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.
Overcoming a substance use disorder is hard, but you don’t have to struggle alone. Find supportive, evidence-based treatment at Gateway Foundation.
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:
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.
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.
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 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Here are a few signs and symptoms that stand out for ecstasy use:
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:
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:
Ecstasy use destroys lives. Get the support you need to help yourself or your loved one break free of MDMA 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
Other long-term effects from ecstasy use include:
Don’t let your substance use and co-occurring disorders continue to wreak havoc on your life. Start your recovery today.
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:
Every patient has a unique experience with MDMA addiction treatment that depends on their symptoms and provider.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Do you have more questions about ecstasy addiction and treatment? Browse these common questions people have regarding the substance and recovery.
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.
Yes. An ecstasy overdose is possible and can be life-threatening.
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.
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.
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:
We provide the resources you need to stop using MDMA and other dangerous drugs.
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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.