Ecstasy, which contains the psychoactive chemical, MDMA, is an addictive “club drug” that is often abused in party and rave settings. It is a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning that it has no known medical use and has a high potential for abuse 1. People with an addiction to ecstasy engage in a pattern of compulsive use despite harmful consequences. Those who struggle with MDMA addiction are unable to control their use despite recognizing that their long-term abuse is having a negative impact on their lives.
Ecstasy is a man-made drug which contains MDMA, the acronym for its chemical name: 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine. It is commonly referred to as “molly” and is a unique drug in that its stimulant effects resemble those of cocaine and crystal meth, while its hallucinogenic effects resemble mescaline or LSD.
Ecstasy users can never be sure what’s actually contained in the pill, capsule, or powder they take; some may contain just a small amount of MDMA combined with any number of ingredients, including PCP, Ketamine, ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, caffeine, or over-the-counter medications 1. This variation in purity increases the user’s risk of experiencing adverse physical and mental health effects.
This article will provide the following information:
- Signs that you or a loved one is addicted.
- Treating ecstasy addiction.
- Cost and payment for treatment.
- Causes of ecstasy addiction.
- Long-term effects of ecstasy addiction.
- Find a treatment program.
Signs That You or a Loved One Is Addicted
Often referred to as a “club drug” because of its association with raves, clubs, and parties, ecstasy is a synthetic drug that became popular in the late 1980s and early 90s 1. Originally developed in 1912 by a German scientist as an appetite suppressant, ecstasy use has spread far beyond the club scene and into other settings, such as college dorms and social gatherings 1.
MDMA affects several neurotransmitter systems—networks of brain cells which contain chemicals such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. These signaling molecules help to regulate many brain functions, and in doing so impact a number of physiologic processes such as mood, appetite, and sleep. When people use ecstasy or MDMA, a surge in these various brain chemicals is responsible for the drug’s stimulant effects, feelings of euphoria, and in the case of serotonin, increased empathy and feelings of closeness to others 1.
While MDMA abuse affects everyone differently, there are a number of potential behavioral, psychological, and physical signs and symptoms characteristic of ecstasy addiction.
Some of the behavioral signs and symptoms of ecstasy addiction include 2:
- An inability to control your use of ecstasy, even when you try to limit or stop use.
- Larger doses of ecstasy are used than originally intended.
- Continued ecstasy use despite negative impact on interpersonal and social functioning.
- Continued ecstasy use despite physical or psychological complications caused or exacerbated by use.
- Continued ecstasy use despite failure to fulfill home, school, or work obligations.
- Ecstasy use in dangerous or risky situations, such as when driving.
- Spending increased time to acquire ecstasy, use it, and recover from its effects.
In addition, ecstasy abuse can also result in a host of physical and psychological signs and symptoms, including 1,3,4:
- Intense feelings of well-being.
- Increased empathy and emotional warmth.
- Distortions of time.
- Increased energy.
- Increased body temperature, as high as 108 degrees.
- Involuntary teeth clenching.
- Heightened senses.
- Increased relaxation.
- Feeling faint.
- Blurry vision.
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate.
- Kidney, liver, and heart failure.
- Intense cravings for ecstasy.
- Tolerance, meaning that you require more ecstasy to produce the same effects.
You don’t have to continue to suffer the consequences of an addiction to ecstasy or MDMA. Help is available. Call 1-888-439-3435 Who Answers? to speak to a treatment support specialist about the recovery options that best suit your needs.
Treating Ecstasy Addiction
Ecstasy addiction is treatable—no matter how long you’ve used, it’s never too late to seek a recovery program.
Although some people are successful in quitting on their own, obtaining help from addiction treatment programs can provide many benefits, including:
- Helping you obtain sobriety through professional support, education, and monitoring.
- Providing the structured routine that you need to commit to recovery.
- Focusing on changing dysfunctional thinking patterns and behaviors that may have contributed to the development of the addiction.
- Offering medical care, depending on your individual circumstances.
There are a number of different rehab options available to suit your needs. Any one type of treatment is not necessarily better than another; the best treatment for you is the one that you feel most comfortable with and that will allow you to fully commit to obtaining and maintaining sobriety.
Some of the recovery options for ecstasy addiction include:
- Medically-supervised detox: During the initial phases of recovery, detox can help you manage potential withdrawal symptoms like fatigue, loss of appetite, depression, and concentration problems 4.
- Inpatient treatment: Involving a residential stay anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, inpatient treatment offers intensive, round-the-clock support and monitoring, combined with individual and group therapy and other treatment methods.
- Outpatient treatment: This is a somewhat less time-intensive form of treatment that offers similar therapeutic methods to inpatient treatment, but the patient is allowed to live at home while attending an outpatient center one to several times per week.
- Luxury treatment: For those who have the means to afford them, luxury treatment facilities offer first-class, resort-like atmospheres with a wide range of amenities, such as golf, swimming pools, workout facilities, gourmet meals, and yoga.
- Executive treatment: Suitable for people in demanding or high-profile careers, such as CEOs and other professionals, this form of treatment takes place at high-end treatment centers that provide patients with private work rooms, phones, and internet access.
