What is MDMA?
MDMA is a feel-good social drug that is most commonly used at all-night dance parties. MDMA incites carefree feelings of empathy, social connection, euphoria, and wakefulness.
The effects last for a few hours and can be followed by a few days of depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Repeated use of MDMA creates an unnatural upset in brain chemical production, which often leads the abuser to search out other substances that will make them feel better during the come-down. The risk of obtaining false MDMA increases as the desire for MDMA becomes a perceived necessity. This unhealthy pattern signals the first stages of addiction.
Like many other drugs MDMA was synthesized to enhance modern medicine, particularly to manage bleeding. About 50 years later, psychiatrists became drawn to the illegal drug as a way to lower inhibitions during therapy sessions and to encourage clients to speak openly, which paved the way for more effective treatment.
Today, there is no approval for human consumption in the medical field, although, this could change as clinical trials have shown promising results, when used with psychotherapy, to treat PTSD. Until these clinical trials are done, proper dosing and purity are impossible to determine by the recreational user, creating substantial risk.
While it may be premature to cast MDMA as a villain, using it without medical supervision poses a threat to one’s health and even life. Substance abuse treatment specifically tailored to an individual helps the therapist understand what led to the addiction, heal the addiction, and create an aftercare plan that will help to avoid relapse.
What is Ecstasy?
MDMA is both a stimulant and a psychedelic, and can cause an energizing effect, distort perceptions, and enhance tactile response. Many people believe that Ecstasy and MDMA are interchangeable terms, but researchers have discovered that Ecstasy tablets contain a combination of MDMA, ephedrine, cocaine, caffeine, ketamine, dextromethorphan (DXM), and methamphetamine. MDA and PMA are substances similar to MDMA and sold as Ecstasy.
What is Ecstasy’s origin?
As a synthetic substance, MDMA is created in laboratories, most often in Canada and the Netherlands, then trafficked into the United States. There are very few MDMA labs in the United States.
What are Ecstasy’s common street names?
E, Go, Lover’s Speed, Adam, MDMA, X, Beans, Ecstasy, Hug Drug, Peace, XTC, Clarity, Eve, STP, Disco Biscuit
How is Ecstasy abused?
MDMA is available in powder form, but most commonly swallowed in tablet form. It can also be crushed and snorted, smoked, and injected. MDMA is commonly abused with several other drugs at the same time, and is rarely used alone.
What are Ecstasy’s effects on the mind?
MDMA affects the neurochemical serotonin, which is responsible for sleep, aggression, sensitivity to pain, mood, and sexual activity. Effects of MDMA use usually last four to six hours, and include confusion, euphoria, anxiety, sensitivity to touch, depression, sexual arousal, paranoia, memory and learning problems, drug craving, need for stimulation/touch, and sleep problems.
What are Ecstasy’s effects on the body?
Ecstasy/MDMA can cause increased motor activity, hyperthermia, kidney failure, tremors, chills, blurred vision, increased alertness, dehydration, liver failure, faintness, involuntary teeth clenching, increased heart rate, cardiovascular failure, muscle tension, nausea, muscle cramps, and increased blood pressure.
What are Ecstasy’s overdose effects?
An overdose of Ecstasy/MDMA can cause hyperthermia, which results in liver, kidney, and cardiovascular failure, leading to death.
Which drugs cause similar effects as Ecstasy?
MDMA shares similar characteristics as stimulants, such as amphetamines, and hallucinogens, such as mescaline.
What are the withdrawal effects of Ecstasy?
When the user stops taking Ecstasy/MDMA, he/she could experience withdrawal symptoms such as sleeplessness, depersonalization, anxiety, agitation, paranoid delusion, panic attacks, derealization, depression, and psychosis.
Need more help with MDMA Addiction?
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How is MDMA Used?
MDMA is used in two forms: Ecstasy and Molly. Ecstasy is a pressed pill cut with other substances, which allows manufacturers to extend volume.
Molly can be pure MDMA, is a white powder sometimes in capsules. While Molly was once always pure MDMA, DEA analysts have been finding increasing numbers of substances combined with the powder recently.
MDMA, a schedule I drug, is ingested orally with noticeable effects felt within 45-60 minutes. It takes about 30 minutes for the sensations to reach their peak then continue for about 4 more hours.
Draining your brain’s feel-good chemicals over a few hours is a significant toll on the body. This chemical exhaustion compels the abuser to take other substances for relief, which significantly increases the risk factor of using MDMA.
This intense fluctuation of chemicals confuses the brain into thinking it needs more MDMA to balance out. This often begins a pattern of addiction.
Signs & Symptoms of Using MDMA
Signs of someone using MDMA can be hard to spot unless you know what to look for. Some of the symptoms can be subtle and others don’t cause alarm because of their euphoric nature. Comparing the abusers distinct personality traits, look for these signs and symptoms if you suspect MDMA use:
- Increase in energy level
- Long periods of activity (such as dancing)
- Increased wakefulness (sometimes for long hours)
- Magnified reaction to sights and sounds (music, lights)
- Amplified pleasure from touch
- Dilated pupils
- Clenched jaw
MDMA withdrawals don’t cause physical pain but the psychological symptoms can be difficult. Once the flood of norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin begins to subside, the abuser then enters into a long process of recovering from the drug’s effects.
Insomnia is usually the first to set in, which after a few hours of intense stimulation often causes anxiety. This encourages the abuser to turn to other substances to relieve their anxiety. Depression stemming from anxiety has often caused suicidal thoughts and other negative feelings fabricated by the withdrawal of MDMA. Withdrawal can take up to a week, or sometimes longer.
