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Ecstasy (MDMA) Addiction Drug Rehabilitation  

Ecstasy (MDMA) Addiction Drug Rehabilitation

The drug 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA, combines the effects of stimulants and hallucinogens, making it one of the most popular party drugs worldwide. Also known as “ecstasy,” MDMA changes the user’s energy and sensory experiences. This drug can cause risky behavior and potentially dangerous health risks. Using MDMA regularly can also lead to ecstasy addiction.

If you or someone you know has an addiction to ecstasy or uses it frequently, Gateway Foundation can support you. Our MDMA drug rehabilitation treatment centers in Illinois help patients stop using harmful drugs.

What Is Ecstasy/MDMA?

What Is Ecstasy/MDMA?

Ecstasy is the street name of a modified methamphetamine — 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA. This illegal synthetic drug is a powerful stimulant with hallucinogenic properties commonly found at raves, clubs, music festivals and similar events.

The drug is used to heighten the party experience, enhancing a user’s senses of sight, sound and touch. It’s also thought to promote feelings of happiness and friendliness. Taking MDMA can have serious and potentially fatal consequences. The drug produces many adverse side effects — and some pills sold as ecstasy contain either little or no MDMA at all. Users never know what fillers have been used or what side effects they may produce.

Other names for MDMA include:

  • Ecstasy
  • E
  • M&M
  • Caps
  • Eckies
  • Molly

Ecstasy has been given a Schedule I drug classification by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), meaning it has a high risk of misuse and has no accepted medical uses. 

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What Is the Difference Between Molly and Ecstasy?

What Is the Difference Between Molly and Ecstasy?

While Molly is another name for ecstasy, there is technically a difference between the two. Ecstasy describes the designer version of MDMA found in pill or tablet form. Molly is MDMA’s white powder or crystal-like form. The symptoms of someone on Molly can be the same as someone on ecstasy, and both Molly and ecstasy can potentially be cut with other ingredients, such as:

  • Caffeine
  • Amphetamine
  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • LSD
  • Rat poison

How Is MDMA/Ecstasy Used?

How Is MDMA/Ecstasy Used?

MDMA comes in a few different forms. However, it’s commonly seen as a small white or colored pill, often stamped with words, pictures, symbols or a logo. Two pills may be touted as ecstasy, but even if they share the same symbol, they may have different ingredients and thus different effects.

Ecstasy is also sold in the form of lollipops or baby pacifiers to help with the clenched jaw side effect produced by the drug.

What Does Ecstasy Do to Your Mind and Body?

What Does Ecstasy Do to Your Mind and Body?

Ecstasy is a popular party drug because of the intense symptoms and side effects it produces on the body. From the inability to fall asleep to strong waves of serotonin flooding the brain, it’s no wonder why the characteristics of this substance can cause addiction.

When a person first takes ecstasy, they’ll experience changes to their nervous system that can cause them to feel an overwhelming sense of well-being. It will heighten physical and mental feelings that can slowly start to cause harm to the body over prolonged use. Consider the impact ecstasy can have on the mind and body of an individual who uses the substance.

Effects on the Mind

Effects on the Mind

Nearly every substance has an impact on the brain. The side effects on the brain are partially the reason why people will take ecstasy in the first place. The substance alters the person’s mind and produces certain feelings or moods that are associated with the “high” or euphoric feeling of ecstasy.

Ecstasy will alter the brain during the high, but it will also gradually change the essential parts of the brain necessary for everyday functions. These functions include memory and learning.

This substance will interact with neurotransmitters and provide people with extreme changes in their mood. With regular use of this substance, chemicals in the brain can begin to dwindle down and bring up unwanted changes in your mind.

The three chemicals that communicate with the brain to produce certain feelings are serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. Ecstasy can trigger an increase in these chemicals and lead to potentially harmful changes to the mind.

These chemicals send messages to the brain like:

  • Serotonin: This chemical works to regulate a person’s emotional function. Serotonin also helps regulate sleep cycles, digestion, pain management and others.
  • Norepinephrine: This chemical helps stabilize sleep, anxiety, mood, focus and energy. Norepinephrine is involved in a person’s fight or flight response. 
  • Dopamine: This chemical will regulate a person’s focus, mood and other central nervous systems operations.

