Abuse of MDMA can have significant and devastating effects on the individual using, and their also their loved ones. Financial difficulties and strained relationships along with decreased cognitive functioning, concentration, and performance are just some of the negative effects of ecstasy abuse. In order to reverse the damage that abuse of the drug does to the brain and prevent further health and legal issues, we advise seeking treatment as soon as possible if you or a loved one are showing signs of addiction to MDMA.
Each individual is unique when it comes to treatment, so treatment approaches vary, but they generally consist of residence in an inpatient treatment program or participation in an outpatient program. Residential treatment is beneficial in that it removes patients from the environment in which their addiction began. Following cessation of use, users will often experience a physical and emotional crash that can be very difficult to deal with, and can cultivate feelings of depression and suicidal ideation.
The main focus of our treatment program for MDMA addiction is therapy for substance use disorders. This is provided in the form of individual, group, and family therapy, which when combined, address the specific and general needs of the patient. For the purposes of identifying and addressing any underlying health conditions specific to an individual patient, we provide a health assessment before beginning treatment. This allows our practitioners and medical staff to understand patients’ individual needs and tailor a treatment program accordingly.
One of the major benefits of receiving treatment for MDMA addiction at Brazos Recovery Services, and in fact any addiction, is the involvement of the patient in recovery support groups that follow the 12-step method. Though these are not formal methods of therapy, participation in support groups can have a therapeutic effect, and encourages patients to continue on the road to recovery
3,4 - Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, commonly known as MDMA, or Ecstasy is an illegal psychoactive substance that came to be an increasingly popular party drug from the 1970’s onwards. Due to it’s illegal status, possession of MDMA can result in serious trouble with law enforcement and even incarceration. Though it’s short term effects are not fatal, it is often cut with other dangerous substances for profit, meaning that buying or taking MDMA doesn’t always mean that you’re actually buying or taking MDMA.
There is little evidence-based information to say that MDMA is physically addictive, but it’s psychologically addictive qualities are undeniable. The extremely desirable effects of MDMA can often reduce a person’s appreciation for life while not on the drug, leading them to take more to achieve those effects. Chronic MDMA use often leads the user to prioritise acquiring and taking it over daily responsibilities, like school, work, and relationships and friendships with those who don’t use it.
Tolerance to MDMA builds quickly, meaning that the user must take higher doses to achieve the desired effects. Furthermore, it can be difficult to find pure MDMA. It is often cut with other substances with addictive qualities like benzodiazepines and opiates.
Effects and Health Risks of MDMA
MDMA causes chemical changes in the brain, and produces feelings of intense euphoria, increased energy, social bonding, a distorted perception of sense and time. Dopamine, Norepinephrine and Serotonin are the three brain chemicals that the drug acts upon, and are responsible for its psychoactive effects. Dopamine is released as part of the brain's reward system, and intake of the drug, usually swallowed as a capsule or tablet or snorted in its powdered form, results in increased energy in the user. Heart rate and blood pressure increase significantly due to the release of norepinephrine, while mood, appetite and sleep are all affected by serotonin release.
Though the effects of MDMA are intensely pleasurable, the high only lasts from three to six hours. Many users choose to take a second or third dose to prolong the experience. In the days following use, a user will typically experience a range of adverse effects, including increased irritability, a period of depression, sleep issues, feelings of anxiety and paranoia, difficulty with memory and poor concentration, a decreased appetite, and a decreased libido.
Less desirable effects of MDMA on the body include nausea and possible vomiting, jaw clenching or grinding, blurred vision, chills and shaking, and profuse sweating.
Though small doses do not pose a major risk to one’s general health, higher doses impair the body’s ability to regulate temperature, which can potentially result in heart, liver, and kidney failure. One also experiences dehydration while on the drug, leading them to drink a lot of water. While hydration is important, drinking too much water while on MDMA can cause overhydration, leading to an electrolyte imbalance that is potentially fatal.
MDMA/Ecstasy - Signs of Addiction
Occasional or one-time use of an appropriate dose of MDMA is not proven to be a major health risk, but it becomes a serious problem when use is prolonged and happens frequently. As mentioned earlier, it is not considered to be a physically addictive substance, but it’s addictive qualities are psychological. A person can consider the following signs of addiction to assess themselves or a loved one if they are concerned about a potential MDMA addiction.
Major signs of addiction include: an increase in the frequency of use, especially when there is no occasion, a significantly increased tolerance resulting in the need to increase the dose to get high, continuation of use despite negative effects like strained relationships and poor performance at school or work, prioritising the drug over personal responsibilities, lying or being secretive about frequency of use, and using the drug to self-medicate in response to mental health conditions.
If you or a loved one are struggling with an MDMA addiction, it’s important to seek professional help. At Brazos Recovery Services we employ a team of caring and compassionate experts in the field of mental, emotional, and behavioral health care who are diligent in addressing your individual needs and planning an appropriate treatment program. We understand that many of those struggling with addiction often experience underlying mental health conditions that perpetuate use of substances as a coping mechanism, which is why we provide a full consultation and health assessment before beginning treatment.