MDMA or ecstasy

NB! Drugs effects vary according to the psychological state and the health of the person concerned, the context in which the drug is taken as well as the quality of the drug and the quantity consumed.


MDMA (methylene-dioxymethylamphetamine) is a chemical substance derived from amphetamines manufactured in underground laboratories. MDMA is the active principle of ecstasy and is usally taken in pill form but it exist also in powder and crystal form.

MDMA is a psychoactive substance which is:

  • illegal
  • synthetic
  • stimulant.

Desired effects

  • Perception distortions (time and space), hallucinations and stimulation of sensations
  • Confusion of the senses, such as synaesthesia (“listening to colours”)
  • Euphoria, disinhibition, increased sociability
  • Entactogenic effect (promoting communication with others and with one’s “inner self”)
  • Entheogenic effect (brings about trances and the experience of mystical states)

Physical symptoms

  • Increase in heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature
  • Dry mouth
  • Contraction of muscles (jaw)
  • Dilation of the pupils

Immediate risks

  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Hyperthermia (increased body temperature)
  • Cardiac problems and circulatory disorders
  • Panic attacks and psychosis (“bad trip”)
  • Risks of poisoning due to presence of new  molecules (e.g. 4MTA, PMMA, PMA) or other substances (amphetamines, ketamine, cafeine, MDEA, MDA)
  • Risk of overdose: loss of consciousness, cardiac arrest, coma, death
  • Irrational acts (suicide, accidental death)

Long-term risks

The medium to long-term effects of MDMA are still unknown. However, repeated use of MDMA is associated with several risks:

  • interference with ability to learn and remember
  • depression, anxiety, distress, insomnia, paranoia, violence
  • predisposition to Parkinson’s disease
  • increased risks for people suffering from heart rhythm disorders, asthma, epilepsy, diabetes, kidney or liver disorders, physical or psychological problems.

Sciensano collects data and analyses the consumption of drugs, the drug market, the consequences for health, requests for treatment and the policies implemented with regard to drugs in Belgium.

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