Serotonin is the main chemical that ecstasy impacts. Ecstasy will cause the body to release large amounts of serotonin, which is the reason people will experience such an intense high. After the high ends, it depletes the serotonin in a person’s system. This depletion can contribute to unwanted effects like unpleasant emotions, low focus, irregular sleep patterns and other negative feelings.

Effects on the Body

Effects on the Body

People will misuse substances like ecstasy for the mental effects, but they can also impact various parts of the body and physical health. The effects can range from mild to severe depending on duration of misuse and dose.

The main effects on the body from ecstasy include:

  • Pupils: A person using ecstasy will have large dilated pupils. The pupils dilate because ecstasy impacts the central nervous system that also controls autonomic bodily functions.
  • Heart: A person’s heart rate and blood pressure will increase with ecstasy use.
  • Body temperature: Ecstasy can trigger the body to raise its core temperature.

These effects from ecstasy can be dangerous to the body. With higher core body temperature and increased heart rate, people can be at risk for overheating or dehydration.

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History of Ecstasy

History of Ecstasy

MDMA was first developed for medicinal purposes in 1912. The drug, known as Methylsafrylaminc, was used to control bleeding. MDMA gained popularity among psychiatrists in the late 1970s and early ’80s who used the drug to enhance communication with patients during sessions. They believed it improved patient insight into their problems.

Around the same time that MDMA was being explored in psychiatric settings, the drug exploded on the streets. It started as a rave drug in Europe and slowly made its way into the United States. By the 1990s, ecstasy was extremely popular among college students looking to party.

In 1985, however, the DEA banned MDMA and placed it on the list of Schedule I drugs, where it remains today. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that 21 million people use ecstasy globally.

Signs and Symptoms of Ecstasy Addiction

Signs and Symptoms of Ecstasy Addiction

Ecstasy is known as a party drug and is associated with places like clubs, raves and concerts. While it’s popular with individuals who enjoy that lifestyle, any person can misuse ecstasy. The characteristics of the substance and the side effects people experience make MDMA an addictive drug. Any individual can start developing psychological or physical dependencies on ecstasy.

Typically, an individual can identify a negative health behavior and stop, but substance use disorder is a chronic condition that is challenging for any person who tries to stop on their own. Substance use disorder can range in severity and take over a person’s ability to control their decisions. With continual use of ecstasy, the brain’s reward system will want to repeat the euphoric sensation and begin craving it. The individual will then start doing whatever it takes to obtain the high.

Individuals struggling with substance use will show various signs that they need help halting ecstasy use. The signs and symptoms can vary depending on what other substance a person uses along with ecstasy or if they take the drug on its own.

First Signs to Look For
 

If someone believes they have a family member who’s misusing ecstasy, noticing the signs of substance use disorder or dependence is possible when you know what to look out for. Noticing the signs of ecstasy addiction early means you or a loved one can get help early on in the ecstasy addiction process.

You may not notice the signs at first because it’s the beginning of a person’s substance use problems. It’s helpful to consider the person’s background and other factors that may contribute to their risk of developing an addiction. The first things a person can look out for includes:

  • Experimenting with substances like ecstasy
  • Showing new interests in activities or places where ecstasy is accessible
  • Knowing the individual has a family history of addiction
  • Going through ecstasy binges without feeling negative about the substance use
  • Showing special attention to a certain substance like ecstasy

Certain substance use can be seen as a social behavior rather than an addiction, especially with a club drug like ecstasy. Depending on the situations where this person uses the substances, it’s important to pay attention to their behaviors surrounding the ecstasy use. 

One of the professionals at an MDMA drug rehab treatment center can also screen you, your friend or family member for addiction. They can then create a care strategy that will help you or a loved one recover. 

