizures, vomiting, brain swelling, and death.
Anyone who displays the signs of an Ecstasy overdose should get medical help immediately to prevent death and other serious consequences of an Ecstasy overdose.
Recovery From an Overdose
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Surviving an Ecstasy or MDMA overdose is likely if the person receives treatment soon after developing symptoms.
Someone who is recovering from an Ecstasy overdose should consider seeking help from an addiction treatment program. Some people who abuse Ecstasy and other drugs have substance abuse issues and even mental health disorders that would benefit from treatment.
Ecstasy rehab centers that specialize in helping individuals recover from drug overdose and addiction are available throughout the country, and the knowledgeable professionals working in those centers are passionate about helping people to attain and maintain sobriety.
Recovery options include:
- Outpatient rehab clinics, are a good option for people who are unable to take time away from work or family obligations for an extended period of time. Many of these programs include group and individual counseling for drug abuse and mental health conditions.
- Inpatient rehab centers. Because people live temporarily in an inpatient treatment center, the environment minimizes relapse triggers. These programs offer detox care, medical supervision, individual and group therapy, education about addiction, relapse prevention training, and aftercare planning. Most programs last 28, 60, 90 days, or longer if necessary.
- 12-step programs. Many people find the help of peer support networks such as Narcotics Anonymous to be incredibly useful tools in the recovery process. Participants work with a sponsor on a series of steps that involves surrendering to a higher power. Non-12-step programs, such as SMART Recovery, are a non-spiritual support group alternative.
The amount of time spent in treatment depends largely on the person’s needs. Additional medical and psychological treatment may be required in cases of severe overdose and addiction, leading to a longer inpatient stay or extended treatment.
Once the individual successfully undergoes treatment at a residential Ecstasy recovery program, there is still work to do. It is important to keep in regular consultation with your primary care physician to manage any health effects from overdose.
Find Ecstasy and MDMA Rehab Centers
If you are recovering after an Ecstasy or MDMA overdose, contact us at 1-888-319-2606 Who Answers? for more information on recovery and treatment options. Our representatives can help you take the first step into recovery.
. Kuhn, C., Swartzwelder, S. and Wilson, W. (2014). Buzzed: The Straight Facts About the Most Used and Abused Drugs from Alcohol to Ecstasy. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
. Abadinsky, H. (2014). Drug Use and Abuse: A Comprehensive Introduction (Eighth Edition). Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
. Herron, A. and Brennan, T. (2015). The ASAM Essentials of Addiction Medicine, Second Edition. Wolters Kluwer.
. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Drug Abuse Warning Network. (2013). Drug Abuse Warning Network, 2011: National Estimates of Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits.
. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Ecstasy-Related Emergency Department Visits by Young People Increased Between 2005 and 2011; Alcohol Involvement Remains a Concern. DAWN Report, December 3, 2013.