Commonly associated with a class of drugs known as club drugs, MDMA is known for its ability to affect the way users feel, see, hear, and experience the outside world. Often called by its nicknames of E, Molly, or Ecstasy, MDMA does not occur naturally. Instead, it must be manufactured through the combination of other chemicals. Because of this, MDMA is often laced with chemicals of unknown origin which can make it highly dangerous and unpredictable.
If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to MDMA, consult an addiction treatment professional like the team at Solution Based Treatment & Detox right away.
What is MDMA?
MDMA is an acronym for the chemicals it contains, which were first developed for use among patients needing psychiatric support. Over time, however, MDMA has largely become a recreational drug with little to no medical use. Most commonly found in tablet form, MDMA is often printed with logos or other symbols that refer to its dealers, creators, or sellers.
Because MDMA is manmade, the chemical composition of the drug can vary depending on who manufactured it or how it was made. In many cases, MDMA that is sold as “pure” or unadulterated is, in fact, “cut” or laced with other chemicals, including opioid drugs, a combination of drugs known as “bath salts,” or chemical compounds including caffeine and amphetamine. The presence of these so-called “adulterant” chemicals can lead to health risks for unsuspecting users, especially when MDMA is combined with other drugs such as alcohol.
MDMA first became widely popular through nightclub and dance culture but has since spread into popular culture. Because users often take MDMA in social settings, the drug is frequently present alongside other drugs, such as alcohol and hallucinogens, which can lead to health complications when combined.
What Does MDMA Do to Your Brain
MDMA has a stimulant effect on the body, causing both the brain and body to speed up activity and become more sensitive to outside stimulation. This is one reason the drug first became popular among clubgoers seeking both a boost in energy and a heightened sense of awareness.
When it enters the bloodstream, MDMA prompts the brain to begin producing higher levels of neurotransmitters, chemical messengers that control the nervous system. MDMA causes the brain to produce particularly high levels of dopamine, a “feel good” chemical that boosts energy, as well as other neurotransmitters which can cause the individual’s heart rate to increase and lessen their appetite and need for sleep. Since MDMA can persist in the body for hours at a time, users may feel a sense of euphoric calm, reduced inhibitions, and “scrambled” senses, including seeing hallucinatory visions and hearing or feeling sensations that aren’t real.
The Signs & Symptoms of MDMA Abuse
Because MDMA is often taken recreationally while in a social setting, habitual users may not show obvious signs of intoxication in everyday situations. However, because the drug is frequently mixed with other drugs and may encourage individuals to experiment with other addictive substances, there are clear signs and symptoms to watch for. If you or a loved one are chronically using MDMA, please contact an addiction treatment professional as soon as possible even if you are not experiencing any of the signs and symptoms below, as chronic use can be dangerous to your health.
Typically, warning signs of MDMA abuse fall into distinct physical and behavioral signs. We’ve broken down each category further below.
Physical warning signs of MDMA abuse include:
- Muscle aches and pains
- Difficulty seeing clearly
- Upset stomach or intestinal problems
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Lack of interest in food or eating
- Low sex drive
Behavioral warning signs of MDMA abuse include:
- Difficulty remembering everyday tasks
- Disinterest in hobbies or friends
- Missing work or school
- Lack of interest in personal or professional responsibilities
- Odd hours or change in behavior
- Increase in anxiety or stress
- Unpredictable moods and emotional responses
- Difficulty paying attention, even for short periods of time
- New friends or social groups revolving around drug use
- Inability to control the amount of drugs taken
If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms listed above, please seek help from a medical or addiction treatment professional. If left untreated, MDMA abuse can lead to a series of health complications, including:
- Increased use of other addictive substances, including alcohol and hallucinogens
- Damage to internal organs, including the heart, liver, and kidneys
- Strain on the heart due to increased heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Reckless, risky, or dangerous behavior, including driving under the influence
MDMA Withdrawal Symptoms
Like all drugs, MDMA can lead to a condition known as tolerance, in which the brain and body become accustomed to high levels of the drug. As a result, users need to consume higher doses of the drug to achieve the same effect as they experienced when they originally took the drug.
Over time, tolerance can develop into a physical dependence, which in turn may cause an individual to willingly risk damaging behaviors to continue their drug use. When someone who has developed a dependence on a drug tries to stop using the drug, they will likely experience withdrawal symptoms as the brain and body return to a baseline level.
In the case of MDMA, withdrawal symptoms may include a combination of the following symptoms:
- Emotional volatility, anger, or confusion
- Increased sweating
- Depression and anxiety
- “Fuzzy” thinking or inability to remember information
- Lack of energy and exhaustion
It’s critical that anyone attempting to stop their use of MDMA “cold turkey” by quitting the drug entirely needs to seek support from a medical or addiction treatment professional. These experts will guide the individual through a medically-supervised detoxification process that helps keep them safer and more comfortable than attempting to manage withdrawal on their own. Having professional supervision also ensures that the individual has support if they develop medical complications during the detoxification process.
MDMA Addiction Treatment & Recovery
MDMA use can be complex and research continues on whether the drug follows the classic “addiction pathways” that other drugs like opioids and alcohol do. Regardless, MDMA can be dangerous and even life-threatening, especially when users take adulterated versions or combine the drug with alcohol and other substances.
As a result, anyone who abuses MDMA or is unable to regulate the amount of the drug they consume should seek treatment. Treatment for MDMA at a reputable treatment provider will likely involve some of the following methods:
- Individual and group therapy
- 12-step or peer support groups
- Life skills and behavioral support
- Ongoing care and support after graduation (aftercare/alumni programs)
- Referrals to programs
- Assistance with employment and education post-treatment
If you or a loved one are concerned about your MDMA use, please reach out. Our team at Solution Based Treatment & Detox can help you better understand and overcome substance abuse for the long term.
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