Signs of Ecstasy Use

Here are a few signs and symptoms that stand out for ecstasy use:

  • Clenching teeth
  • Completing compulsive acts
  • Intense thirst
  • Dilated pupils
  • Extreme energy levels
  • Overwhelming feelings of love
  • Lowered symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Higher capacity for empathy
  • Enjoying heightened senses of touch and sight
  • Having chills or sweats
  • Cramping muscles
  • Exhibiting poor judgment
  • Experiencing memory loss
  • Increased heart rate or blood pressure
  • Involuntary shakes
  • Balancing or coordination problems
  • Intense social gestures

Personality Changes

There are other common signs of substance use disorder that people can look out for if they or a loved one is potentially struggling with ecstasy use:

  • Feeling like the person has to use the substance regularly to function
  • Spending a majority of their money on ecstasy
  • Being unsuccessful when attempting to quit ecstasy use
  • Having trouble blocking out thoughts about ecstasy
  • Participating in risky activities while on ecstasy, like driving or swimming
  • Stealing money or other valuables to pay for more ecstasy
  • Missing important work or school obligations
  • Making sure they have a stocked supply of ecstasy
  • Spending a significant amount of time and money on using ecstasy
  • Lying or being secretive
  • Distancing from friends and family members
  • Experiencing legal or financial troubles
  • Having feelings of paranoia
  • Losing interest in hobbies or activities

Health Changes

Physical wellness is another aspect people should look out for with any type of substance use. Ecstasy use can gradually cause a decline in a person’s health,

The health signs that can point to a substance use issue include:

  • Needing to increase the dose of the substance to feel the symptoms
  • Experiencing intense cravings for ecstasy
  • Continuing ecstasy use despite knowing its negative effects
  • Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal when lowering the dose of ecstasy or halting use
  • Feeling sick often
  • Changing appetite or weight
  • Having poor grooming habits or declining health for teeth, hair and skin

Don’t Ignore The Signs

Ecstasy use destroys lives. Get the support you need to help yourself or your loved one break free of MDMA addiction.

What Causes Ecstasy Addiction

What Causes Ecstasy Addiction

The exact cause of substance use disorder is more complicated than a single answer. There are many factors that may contribute to an individual’s risk of developing an addiction to ecstasy.

Substance use disorder can impact any person regardless of their gender, occupation, age, religion or any background factors. The risk of developing an addiction to ecstasy can be related to five factors — genetics, environment, early use, co-occurring disorders and drug choice. While these factors aren’t definitive in the exact reason for addiction, they can all play a role in a person’s journey.

Genetics

People who develop a substance use disorder will have a different chemical reaction in their brain when using ecstasy than people who don’t suffer from addiction. Some people may think that addiction is solely to blame for lack of willpower, but the reality is that substance use disorder is a chronic condition that people can be susceptible to if it runs in their family.

The genetic factor for addiction can help explain why certain individuals can take substances regularly and not develop an addiction while others will. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that half of a person’s risk for developing an addiction is rooted in their genetics and family history.

The type of addiction a person develops doesn’t have to be the same as a family member. If a parent has struggled with alcohol addiction, their child may have a higher risk for developing a substance use problem with any type of substance or activity.

Environment

A big contributor to an individual’s risk of substance use issues is the environment they grew up in or are currently experiencing. Some environmental factors that can influence a person’s risk for addiction include lack of parental engagement for teens or children, the area a person lives in or grows up in or substance availability.

Adolescents who have parents or guardians who play a small role in their daily routines can find themselves relying on their peers for decision advice. This can lead teens or young kids to have no one teaching them to say no to ecstasy or drug use.

The area a person grows up or currently lives in also plays a role in their risk of developing an addiction. Areas where drugs are readily available make it easier for people to use them at their leisure. Low-income areas are also impacted by substance use because of poor access to resources and education on the topic.

Early Use

A person who begins experimenting with substances at a young age may increase their risk of having a substance use problem. Feeding into an addictive behavior at a young age can potentially lead to severe substance use problems and produce unwanted health effects.

Early substance use can make serious alterations to the brain and its development. This can make individuals more susceptible to mental health problems as they progress in their substance use disorder.

While starting drug use at any age can potentially lead to an addiction, early use is still a prominent factor in a person’s risk. Early use of ecstasy along with other factors like genetics, environment or trauma is something individuals should consider in substance use disorder prevention.

