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MDMA REHAB: treating the abuse of MDMA

MDMA is a substance that can cause severe damage to the brain and negatively affect overall wellbeing. Here’s what you need to know about the drug.

MDMA Rehab

Article Contents

What is MDMA?

3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine, most known as MDMA, is a synthetic drug that alters the mood and acts as a stimulant and hallucinogen. Developed in 1912, medical professionals experimented with the MDMA drug in the 1970s for potential use in psychotherapy. However, it failed to get approval from the FDA, and the substance is now illegal. MDMA is reported to be an entactogen, which means it increases awareness and empathy. The drug distorts time and perception to increase pleasure from sensory experiences.

MDMA Street Names

The most common street names for MDMA are ecstasy (which is the tablet form of the drug) and molly. Molly is short for “molecular” and is the nickname for the powder form of MDMA usually available in a capsule. The drug can go by other street names including:
  • Adam
  • Beans
  • Biscuit
  • Clarity
  • Lover’s Speed
  • Hug Drug
  • STP
  • X
  • XTC
  • E
  • Eve
  • Go
  • Disco Biscuit
Although MDMA drug use is not common, it is on the rise. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 17 million Americans reported using MDMA at least once in their lifetimes. It was a 6 million person increase from ten years before that.1

How is MDMA Used?

When used in tablet or capsule form, the effects of MDMA usually begin within 30-45 minutes. The symptoms peak within 15-30 minutes after their onset and last an average of three hours, although it can last as long as six hours.

Physical Effects

Some of the physical effects of MDMA include:
  • Increased motor activity
  • Muscle tension, teeth clenching, and tremors
  • A rapid increase in body temperature or hyperthermia
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Sweating
  • Increased alertness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Severe dehydration

Psychological Effects

MDMA is mostly used for its hallucinogenic effect. It specifically affects three particular neurotransmitters in the brain: serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. The effects can cause:
  • Euphoria
  • Empathy
  • Confusion
  • Reduced inhibition
  • Energy and confidence
  • Reduced feelings of fear
  • Increased and excessive amiability
In a strong batch, some MDMA effects include:
  • Perceptual changes
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Floating sensation
  • Paranoia and aggression, leading to uncharacteristic irrational behaviors
Typically, MDMA is taken in pill or capsule form. It can also be crushed and snorted or smoked, but it is less likely to be taken that way.

Is MDMA Addictive?

Researchers are unsure of whether MDMA has addictive qualities. However, studies have established that animals will self-administer the drug. This behavior is a sign that the drug has abuse potential.2 While less addictive than other drugs, such as cocaine or meth, chronic use of MDMA is associated with both increased tolerance and withdrawal symptoms in the absence of the drug.

Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

Regular use of MDMA can cause many issues. Some signs of addiction include:
  • Recurring colds or flu
  • Liver and kidney issues
  • Cycles of excessive energy, sociability, etc., followed by withdrawal, anxiety, depression, etc.
  • Financial and legal problems
  • Increased tolerance
  • Memory issues
  • Work and social problems
  • Issues with concentration
  • Spending significant time getting, using, and recovering from MDMA
  • Continued use despite a desire to stop

Is MDMA Safe?

There are several reasons why MDMA is dangerous to take. One of the largest problems is that many drugs sold as MDMA are mixed with cheaper drugs, such as “bath salts,” cocaine, ketamine, and meth.
Mixing drugs can be especially lethal if an individual is unaware the drugs are in their system. People can unknowingly mix these hazardous drugs with other substances, such as alcohol or marijuana, and experience serious side effects.
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), many substances sold as MDMA were other drugs and had no MDMA at all.3 One large-scale study found that only 60% of drugs sold as MDMA had any amount of that actual drug in them.4 While still fairly new, there are recent reports of fentanyl-laced MDMA.5 Fentanyl is 80 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Because of how powerful it is, there is a significant risk of overdose and death.
MDMA also encourages unsafe sexual practices because it spurns feelings of trust and connection. It increases the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, or an STD. High doses of MDMA mess with the body’s ability to regulate temperature, which can lead to liver, kidney, or heart failure. It can even result in death in some extreme circumstances.
Researchers have also identified long-term changes in the brain structure with long-term exposure to MDMA. This drug use alters the brain’s problem-solving, memory, and attention.6 Far from harmless, MDMA has severe consequences for health and wellbeing.

MDMA Recovery

While there is no formally recognized withdrawal syndrome, those who have stopped use do report some symptoms of withdrawal, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Impulsiveness and aggression
  • Insomnia and sleep issues
  • Mood problems, including irritability and anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of interest in and pleasure from sex
  • Cravings for MDMA

Typically, it takes about a week for the “crash” to peak, and withdrawal symptoms usually disappear in a month.

Treatment at an MDMA Rehab

There are no specific medical protocols for MDMA addiction. However, there are certain forms of therapy that MDMA rehab can offer that are helpful for long-term recovery.


Detox is the first step to end addiction. The body grows accustomed to consistent drug use, but MDMA rehab provides a safe and supportive environment during the time of transition to sobriety.


Therapy is an essential component of any recovery. It can help both the patient and their loved ones come to a better understanding and manage recovery. Therapy needs are tailored to each person and their situation. Most therapy includes:
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Care

While the symptoms of MDMA may not be severe, the need to isolate from bad influences and find positive support in the beginning steps to recovery might require inpatient care. However, intensive outpatient treatment can also provide the necessary treatment in the early days. Deciding whether inpatient or outpatient care is necessary is a personal choice. However, it is vital to seek support from MDMA rehab on the road to sobriety.

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