A Brief Introduction to MDMA and MDMA Addiction
MDMA addiction, like any form of addiction, can have devastating effects on an individual. The drug was developed in Germany by the pharmaceutical company Merck. MDMA (or Methylenedioxymethamphetamine) was originally used in psychotherapy treatment. The CIA experimented with MDMA as a form of psychological weaponry during the Cold War. The CIA project MK-Ultra, which started during the 1950s, tested the use of MDMA and other psychedelics for mind control purposes. The project gained notoriety for testing its drugs on uninformed participants.
MDMA’s use as a recreational high began in the 1980s. During this time several chemists started circulating the drug around the nation in Texas, California, and New York (among other locations). They sold it across the country to convenience stores, gas stations, bars, and nightclubs. Use was so common that people could purchase the drug using their credit card through toll-free numbers. The uptick in use garnered the attention of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in 1984. The agency, through the publication of a notice, declared its intent to label MDMA as a Schedule I drug. Despite significant opposition in favor of making MDMA Schedule III, as research found that there was therapeutic potential to the drug, the DEA saw its abuse as a nationwide problem. In 1985 classified MDMA as Schedule I claiming it had no known medical value.
What is MDMA?
Common street names for MDMA include Ecstasy, E, or Molly. The drug has similarities to both stimulants and hallucinogens. Users typically begins feeling its effects about fifteen minutes after ingestion with these feelings lasting between three to six hours. MDMA users commonly experience an increase in energy and feelings of euphoria while on the drug. Similarly the drug triggers the release of hormones in the brain that can lead to increased feelings of sexual excitement, a heightened confidence in others, as well as a sense of closeness and empathy with other users of the drug.
It should also be noted that the drug also has a number of negative side effects. MDMA can result in users experiencing spikes in their heart rate and blood pressure which can be dangerous. In addition to this, MDMA also increases a person’s body temperature. As this happens the drug can impede a persons capability to tell if there body is overheating. The risk of fatality to MDMA increases in heated surroundings, for example in environments the drug is commonly used such as at music festivals and overfilled nightclubs. With that being said, even in controlled temperature environments MDMA can be fatal due to the body becoming excessively overheated.
Short Term Effects of MDMA
Upon initial use people often describe Ecstasy as feeling euphoric, giving them more confidence and energy. There can be a sense of mania, and people who are high can appear childlike, giddy, and chatty. Users experience heightened sensory stimulation and mild hallucinations. These experiences translate well into the party or dance environment, a large reason why MDMA is such a popular party drug. The pleasurable feelings associated with MDMA keep users coming back for more. Though typically said to be enjoyable, people can also experience increased sweating, teeth grinding, nausea, confusion, and vomiting. Short term effects can be deadly and can possibly lead to severe dehydration and overheating. In addition to this, people also experience a loss of appetite, a lack of motivation, suicidal thoughts, or the loss of interest in daily life.
While experiencing MDMA can be very pleasurable, after the high has worn off most users are left feeling depleted, exhausted, and depressed. This has to do with the fact that MDMA works to release and deplete levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. The need to feel euphoric again often leads people to return to the drug as they find themselves incapable of reaching those feelings naturally. After prolonged use an addiction develops where the only way to “feel normal” is to use the drug.
Long Term Effects of MDMA Addiction
Longer term use can also have dire consequences. Addicts can experience severe paranoia and lasting depression. It is not uncommon for mood swings to become part of a person’s daily life. Organ damage, specifically the liver and kidneys, happens because they work very hard to detoxify the body from the drug. Some people with a longer-term habit have experienced irreversible brain damage, which can be as small as memory loss, confusion, and difficulty problem solving, or as large as untreatable brain lesions.
Regular users of the drug experience the following problems:
- Difficulty Sleeping
- Frequent Changes in Mood
- Intensified depression or anxiety.
- Difficulty concentrating
- Poor Ability to Remember Things
- Loss of Weight
While people do not typically die directly from overdosing on MDMA, they can die because of complications from its effects. MDMA leads to dehydration and hyperthermia, both of which have caused death in users unaware that anything was even wrong. Deaths linked to dehydration are common because when the user is partying they are unaware they are becoming dehydrated and failing to consume fluids or non-alcoholic drinks. Hyperthermia is a rise in body temperature which can lead to heart-attack and stroke.
Signs and Symptoms of MDMA Addiction
There are several things to watch for that could help determine whether or not a loved one is abusing MDMA. You may notice that they become uncharacteristically happy and act more friendly towards both friends and strangers. They may seem very energetic and desire to talk for long periods of time without seeming tired.
Other things to note may be a loss of appetite or engagement in things they once enjoyed. Insomnia and increased energy at odd hours is also something to watch for. People who are high on MDMA can become orally fixated, tending to suck and chew on candies and other substances. They may also engage in heightened or unsafe sexual practices.
MDMA Addiction Treatment
There is no one way to treat addiction, therefore we design every program around the specific needs of the individual. MDMA addiction can be tricky to spot as the addict often suffers mental withdrawal rather than physical symptoms. It can also be difficult because MDMA is hard to test for– as it leaves the system within a few days, so a simple urine analysis or saliva testing can fail to recognize an addiction.
Common withdrawal symptoms are anxiety, depression, paranoia, mood swings, panic attacks, psychosis, or violent thoughts and behaviors. Usually the addict has a hard time admitting they have a problem and instead will seek out the drug as a source of comfort rather than treatment. It is important that the addict be under the supervision of professional who can monitor and ease their adverse effects, thereby also easing the user’s desire for relapse.
What Can We Do For You?
At Silicon Beach Treatment Center we are here to provide necessary information, tips, resources, and treatment to individuals needing or seeking help. As addiction treatment professionals, it is our mission to help individuals experiencing the pain of substance abuse disorder which includes MDMA addiction. We believe that everyone deserves a chance to change their lives for the better. Therefore, we want individuals who have misused or overdosed on MDMA to know that we care for their well-being, and that change is possible.
We are looking forward to helping you or your loved one as soon as possible. We are located in Los Angeles, CA. To reach our staff via phone, please feel free to call us at 833-LA-REHAB. If you would like to reach our team via email click here, where you can also check out the programs we have available. All information that we collect from those that are seeking help or loved ones looking to help someone are all confidential and never shared with any third-party entity.