Morbidity associated with MDMA (ecstasy) abuse: A survey of emergency department admissions

Pinchas Halpern*, Jenny Moskovich, Beni Avrahami, Yedidia Bentur, Dror Soffer, Kobi Peleg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Methods: We conducted a prospective, representative-sample nationwide study on morbidity related to 3,4, methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA; 'ecstasy') as determined from admissions to 5 geographically representative emergency departments (EDs) and from data from the poison information center (PIC). MDMArelated ED admissions were analyzed over a 7-month period and the records of all PIC calls were reviewed. Results: There were 52 (age 15-44 years, 32 males) ecstasy-related ED admissions during the study period. Most (68%) admissions presented to the ED at night, 52% on weekends and 44% consumed the drug at clubs and parties. Forty-six percent of the patients took between 1/2 to 3 tablets and 29 patients (56%) had taken ecstasy before. Twenty-two subjects (42%) reported poly-drug use. Fifteen subjects (29%) required hospitalization, six of them (11%) to the intensive care unit. The most common manifestations were restlessness, agitation, disorientation, shaking, high blood pressure, headache and loss of consciousness. More serious complications were hyperthermia, hyponatremia, rhabdomyolysis, brain edema and coma. Conclusion: The image of ecstasy as a safe party drug is spurious. The results of this study confirm that the drug bears real danger of physical harm and of behavioral, psychological and psychiatric disturbances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-266
Number of pages8
JournalHuman and Experimental Toxicology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Israel
  • ecstasy
  • emergency admissions
  • morbidity
  • nationwide survey


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