Ecstasy MDMA Addiction

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The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that 3.6% of 12th graders have used ecstasy. Young people are more susceptible to developing an addiction to ecstasy, but ecstasy and other forms of MDMA affect multiple age groups. In 2014 a national survey found that over 17 million Americans over the age of twelve have previously taken some form of MDMA. 

People who purchase illicit MDMA often do not realize drug dealers tend to mix it with other substances to increase their product sales. The majority of MDMA seized in the course of police cases contain one or more of the following:

  • Cocaine
  • Ketamine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Cough medicine
  • Synthetic cathinone or “bath salts”

Common Forms of MDMA

The psychoactive drug 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is often referred to colloquially as ecstasy or Molly. Other names for MDMA include:

  • XTC
  • “E”
  • “X”
  • Beans
  • Adams

Ecstasy comes in the form of a crystalline powder, and people consume it in the following forms:

  • Capsule
  • Tablet
  • Dissolved in liquid
  • Powder


Long- and Short-Term Health Effects

Even a single instance of ecstasy use could potentially result in serious illness, injury, or death. Short-term health changes include:

  • Inability to regulate internal temperature
  • Increased energy levels
  • Hyperthermia
  • Liver, kidney, or heart failure
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Involuntary twitching around the eyes
  • Muscle tension
  • Involuntary teeth clenching
  • Flu-like symptoms like nausea, headache, chills, excessive sweating, and feeling weak
  • Dehydration
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Seizures
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Death

The physical health effects increase with continued use. Long-term changes include:

  • Heart issues and an increased risk of stroke and heart attack
  • Blurred vision
  • Liver or kidney failure
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Extreme anxiety and panic
  • Depression
  • Unusual shifts in mood and thought patterns
  • Mental confusion and memory issues
  • Learning problems
  • Brain damage
  • Death

Mental Effects of MDMA

As both a stimulant and mild hallucinogenic, the signs of MDMA abuse may vary between individuals. However, the following are known mental effects of taking the drug: 

  • Sensory hallucinations
  • Distorted sense of time
  • Unusual changes to mood including aggression, irritability, anxiety, fear, or depression
  • False sense of confidence causing risk-taking behaviors
  • A decrease in critical thinking, focus, and memory

Most effects begin within half an hour and can last up to six hours. The extent of MDMA abuse dictates the degree of damage to your brain and other systems and whether the damage is reversible. Bingeing is a feature of MDMA use and significantly increases the health risks. 


Signs Indicating Ecstasy Use

Not everyone who takes ecstasy will become addicted or develop a substance use disorder. However, both short- and long-term effects of taking the drug impact mood and thought patterns leading to changes in behavior. If you are worried a loved one may be abusing MDMA, check for the following typical signs:

  • Secretive behaviors, especially regarding personal spaces like bedrooms
  • Unusual and extreme mood changes like anger, irritation, or euphoria
  • Dilated pupils and other physical manifestations of drug abuse
  • Giddiness, happiness, and unusual self-confidence followed soon after by anxiety, fear, and depression
  • Strange, erratic, or risk-taking behaviors
  • Reacting to hallucinations 
  • Often complaining of flu-like symptoms
  • Borrowing or stealing money with no explanation
  • Changes in sleep routine
  • Changes in appetite
  • Being secretive about places visited regularly
  • A decline in personal hygiene
  • Preoccupation with getting or using MDMA at the expense of personal and professional responsibilities

Not everyone will show outward signs of addiction. Others may display one or all of the ones listed above. Local and national resources are available to treat MDMA abuse. If you recognize some of the signs of addiction in yourself or a loved one, get help today by speaking with your doctor or reaching out to a local rehabilitation facility. 


Risk Factors Associated With Ecstasy Addiction

Ecstasy is known as a “party drug” and remains popular with younger individuals. Therefore, specific groups of people have a higher chance of developing SUD involving MDMA. Below are associated risk factors:

  • Personal or family history of substance use or mental health disorders
  • Undiagnosed mental health disorder
  • Depression
  • Genetics may play a role
  • Smoking, alcohol, or marijuana use 

MDMA was initially part of the “rave” and party scene used primarily by young adults under 20. However, the age range has been rising since 1999, and currently, MDMA abuse is most prominent among people ages 18 to 25. In addition, some research suggests gay and bisexual individuals are more likely to abuse MDMA. 


Treatment and Therapy Options

MDMA can cause permanent brain damage when taken in large amounts or over a long period. Even a single instance of ingesting any form of MDMA can cause irreparable damage to organs like the heart, liver, kidneys, and brain. The dangerous nature of the drug and severe side effects makes tailored treatment essential. Community and private facilities provide medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and behavioral therapies to treat MDMA addiction. 

Medication can help decrease physical and psychological symptoms caused by MDMA. Accompanied psychotherapy is necessary for successful long-term sobriety. Specific therapies known to provide relief and useful recovery tools for individuals with SUD include:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Motivational Interviewing (MI)
  • Contingency Management (CM)
  • Matrix Model
  • Mindfulness Therapy
  • Additional Alternative Therapies

We are here for you

Drugs like ecstasy are common on college campuses and at party locations, meaning most people with SUDs involving MDMA are younger. However, resources exist to help if you or someone you love shows symptoms of ecstasy abuse. Reach out for help today. The dedicated team at White House Recovery and Detox has the experience necessary to guide you through recovery. Our personalized rehabilitation services are available to provide support and evidence-based treatments.