Co-occurring Disorders

A dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder describes a person who lives with substance use disorder and a mental health condition. Any mental health condition can increase the likelihood of developing a substance use problem, and substance use disorder is known to cause individuals to develop mental health conditions as a long-term effect. 

A person with mental health conditions should take necessary precautions around substances like drugs or alcohol because they can intensify the symptoms of the substance and the condition. People may also turn to drugs like ecstasy to self-medicate when their symptoms of anxiety, bipolar disorder or any other mental health condition become too bothersome. 

Drug Choice

The substance a person chooses can impact the risk of developing substance use disorder. Some substances have more addictive characteristics than others, like cocaine, methamphetamines and heroin. 

Ecstasy is addictive because of the intense serotonin release. After the effects of the substance wear off, people may continue to try and recreate the initial high they experienced. This process may lead to a cycle of using ecstasy and chasing after the wanted euphoric feelings. Because it’s difficult to know what additives are in ecstasy, someone using the drug may also be using other addictive substances.

Short- and Long-Term Effects of Ecstasy Addiction 

All substances can impact your overall health and potentially cause lasting effects. People may brush off the effects at first and only consider the feelings they get from ecstasy. As time goes on, the effects will gradually become worse and start leaving permanent damage on the body. It’s essential to learn about all of the physical, mental and emotional effects that ecstasy will put on the body. With that knowledge, it’s easy to understand why treatment is necessary.

If you or your loved one is misusing ecstasy, consider the short-term and long-term effects of the substance to understand how overall health can slowly decrease over time with substance use.

Short-Term Effects

Short-Term Effects

Even after the initial use of ecstasy, people may experience the short-term effects of the drug. These short-term issues may seem small or irrelevant at the time, but they can cause damage to your health and overall wellness, especially with prolonged use.

The short-term effects will last anywhere from a few hours to less than a day. The potential health effects a person may experience includes:

  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Hallucinations or visual changes
  • Profound emotions
  • Lower appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Heightened sense of affection
  • Strong cravings for the substance
  • Muscle cramps or tension
  • Feelings of confusion or anxiousness
  • Insomnia or other sleep issues
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Sudden burst of energy
  • Sweating or chills
  • Distorted perception of time
  • Twitching eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Feelings of depression the next day
  • No control of jaw clenching
  • Strong sense of mental clarity
  • Tremors
  • Fainting
  • Increased anxiety or depression

Long-Term Effects

Long-Term Effects

If an individual’s substance use disorder continues and becomes increasingly more severe, long-term health effects may start to set in. The long-term effects of ecstasy can potentially cause permanent damage to a person’s body. 

Regular ecstasy use makes it difficult for a person to quit. The negative impacts on a person’s health can be a wake-up call for many to start looking for treatment options. Routine ecstasy use is not a sustainable lifestyle, so noting the harmful effects can save someone from a damaging lifestyle or possible death.

The long-term effects that can occur from regular ecstasy use include:

1. Brain Problems

Ecstasy is a stimulant and hallucinogen, which both impact various parts of the brain. The feelings of positivity and visual effects that people experience can tempt people to start using the substance in the first place. Since this drug causes numerous symptoms and side effects to the mind, continual use may cause long-lasting damage to the brain.

Some essential aspects that ecstasy or MDMA can impact are memory and learning. MDMA and ecstasy can alter the hippocampal function of the brain, as the substance use disrupts the normal operations of this part of the brain.

Alterations in memory and learning can change a person’s everyday life. The more a person uses this substance, the more damage they can inflict on the neuronal cells in the brain.

2. Heart Problems

Cardiovascular damage is a concern for individuals who are using ecstasy and MDMA. There are three main effects that are harmful to a person’s health and can lead to other health problems:

  • Hypertension: High blood pressure or hypertension is a condition that can damage a person’s body without their knowledge. High blood pressure can potentially lead to a heart attack, stroke or poor quality of life because of disability. 
  • High core temperature: A high internal temperature, also known as hyperthermia, is one of the reasons why people die from ecstasy use. Overheating is dangerous, especially in party scenes where people are also dehydrated.
  • Increased heart rate: Having a high heart rate or tachycardia is dangerous because a person may not receive the blood they need throughout their body. This can limit the oxygen that organs receive and lead to other severe heart issues.

