People with sex addictions often take the stimulant drug MDMA (ecstasy). 

Sex addiction affects millions of men and women throughout the United States. Though not officially recognized as a mental illness, it nonetheless causes many problems for the people living with it. People who have a sex addiction frequently turn to drugs, such as MDMA or ecstasy, to soothe emotional pain.

Like other addictions, sex addiction can cause people to engage in risky and thrill-seeking behaviors. In this case, people with sex addictions frequently engage in unsafe sexual practices. Being on MDMA at the same time can make these behaviors worse. Knowing the prevalence and risks of concurrent sex addiction and MDMA use is key to raising awareness and increasing rates of treatment.

Article at a Glance:

Some important points to remember about sex addiction, MDMA and ecstasy are:

  • People with sex addictions often use drugs like MDMA (ecstasy)
  • MDMA use increases sexual desire, arousal, and sensation
  • Sex addiction and MDMA use together increase risky sexual behaviors
  • For the best success rate, MDMA abuse and sex addiction must be treated together

The Relationship Between MDMA, Ecstasy and Sex Addiction

Some people with sex addiction take MDMA because of its sexual effects. MDMA can increase a person’s sexual arousal or desire, which can feed back into sex addiction.

MDMA and Sexual Arousal

MDMA is considered a “party drug” that people often use in social situations, such as in clubs or raves. Taking MDMA heightens the perception of several sensations, including touch, energy, and sexual arousal. While on MDMA, people often feel a need to be touched or emotionally or sexually stimulated.

Dangers of Using MDMA or Ecstasy and Having Sex

MDMA tends to lower a person’s inhibitions. While people are on the drug, they become less cautious and often behave in ways they normally would not. They are more likely to take chances, engage in risky activities and put themselves in danger.

While on MDMA, people are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors, such as having sex with multiple partners or not using a condom. These behaviors may result in an unwanted pregnancy or contracting a disease. Drug use in early pregnancy, likewise, raises the risk of birth and developmental defects.

MDMA use in those with sex addiction can spell disaster as already low impulse control is met with an even greater desire to have sex and disregard safety precautions. Increased sexual desire from MDMA can impede addiction treatment and other efforts to control sex addiction.

STDs and STIs

Several behaviors common among people who use ecstasy, such as unprotected sex and having multiple sexual partners, increase the risk for contracting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) as well as other STDs, such as human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer.

Sex Addiction, MDMA and Ecstasy Treatment

MDMA has a high potential for addiction or abuse. People with sex addiction are especially likely to develop a substance use disorder, such as MDMA misuse. For a small but growing group of people, drug use and sex addiction are tightly linked. Taking MDMA leads to unhealthy sexual behaviors, and sexual arousal leads to MDMA use. Because of this, both disorders must be treated at the same time.

Dual-diagnosis centers that treat both substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health conditions offer the best chance of successful recovery. Treatment for MDMA use and sex addiction may include rehabilitation from drug dependency and psychotherapy to manage sexual impulses. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and mindfulness-based therapy can be beneficial for both of these conditions.

If you or your loved one are struggling with MDMA misuse and its effects, help is available. Contact The Recovery Village today to learn how we can help you meet your recovery goals.

Megan Hull
Editor – Megan Hull
Megan Hull is a content specialist who edits, writes and ideates content to help people find recovery. Read more
Dr. Anna Pickering
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Anna Pickering, PhD
Dr. Anna Pickering has a PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology. Anna works as a medical writer. She grew up in Oregon, where she developed a love for science, nature, and writing. Read more

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United States Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Agency. “Drugs of Abuse: A DEA Resource Guide.” 2017. Accessed May 5, 2019.

Zemishlany Z, Aizengerg D, Weizman A. “Subjective effects of MDMA (‘Ecstasy[…]uman sexual function.” European Psychiatry, 2001. Accessed May 5, 2019.

Singer LT, Moore DG, Min MO, Goodwin J, Turner JJD, Fulton S, Parrott AC. “Motor Delays in MDMA (Ecstasy) Exposed I[…]s Persist to 2 Years.” Neurotoxicology and Teratology, March 2017. Accessed May 5, 2019.

Sterk CE, Klein H, Elifson K. “Young Adult Ecstasy Users and Multiple S[…]is HIV Risk Practice.” Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, September 2008. Accessed May 5, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.