MDMA, or Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, is a street drug that gained popularity in the club and rave scene in the 1980’s and is still commonly used today. It was developed in Germany by the pharmaceutical company Merck and was originally used for psychotherapy treatments. Due to its effects such as increased sensory experience, increased energy, a sense of confidence, sensuality, and uplifted mood, it quickly became a popular street drug.
What is MDMA?
MDMA is often referred to as Ecstasy, E, or Molly, and is frequently mixed with other substances. It is a synthetic compound and is easily mixed with other drugs to enhance its effects. At its purest form it is a water-soluble white powder. It is sold in powder form, mixed with additive, sold as a salt, and, perhaps most well-known, as colorful pills. It is most commonly used orally, and users feel the effects within 30-45 minutes. Its effects usually last between 3-6 hours and bring the user a sense of euphoria due to its impact on serotonin and dopamine in the brain.
Effects of Use
Upon initial use people often describe feeling euphoric, more confident and energetic. There can be a sense of mania, and people who are high can appear childlike, giddy and chatty. There is heightened sensory experience and mild hallucinations that translate well into the party and/or dance environment, a large reason that MDMA is such a popular party drug. The pleasurable feelings associated with MDMA keep users coming back for more and more. Though typically said to be enjoyable, people can also experience increased sweating, teeth grinding, nausea, confusion, and vomiting.
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 levels naturally. After prolonged use an addiction develops where the only way to “feel normal” is for the addict to use again.
MDMA is never a safe drug to use. Short term effects can be deadly and lead to things like severe dehydration and overheating. People also experience loss of appetite, a lack of motivation, suicidal thoughts, or the loss of interest in daily life. Tooth and jaw damage are also common as people grind or chomp on their teeth when high.
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.
While people do not typically die from a direct overdose of MDMA, they can die because of complications from its effects.
MDMA leads to dehydration and hyperthermia, both which have caused death in users unaware that anything was even wrong.
Deaths linked to dehydration are often because the user is partying, unaware that they are becoming dehydrated and failing to consume beverages or non-alcoholic drinks.
Hyperthermia is a rise in body temperature which can lead to heart-attack and stroke.
What to look for
There are many things to watch for that could help you decipher whether or not your 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 too 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 more orally fixated, tending to suck and chew on candies and other substances. They may also engage in heightened or unsafe sexual practices.
How to treat MDMA addiction
There is no one way to treat addiction and we design every program around the specific individual. MDMA addiction can be tricky to spot as the addict often suffers mental instead of physical withdrawal symptoms. It can also be difficult because MDMA is hard to test for–it leaves the system within a few days so simple urine analysis or saliva testing can fail to diagnose the addiction.
Common withdrawal symptoms are anxiety, depression, paranoia, mood swings, violent thoughts and behavior, panic attacks, or psychosis. Usually the addict has a hard time admitting they have a problem and instead will seek out the drug as a source of comfort instead of treatment. It is important that the addict be weaned off of the drug by a professional who can monitor and ease these effects, thus also easing the user’s desire for relapse.
What can we do for you?
As addiction treatment professionals, it is our mission to try and help individuals experiencing MDMA addiction. We are here to provide necessary information, tips, resources, and treatment to individuals needing/seeking help. We believe that everyone deserves a chance to change their lives for the better. We want individuals whom have misused/overdosed on MDMA to know that we care for their well-being, and that change is possible.
Would you like to seek assistance from our highly trained professionals? We are looking forward to help 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 e-mail, please feel free to visit the “contact” tab on our website. 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.