- 12-step programs: Often used in conjunction with other types of treatment methods, 12-step programs, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA), guide people down the path to sobriety by working through the 12 steps of recovery originally developed by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
- Holistic treatment: This form of treatment focuses on healing the whole person through psychological, spiritual, and physical modalities. For example, participants might be treated with organic foods and herbs, learn meditation for stress-management, or practice yoga for physical health and cultivating self-love.
- Population-specific treatment: Some treatment centers cater to the specialized needs of various populations, such as LGBT, veterans, men-only, women-only, and adolescents.
Ecstasy addiction is treatable—no matter how long you’ve used, it’s never too late to seek a recovery program.
There are no specific medications or treatment modalities used to treat ecstasy addiction. Many users have found that the most effective forms of treatment focus on behavioral changes 4.
If you or a loved one suffers from an addiction to ecstasy, don’t hesitate to call our helpline at 1-888-439-3435 Who Answers? to discuss treatment options. Caring support advisors are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Cost and Payment for Treatment
There is no standard or set price for treatment—the cost of treatment depends on a wide range of factors, such as the type of program you select, the length of treatment, the amenities offered, the program’s location, and your insurance coverage.
If you have insurance, call your insurance company to find out what your specific plan covers.
If you don’t have insurance, there are many ways in which you can finance your addiction treatment. Some of the ways people might finance their treatment include:
- Sliding scale: Some facilities may offer reduced fees based on a participant’s income and ability to pay.
- Payment plan: Paying off your treatment fee in installments can make the financial costs a bit easier to bear.
- Asking friends or family: Loved ones who are concerned about your well-being and sobriety may be willing to lend a helping hand and contribute some money to pay for your treatment program.
- Starting a crowdfunding campaign: Crowdfunding sites, such as IndieGoGo and GoFundMe, allow you to create a campaign in which you tell your story and receive donations to finance your recovery.
- Using a credit card: Think of your credit card like a payment plan that you just need to pay off a bit each month.
- Using your savings: Although using your savings may not be your first choice, it may be one of the most beneficial ways to pay for treatment.
In the end, you can’t put a price on your happiness, health, and sobriety. Do whatever it takes to make a positive change in your life.
Causes of Ecstasy Addiction
Substance addiction is a multi-faceted condition that is influenced by a number of factors—it’s never caused by one factor alone. Some of the causes of addiction include:
- Mental health 5: People who suffer from mental health disorders, such as mood or anxiety disorders, are nearly twice as likely to develop a substance addiction.
- Trauma6: People who experienced traumatic events, or adverse childhood experiences, such as abuse, neglect, and witnessing violence, have an increased risk of becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol.
- Environment 7: Environmental risk factors, such as drug availability, community poverty, and lack of parental supervision, can increase the likelihood of substance abuse and progression to addiction.
- Genes 8: Individuals who have a genetic predisposition for substance abuse may be more vulnerable to developing an addiction, but remember that genes aren’t destiny; even if substance abuse runs in your family, that doesn’t mean you’ll become addicted too.
Long-term Effects of Ecstasy Addiction
Addiction is a progressive condition. The longer your ecstasy or MDMA addiction goes untreated, the more severe the condition will get. Long-term ecstasy use can have a number of negative consequences on mental and physical health and seriously impact your overall ability to function.
Some of the potential long-term physical and mental effects of ecstasy addiction include 1,2,9,10,11:
- Sleep disturbances.
- Severe anxiety.
- Increased risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis, due to unsafe sexual practices.
- Possible damaged serotonin neurons and terminals, resulting in diminished serotonin levels.
- Memory impairment.
- Mood disturbances.
Ecstasy addiction can lead to negative consequences in other areas of your life, such as:
- Decreased performance at work/school.
- Losing your job.
- Neglecting your family responsibilities.
- Legal problems, resulting from possession, dealing, or driving under the influence.
- Relationship difficulties, such as potential divorce or losing close friends.
- Loss of interest in areas of life you once enjoyed, such as hobbies or extracurricular activities.
Find a Treatment Program
- Center for Substance Abuse Research. (2013). Ecstasy.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Substance Use Disorders.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2006). MDMA (Ecstasy) Abuse: Letter from the Director.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). DrugFacts: MMA (Ecstasy/Molly).
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2010). Comorbidity: Addiction and Other Mental Illnesses.
- Herrenkohl, T., Hong, S., Klika, J.B., Herrenkohl, R. and Russo, M.J. (2013). Developmental Impacts of Child Abuse and Neglect Related to Adult Mental Health, Substance Use, and Physical Health. Journal of Family Violence, 28 , 191-199.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2003). Preventing Drug Use among Children and Adolescents.
- University of Utah Genetic Science Learning Center. Genes and Addiction.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2007). Long-term effects of ecstasy: neurotoxic?
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2007). Long-term ecstasy use may impair memory.
- Kelly, P. (2000). Does recreational ecstasy use cause long-term cognitive problems? Western Journal of Medicine, 173 (2), 129-130.