3. Liver and Kidney Problems

Other long-term effects like high internal temperature and lack of thirst can lead to liver and kidney damage. Liver damage can cause symptoms like chronic fatigue and other signs of liver disease. Kidney damage can cause poor sleep, swollen ankles and other symptoms of kidney damage

4. Damage From Poly Drug Use

People may mix other substances with their ecstasy use to increase their effects. Since ecstasy use is seen among people who attend clubs, parties, concerts and raves, it’s common for individuals to consume alcohol or other drugs along with ecstasy. The other substances can cause long-lasting damage to other parts of the body or heighten the damage that ecstasy will produce. 

5. Other Damages

Other long-term effects from ecstasy use include:

  • Death
  • Seizure
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Increase in impulsive decisions
  • Depletion of serotonin
  • Hemorrhaging
  • Convulsions

How to Know When It's Time for Treatment

How to Know When It’s Time for Treatment

Seeking out treatment is the best thing a person can do when they’re struggling with their substance use problem. If you or a loved one is experiencing the health effects of ecstasy or showing signs of a Molly addiction, here are four reasons it’s time to find a treatment facility.

1. Overall Health Is Declining

Ecstasy can start harming areas all over the body. Initial substance use may show mild health effects, but the more a person uses ecstasy, the more they’ll begin to notice they can’t function like they used to. People can start feeling more tired and weak because of an array of health issues ecstasy can cause. Any decline in health is a sign for a person to find treatment options for their ecstasy use.

2. Tolerance of Ecstasy Is High

A person may only need a small dose of ecstasy to feel the symptoms of the substance. If a person starts to need higher and higher doses of the substance to feel the side effects, this is a sign that tolerance is developing. A high tolerance to ecstasy can signal intense withdrawal symptoms and a strong dependence on the drug. It’s important to seek out treatment to prevent any more harmful effects or possible overdose. 

3. Withdrawal Symptoms Are Too Much

If a person decides to quit using ecstasy or drops their dose amount significantly, they may experience strong symptoms of withdrawal. Substance withdrawal can cause uncomfortable or harmful symptoms that make it difficult to stop using the substance without assistance. If the withdrawal symptoms are too much for an individual to handle, finding treatment can help make the recovery process possible. 

4. Drug Use Becomes a Priority

The first few times using ecstasy may seem like a side activity, but the substance can quickly start intruding on other parts of a person’s life. Drug use may start taking priority over work, school or time with loved ones. It’s crucial to find recovery treatment when ecstasy starts becoming a person’s entire life.

The Time For Treatment is Now

Don’t let your substance use and co-occurring disorders continue to wreak havoc on your life. Start your recovery today.

Types of Treatment for Ecstasy Addiction

Types of Treatment for Ecstasy Addiction

If you think you have an addiction to ecstasy, an MDMA drug addiction rehabilitation center can provide treatment. Treatment for MDMA addiction tends to focus on cognitive behavioral therapy, which is where the patient works on their thoughts and feelings related to the drug. Many people who use MDMA also use other drugs, so they may need treatment for multiple substance use disorders.

A person with a hallucinogen use disorder may receive treatment services like:

  • Medical support: A clinic may prescribe medication for you that can help you manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
  • Specialized and group therapy: Addiction treatment centers can offer a wide range of therapy programs, including group counseling.
  • Social support and care plan coordination: Some providers have treatment plan coordination and referrals to social services.

Every patient has a unique experience with MDMA addiction treatment that depends on their symptoms and provider.

The Process of Treating Ecstasy Addiction

Treatment for ecstasy addiction looks different for every person. Some people may have a more severe substance use disorder than others, they may need a better support system to guide them through recovery or they may need medical assistance with their withdrawal process. These differences require various levels of care to help offer effective treatments.

Consider the five levels of care that can help people across the board and slowly integrate them back into their normal lives.