Dosing MDMA seems so simple; just pop a pill or two. This presumption can be deadly. MDMA pills are laced with other drugs and pressed into a pill. Unless the abuser has a direct communication line with the manufacturer for each individual batch of pills, dosing is impossible to accurately determine, especially when consumed with other drugs or alcohol. The following list includes symptoms of an MDMA overdose:
- Severe nausea
- Panic or anxiety attacks
- Dangerous dehydration
- Heat stroke
- Heart failure
Finding Quality Treatment for MDMA Addictions
The effects of MDMA can be seen as a release for an abuser who suffers from co-occurring disorders such as social anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder. It can be seen as a reprieve from those daily burdens. However, as the brain is flooded with chemicals it already has, MDMA use can actually causes additional complications with these disorders.
Substance abuse treatment is especially beneficial to the individual who has been relying on MDMA for a balance of confidence and fulfillment.
In treatment, a specialized plan is created for each person seeking help. Treatment plans are designed to address underlying disorders that are contributing to the addiction as well as the addiction itself.
The initial focus upon entering treatment will be physical stability. Allowing the toxins of the drug to leave the body under medical supervision is the safest way to begin.
From there, a wide variety of therapies will be utilized to re-establish a sense of self, heal important relationships, and plan for a future without the use of MDMA.
As treatment is coming to an end, therapeutic focus will transition to living a life of recovery outside the treatment facility. A place to live, an aftercare plan to assist in avoiding relapses, and a support system that’s best suited to your goals will be determined before treatment is complete.
MDMA abuse does not have to be the end of your life’s journey. Help is available. Once you are free from addiction, a content and fulfilling life awaits you.
Effective medical detox experts focus on taking the discomfort out of the detox and withdrawal process. We understand that each patient has different needs. Patients can usually choose to either undergo medical detox or social detox. You deserve an effective and realistic addiction treatment plan.
Different outpatient programs, such as intensive outpatient and evening intensive outpatient programs, can help patients receive treatment while living at home. Connecting you to a safe and therapeutic program is our top priority. Learn More
Residential facilities are the perfect place to start your journey to recovery. At high-quality residential treatment centers, expert clinicians and medical providers assess your needs and provide an individualized plans tailored to your needs. Learn More
Drug and Alcohol Interventions for MDMA Abuse
MDMA feels great when someone is under the influence, this entices the person to continuously use this substance as a way to enhance their time or experience. Those who use MDMA will struggle with intense highs on under the influence and intense lows when their serotonin is depleted. These ups and downs with continued abuse have an impact of the family dynamic.
The truth is, MDMA is just as dangerous as other drugs. For the family members that see this continuing pattern of abuse, stress and worry take their toll. Because this substance is commonly associated with parties and clubs, the person who is abusing may not see the addiction forming. What they may notices is how sad or depressed they feel when they are not under the influence of MDMA. This destructive behavior could be a stepping stone to a serious addiction to this substance.
An intervention would be a safe place to express your concern. Intervention helps the abusers to see that their excessive consumption of the drug has altered their priorities. For many abusers, intervention is the only way to stop the freight train from running off the rails.
From the Club to the Doctor’s Office: Is MDMA Becoming a Treatment for PTSD?
Surprisingly enough, some of the same effects sought after in MDMA at parties and raves, have also proven to be significant healing tools in clinical trials for PTSD.
Those who struggle with PTSD understand how vulnerable they feel to stress. Their overactive amygdala askews their “fight, flight or freeze response” causing fear or discomfort to influence reason.
MDMA-assisted psychotherapy reduces the blood flow to the areas in the brain linked to fear-based emotions. Because MDMA floods the brain with oxytocin and serotonin, chemicals associated with happiness, contentment and joy, this promotes re-occurring feelings of trust and empathy combating the overactive amygdala’s response to stress.
While clinical trials on MDMA have started, the lack of money for continued trials has stunted the progress of this research.
Should the government decide against funding the relatively small price tag on these final trial stages, the burden is left on the shoulders of private donors, which will lengthen the approval process.
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Reliable Sources Matter to ABTRS
At ABTRS, we believe it is important to use reputable sources when communicating with you. Therefore, we have built all our information, statistics, treatment modalities, and practices on reliable resources that are supported by data, scientific methodology and/or testing.
A strong foundation for recovery should be built upon knowledge that is impartial, not funded by organizations that could benefit from certain outcomes, and proven or tested to be effective for substance abuse treatment and aftercare. Below are the sources used to construct the content on our website and any and all written material from ABTRS. We will continue to try to provide you with reputable sources that are up-to-date and relevant.
Addressing Chemically Dependent Colleagues Volume 2/Issue 2 July 2011. Retrieved from https://www.ncsbn.org/Addressing_Chemically_Dependent.pdf
Mealer, M., Burnham, E. L., Goode, C. J., Rothbaum, B., & Moss, M. (2009). The prevalence and impact of post-traumatic stress disorder and burnout syndrome in nurses. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2919801/
The Opioid Crisis and the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist: How Can We Help. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.aana.com/docs/default-source/aana-journal-web-documents-1/guest-editorial—the-opioid-crisis-and-the-certified-registered-nurse-anesthetist—how-can-we-help.pdf?sfvrsn=76ad4ab1_4
Toney-Butler TJ, Siela D. Recognizing Alcohol and Drug Impairment in the Workplace in Florida. (2018). Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507774/