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An illegal drug that is both a stimulant and a psychedelic, MDMA or 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine can affect the brain by altering its neurotransmitters, raise body temperature, and can lead to several medical consequences including death. Popularly known as Ecstasy and “Molly,” MDMA abuse involves ingesting, snorting or swallowing crystalline white powder or capsules.

A powerful synthetic drug, “Molly” or MDMA is popularly used by young people in nightclubs, music festivals and dance parties. Though both “Molly” and Ecstasy are made from MDMA, Ecstasy is consumed in pill form while “Molly” is marketed as a pure form of MDMA and used in a powdered or crystal-like form. While the drug in its purest form is difficult to come by, both “Molly” and Ecstasy may be combined with other drugs including heroin, LSD, caffeine, amphetamine and cocaine to get the desired effects.

How does MDMA work?

MDMA is a popular drug of abuse by young people who attend raves, music festivals and other large dance parties due to its effects such as an elevated mood, high energy, more pleasure and an enhanced social experience.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), MDMA affects the activity of three brain chemicals – dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine, and is responsible for releasing these neurotransmitters from their storage sites resulting in an increased neurotransmitter activity. According to the NIDA:

  • MDMA produces a surge in dopamine, the brain chemical associated with pleasure and reward, which is responsible for increased energy and euphoric effects.
  • The emotional closeness, empathy and enhanced social connections that people experience while taking MDMA is primarily due to the drug’s activity of serotonin, a brain chemical associated with sleep, appetite, sexual arousal and mood.
  • With the release of norepinephrine, a brain chemical involved in the brain’s physiological response to stress and a chemical responsible for affecting cardiovascular activity in the body, the user might experience increased blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate and alertness.

MDMA abuse

Ecstasy and “Molly” are two kinds of the same drug, both of which contain MDMA. Ecstasy is usually sold in a tablet or pill form that is pressed with different logos and designs, while “Molly” is thought to be the “pure” form of the drug and is typically sold as capsules containing a white crystalline powder.

MDMA can be dangerous when it is replaced – and often is – by a cheaper drug substitute such as “bath salts.” Ecstasy, the tablet form of the drug, is often combined with amphetamines, methamphetamine, heroin, ketamine and other drugs which can have other harmful effects. People also commonly mix MDMA with marijuana, alcohol, nicotine and other drugs, which can also be dangerous.

MDMA abuse: Short-term effects

The effects of MDMA include elevations in users’ mood, changes in awareness of their senses and time, increased energy, pleasure and enhanced feelings of social connection, which cause users to feel more empathetic and closer to others around them.

Depending on the method of administration (e.g., snorting or ingesting), MDMA takes approximately 15 minutes to an hour to start taking effect. The effects can last up to six hours. Low doses of MDMA can lead to pleasant and euphoric effects, distortions of senses, and an enhanced sense of well-being. A popular drug, MDMA can have a variety of adverse health effects.

Following are some of the effects of MDMA abuse:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Blurred vision
  • Teeth grinding and involuntary jaw clenching
  • Chills and/or sweating
  • Nausea or faintness
  • Confusion
  • Paranoia

Heat-related illnesses due to MDMA is especially common in users who do not drink enough or drink too much water. People may develop hyperthermia (heat-related illness), or hyponatremia (drinking too much water). Hyponatremia can be problematic for MDMA users, as it can dilute the amount of sodium in the body.

MDMA abuse: Health consequences and long-term effects

When taken for several days in a row or when taken repeatedly over long periods of time, MDMA can also lead to physical and psychological problems. It can affect body temperature regulation, and at higher doses of the drug, cardiovascular, kidney or liver damage and even failure, can occur.

MDMA can also deplete serotonin, resulting in lasting changes in a person’s behavior and mood. Memory problems, mood changes, and cognitive difficulties are particularly common in the days and weeks following MDMA use. A moderate use of MDMA may cause its users to experience a range of emotions including irritability, anxiety, restlessness and sadness.

Serious consequences of long-term MDMA abuse include neuronal damage, brain lesions and hemorrhages, convulsions, and organ damage or failure. Problems with thought processes, memory and information processing are also common in long-term MDMA users.

Continued use of the drug can cause one to develop psychological and physical dependence causing one to experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when its use is stopped abruptly. Following are some of the MDMA withdrawal symptoms:

  • Sleep problems (e.g., insomnia)
  • Irritability
  • Impulsivity
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety and/or depressive symptoms
  • Psychosis
  • Attention and memory problems
  • Decreased interest/pleasure from sex
  • Risky sexual behaviors, which can increase the risk of contracting a sexually-transmitted disease or infection

A supervised MDMA detox treatment at certified MDMA detox centers can help ease the MDMA withdrawal symptoms and minimize the likelihood of a relapse.

MDMA addiction

MDMA has a high potential for abuse, and addiction is possible. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5; American Psychiatric Association or APA) classifies MDMA addiction as “Other Hallucinogen Disorder” along with other drugs like mescaline, peyote and lysergic acid diethylamide (LDS).

A Schedule I drug MDMA overdose is possible, especially in people who take large doses of the drug. A party drug, MDMA abuse can have serious and long-lasting side effects. A powerful stimulant that increases heart rate and body temperature, MDMA usage in any form can result in death due to overheating of organs.

Following are some of the effects of MDMA overdose:

  • Heat stroke
  • Hyperthermia
  • Seizures
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Coma
  • Death

MDMA abuse treatment

While there are no specific treatments for MDMA abuse, the most effective treatments for drug abuse combine medically supervised detox program along with cognitive behavioral interventions. A medical intervention procedure, detoxification treatment works by clearing out the body of all the toxins or abused substances thereby helping an individual benefit from the substance addiction treatments offered.

Post a successful detox, patients should be enrolled in an addiction treatment program that continues to build on relapse prevention tools, coping mechanisms, healthy habits, and much more. Behavioral interventions at certified treatment centers are also aimed at changing a patient’s thinking and behavior and also helps impart effective life skills and tools to support long-term and drug-free recovery.

Why choose Sovereign Health?

As a dual licensed center, Sovereign Health uses a medically informed approach to help its clients become free of their addiction and enjoy long-term wellness. Sovereign Health provides expert treatment for women patients addicted to MDMA at its state-of-the-art treatment facility in Chandler, Arizona. During the admissions process for MDMA treatment, female patients undergo a thorough assessment to diagnose and create an individualized treatment plan as per their needs.

Sovereign Health of Arizona’s MDMA treatment program for women includes an array of evidence-based, complementary and experiential treatments and therapies. A comprehensive treatment plan for MDMA addiction at Sovereign Health combines a range of evidence-based behavioral therapies including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, equine therapy and neurofeedback training. Additionally, female patients at our Chandler, Arizona, facility are also offered experiential therapies including yoga, meditation and expressive arts therapy that help them identify and address the hidden issues responsible for their addiction and related disorders.

For more information about Sovereign Health of Arizona’s MDMA addiction treatment program or to locate our state-of-the-art treatment centers, please call our admissions specialist at our 24/7 helpline number. You can even chat online with our representative for further assistance.

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