Withdrawal Management

The withdrawal symptoms of ecstasy can be overwhelming. They can make people feel sick and uncomfortable, and they are a huge reason why people have trouble stopping use of the substance. With withdrawal management or medical detox from Gateway Foundation, people can start off their recovery process with professional assistance.

Withdrawal management will provide patients with around-the-clock care and access to medical staff to help reduce the symptoms of withdrawal. In some situations, medication-assisted treatment is necessary to help make the process of withdrawal safe and tolerable for the patient. 

Residential Inpatient Treatment

Patients who require intensive addiction treatment and need a safe space to begin their recovery can benefit from residential inpatient treatment. An inpatient rehab program is a great option for individuals who need a space where there is zero access to ecstasy and they have 24/7 care from medical and mental health professionals. Residential treatment is a solid next step for people who first start with withdrawal management.

Partial Hospitalization Program

Patients who need a structured treatment program but have a safe home and quality support system to stay with at night can benefit from partial hospitalization programs. This program will have patients at a treatment facility all day throughout the week to go through their recovery plans, and then they’ll go home at night. This level of care is a great transition for people who start out in residential treatment or who need more assistance than outpatient treatment. 

Outpatient Treatment

Individuals who need treatment but also can maintain their personal life obligations like work or school can benefit from outpatient treatment. Patients will schedule appointments throughout the week to receive the care they need to recover.

Sober Living and Ongoing Support

The last level of care from Gateway Foundation is sober living and ongoing support. These services and programs provide an easier transitioning process for people to get back to their lives. This level of care also helps people continue their new lifestyle and prevent relapse from occurring.

Woman meeting with her therapist

Benefits of Seeking Treatment for Ecstasy Addiction

Addiction treatment centers can help people recover from ecstasy use, but it also teaches people how to live healthier lives. These two aspects and many others are excellent reasons to seek out treatment. Some other benefits of treatment include:

  • Learning more about addiction and why people develop substance use problems
  • Finding out the underlying issues that may contribute to addiction
  • Learning new methods for handling stressful situations
  • Building healthy habits and other lifestyle practices
  • Creating healthy boundaries in relationships
  • Rebuilding broken relationships with friends and family

Frequently Asked Questions About Ecstasy Use and Addiction Treatment

Do you have more questions about ecstasy addiction and treatment? Browse these common questions people have regarding the substance and recovery.

How Addictive Is Ecstasy?

How addictive ecstasy is varies with an individual’s risk factors, but you can get addicted to ecstasy. While studies suggest MDMA isn’t as addictive as other substances, like cocaine, it does have addictive potential.

Can You Die From an Ecstasy Overdose?

Yes. An ecstasy overdose is possible and can be life-threatening.

What Medications Are Used in Ecstasy Addiction Treatment?

You may be prescribed withdrawal management medications depending on your situation. A medical professional will prescribe these medications based on your needs and suggest them in an amount that’s safe for withdrawal.

What Should I Do if a Loved One or I Need Help With Ecstasy Addiction?

If you think that you or a loved one needs help recovering from ecstasy use, contact a treatment facility like Gateway Foundation to help you through the process.

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Treatment Approaches at Our Illinois Ecstasy/MDMA Drug Addiction Rehabilitation Center

Gateway’s ecstasy/MDMA drug treatment programs in Illinois involve a personalized approach to care. Our team believes that addiction has a wide range of interconnecting issues that we need to address for a successful recovery.

To treat all aspects of addiction, our care services include:

  • Identifying underlying issues: Our addiction professionals will help you determine any factors that contribute to your MDMA use.
  • Encouraging emotional wellness: We support every patient in finding passion in life outside of drug use.
  • Building a support network: Services like group therapy empower patients to find community in each other.
  • Treating medical symptoms: Addressing the physical effects of addiction makes it easier for patients to focus on a successful recovery.

We provide the resources you need to stop using MDMA and other dangerous drugs.

Visit Gateway for Ecstasy Addiction Treatment in Chicago

At Gateway, we have more than 50 years of experience working with patients in the Chicago area. We provide evidence-based treatment in a compassionate and accepting environment. To schedule your first appointment, send an online message to us.