MDMA Abused and Addiction

MDMA also known as ecstasy is used illicitly for its euphoric and hallucinogenic effects and reducing inhibitions. Typically this substance is used in social settings. MDMA’s effects are stimulated by visuals, sounds, smells and touch. Some people experience nausea at the outset, but after about forty-five minutes, most people report feelings of relaxation and clarity. It is impossible to know the dose since MDMA is illegal, In fact, many drugs sold as “ecstasy” or “molly” are not MDMA. Besides MDMA, ecstasy pills may contain varying levels of MDA (methylene-dioxyamphetamine), other stimulants such as caffeine, or anesthetics such as Ketamine or dextromethorphan (DXM) – which can significantly amplify potential harms.

Some of the other names for ecstasy are X, XTC, the Love Drug, Disco Biscuits, Scooby Snacks and Vitamin E just to name a few. Ecstasy is not considered physically addictive, but reports that state this claim do vary. The tolerance to ecstasy is quickly built up which helps prevent a physical dependency. However, ecstasy can be psychologically addictive. Almost 60 percent of people who use MDMA report withdrawal symptoms, including fatigue, loss of appetite, depressed feelings, and trouble concentrating.


Signs of ecstasy abuse and addiction

As the age profile of MDMA users is skewed toward young adults and teenagers, much of the literature available about ecstasy abuse is framed in terms of the parent and child relationship. The Partnership for Drug-Free America provides guidance on how to recognize the behavioral and physical signs of MDMA abuse in youth (this information is not age-specific and may also be applied to older adults). As the Partnership notes, ecstasy users may exhibit the following behavioral changes:

Ecstasy/MDMA behavioral changes

  • Going to New Hangout Places
  • Hostile Mood
  • Loss of Interest in Activities or Hobbies
  • Money/Possessions Disappear from Home
  • New Friends
  • Sleep Disturbances
  • Uncooperative Attitude
  • Worsening School Performance

MDMA use/abuse

It may be difficult for the naked eye to determine the difference between MDMA use and abuse. It is helpful for parents, and any concerned persons, to be aware of how a person high on ecstasy may appear. Here’s what you may see when a person is abusing ecstasy:

Signs of MDMA use

  • Intense Focus on Senses
  • Jaw Clenching
  • Rapid Eye Movement
  • Severe Anxiety or Paranoia
  • Sweating, Chills
  • Trance-like State
  • Unusually Affectionate Behavior
  • Vomiting, Nausea

It takes approximately 20-30 minutes after ecstasy consumption for its effects to take hold. The intensity and duration of the effects of ecstasy depend on different factors, such as environmental influences, other drugs used simultaneously (such as LSD), volume of dose, and composition of dose (i.e., whether other agents such as cocaine are mixed in). Dance Safe, an informational site that advocates for safe practices in nightclubs, advises that the normal recreational dosage of ecstasy is 100-125 mg. In general, psychoactive effects of Ecstasy last between one and three hours. However, there are reports of residual effects, such as depression, anxiety, and confusion lasting for weeks after heavy use.

How to get a loved one into rehab

When a loved one is abusing a substance like MDMA, it’s a highly emotional, difficult situation. Often the individual using the substance doesn’t see the negative results of their behavior or actions until it is too late.

Traditional rehab protocols for drug rehabilitation have the ability to break MDMA abuse. Often the first step comes from a loved one or family member. Sometimes all it takes is a conversation, while interventions are often also employed.

Learn more about helping a loved one get into rehab at our friends and family treatment portal.

Ecstasy/MDMA treatment and therapy options

According to the 2013 NSDUH, of the 2.5 million Americans who sought rehab services at a specialized facility, 303,000 received treatment for abuse of hallucinogens. At this time, there are no specialized treatment approaches for MDMA abuse specifically. However, ecstasy abusers have proven to be responsive to traditional rehab treatment methodologies including:

  • Detox
  • Abstinence Maintenance Programs
  • Individual Psychotherapy
  • Group Recovery Meetings
  • Aftercare

Although there are no targeted medications currently approved to treat ecstasy abuse, antidepressants may be prescribed in the case of a dual diagnosis (i.e., a mental health disorder co-occurring with substance abuse). The lack of a targeted treatment is not specific to ecstasy, as rehab tends to be less about attacking an individual drug than helping the substance abuser holistically. As ecstasy users may be poly-drug users, and poly-drug use is particularly dangerous, a structured rehab intervention will likely be necessary in most cases.


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