MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly) Addiction
MDMA is a synthetic drug more commonly referred to by its street names, Ecstasy or Molly. MDMA used to be very popular at raves, music festivals, and in nightclubs, but today, it is more widely used by a diverse population of drug users.
Ecstasy acts as a hallucinogen, a stimulant, and an entactogen (a drug that increases self-awareness and empathy). It creates feelings of pleasure, energy and emotional closeness while also distorting a person’s perception of time and their senses.
This psychedelic drug is usually taken in the form of a capsule or tablet, but the powder can also be snorted. It can also be swallowed in liquid form. The term “Molly” is typically used to describe the powder form, which is usually sold in capsules.
The short-term effects of MDMA can last anywhere from three to six hours before they wear off, but many users take several capsules at once or over a short amount of time to extend their high.
MDMA is considered a “party drug” and is frequently taken with other drugs, such as LSD, alcohol, and marijuana. According to the DEA, many Ecstasy tablets purchased by drug users are not “pure,” rather, they contain various amounts of other harmful drugs like bath salts, methamphetamine, cocaine, MDA, and PMA, among others. This increases the risk of overdose for individuals that abuse MDMA.
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MDMA is a Schedule I drug but it is still widely abused by many people. According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 4.9 million people (or 1.9 percent of the population) reported using a hallucinogen drug sometime during the past year.
Although many drug users consider MDMA to be a fun-loving drug that provides a good time, there are several serious health risks associated with Ecstasy or Molly abuse that should be taken seriously.
Immediate short-term effects of MDMA abuse include:
- Increased sensitivity to touch
- Sexual arousal
- Increased activity and alertness
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Involuntary teeth clenching
- Muscle cramps
- Blurred vision
- Increased body temperature
The long-term health effects of MDMA are still being investigated, but some research has found that heavy use may impact memory over time.
Since MDMA also produces feelings of emotional closeness and sexual arousal, users are also at increased risk of contracting HIV/AIDS or hepatitis, due to unsafe sexual activity.
Research has not found clear evidence that MDMA is addictive, although some users do report symptoms of addiction, including tolerance, withdrawal, and cravings, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Although MDMA may or may not be addictive, it is still important to be able to recognize the signs of addiction, especially if you or a loved one is at risk of developing substance use disorder.
If a loved one is addicted to Ecstasy or Molly, he or she may show some of the following signs:
- Experiencing strong cravings for MDMA.
- Being unable to stop the drug use despite the negative consequences.
- Developing a tolerance and needing more frequent and higher doses of MDMA to achieve the desired effect.
- Neglecting important obligations at school, home, or work.
- Feeling withdrawal symptoms after the effects of MDMA wear off.
Some people who are addicted to MDMA may also report symptoms such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
Although there is no definitive treatment for Ecstasy/Molly addiction, the NIDA reports that behavioral therapy is helpful for clients who are seeking a life of sobriety.
Before any type of addiction treatment can begin, most people will need to complete a medically assisted detox program to achieve a stable state of sobriety. If a person believes that he or she is addicted to MDMA, he or she may need to complete drug detox before enrolling in a drug and alcohol rehab program.
Medically assisted detox programs help clients achieve sobriety by treating uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms associated with MDMA withdrawal, including:
- Panic attacks
- Mood swings
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle stiffness
3-6 hours after the last dose: Confusion, paranoia, insomnia, and depression are common during this time. Extreme cravings for more Ecstasy/Molly can also be expected.
2-3 days after the last dose: Individuals may feel easily irritated, anxious, and physically/mentally tired. Some people may also feel depressed and experience a loss of appetite.
Up to 10 days after the last dose: Some people may experience muscle stiffness or hallucinations. Cravings may continue for several weeks but will weaken and eventually fade completely with time.
For those who choose to attend drug and alcohol rehab for MDMA addiction, programs that last 90 days or longer are recommended for lasting and more positive treatment results. 30-day programs simply don’t provide enough time to learn and practice the skills and tools needed to maintain sobriety long-term.
Long-term rehab assists addicted individuals and helps them adapt to a life of sobriety by providing coping strategies, life skills, and behavioral therapy to modify negative attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs that contributed to the addiction.
A person may choose to enroll in inpatient drug rehab, outpatient drug rehab, or both. Inpatient rehab is held in an addiction treatment facility and clients are required to live there throughout the course of their program. During their stay at the facility, clients attend individual and group therapy sessions, educational lectures, and 12-step support groups.
Intensive outpatient drug rehab programs (IOP) provide a more flexible addiction treatment option for those who do not have access to childcare or who are otherwise unable to commit to a 90-day inpatient treatment program. IOP consists of a series of group meetings held at a safe and secure location. Each session covers things like life skills, 12-step group work, coping strategies, addiction education, and relapse prevention.
Drug and alcohol rehab programs will vary in cost but there are several ways to pay for treatment. Medical insurance and Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) may help cover some of the cost of drug rehab. Clients may also choose to take out a personal loan to finance the cost of addiction treatment. Or, if the client is able, he or she may prefer to pay for treatment out-of-pocket.
Sober living homes provide a transitional living environment for individuals who have recently completed a drug and alcohol rehab program or who have recently relapsed and would like to have continued support to get back on track.
Transitional housing programs require that residents adhere to their sober living community rules and maintain a substance-free lifestyle and living space. Programs include recovery support services like personal monitoring, coaching, and drug and alcohol testing for a structured living situation that prepares residents for independent sober life on their own.
The cost of transitional housing programs varies based on the room type, the location of the sober living home, and any additional recovery services such as IOP or Aftercare.
Aftercare programs are designed for alumni who have completed inpatient rehab and sober living programs. These group sessions meet weekly and serve as check-ins for individuals who are living independent sober lives on their own.
Aftercare groups are helpful for those who wish to continue their sobriety long-term or for the duration of their lives, as they provide consistent support from a group of like-minded individuals in recovery.
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