What is MDMA?


MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine) acts as both a stimulant and a psychedelic. It energizes the user and distorts perceptions of time or physical senses. Often used in a social or party context, MDMA users often encourage one another to take more of the drug multiple times in a short period, or to take more when its pleasant effects turn unpleasant. Such methods, when done habitually, put the user at risk for addiction. MDMA is a Schedule I controlled substance with no proven therapeutic value. Usually swallowed or snorted, MDMA can be found as a water-soluble white powder, or available in colorful tablets often stamped with a variety of symbols.

MDMA can be called ecstasy, XTC, X or Molly. While MDMA itself is a dangerous substance, there is no way to control the quality of an illicit substance, meaning the drug could be cut with fillers and other drugs, such as caffeine, ketamine or even opiates. Not knowing exactly what you are consuming can easily result in brain trauma, overdose or death.
Stimulants such as MDMA are popular drugs of abuse; their users span the entire spectrum of social and economic classes. While MDMA has gained the most popularity in rave and club culture, anyone can find themselves hooked on MDMA in its various forms. Repeated use of stimulants may significantly alter the balance of chemicals in your brain, affecting your mood, sleep, energy level, and most importantly your thinking ability.

MDMA addiction dangers and effects

When ingesting or snorting MDMA, the following effects are common:

  • Euphoria
  • Distorted perceptions
  • Increased energy
  • Increased physical sensitivity and sexual arousal
  • Increased body temperature
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Sensation of “pins and needles”

When the high of MDMA disappears, MDMA users may “come down” by experiencing the following:

  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Aggression
  • Impulsiveness
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Thirst
  • Lack of appetite
  • Reduction in mental abilities
  • Reduction in sexual interest and pleasure
  • Extremely low energy and motivation

These “comedown” effects may tempt the user to take additional MDMA or other substances to feel better.

Serious medical complications can occur with MDMA use:

  • Nausea
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Jaw clenching and teeth grinding
  • Muscle cramping
  • Blurred vision
  • Dehydration
  • High blood pressure

MDMA overdose symptoms include:

  • Faintness
  • Panic attacks
  • High body temperature (hyperthermia)
  • Abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia)
  • Liver, kidney, or heart failure
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Death

These symptoms can be deadly if not treated immediately.

Habitual MDMA use changes the physiology of the brain. Serotonin neurotransmitter release is profoundly changed, altering the brain’s reward pathway for the worse. Chronic use of MDMA can damage a person’s ability to feel pleasure and increase the risk of permanent problems with memory and learning. With these neuronal imbalances, MDMA addiction is truly a chronic brain disease, and at Enterhealth we treat it as such.

MDMA withdrawal symptoms

Most stimulant withdrawal signs and symptoms usually begin to occur within twenty-four hours of the last dose of stimulation.
MDMA withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Nausea
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Excessive hunger
  • Depression
  • Significant problems with memory and thinking

These problems vary in severity and duration depending on the amount of MDMA taken and duration of use. Some people use stimulants to counteract the drowsiness or “down” caused by sleeping pills or alcohol. The “up/down” cycle is extremely dangerous and hard on the body. Stimulant withdrawal can produce profound loss of energy and very intense cravings, which frequently result in relapse back to using and even death. The type of stimulant used affects how long it takes for the withdrawal symptoms to subside.

MDMA withdrawal stabilization

Brain chemical imbalances caused by MDMA addiction can cause severe cravings during the early sobriety period (up to twelve to eighteen months after stopping the stimulant) and both these severe cravings for the stimulant, as well as trouble thinking clearly, can cause an elevated risk of relapse to stimulant or other drug use.

Unfortunately, no medications have been specifically approved for the treatment of stimulant dependence by the FDA at this time. However, a variety of medications for stimulant addiction have been tested in numerous research trials sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. Some of the more promising medications used for this goal include topiramate (trade name Topamax) disulfiram (trade name Antabuse), gabapentin (trade name Neurontin) and naltrexone (trade name Vivitrol).

MDMA addiction treatment options

An evidence-based combination of therapeutic and pharmacological addiction treatment can help those with MDMA addiction regain a stable and productive life. Research shows that integrating both types of treatment is the most effective approach to restoring a degree of normal function to the brain and addressing underlying issues.

Enterhealth Ranch provides supervised drug and alcohol detox (also known as withdrawal stabilization) services for MDMA addiction, which includes science-based medication therapy and medical staff available onsite daily.

Effective behavioral treatments for MDMA addiction can be administered in a residential or outpatient setting. A treatment plan may include:

  • Psychiatric assessment and treatment
  • Psychological evaluation and treatment
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy sessions
  • Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)
  • Wellness, nutritional and stress management treatment services
  • Medication management

Enterhealth Ranch and Enterhealth Outpatient Center of Excellence offer the full continuum of care including residential and outpatient treatment options, both integrated together for the patient’s individual situation. During the residential phase of treatment, patients live at our 43-acre ranch facility while undergoing treatment. Among many other treatments, patients attend addiction recovery therapy sessions that are specialized to each individual’s addiction challenges. Upon completion of the residential rehabilitation phase, the patient can transition to our outpatient facility, where patients receive continued, medically supervised treatment while living at their own residence.

Through therapy and counseling for MDMA addiction treatment, the psychological aspects of dependency can be better understood by the patient and addiction can be completely overcome. Counseling may be individual or group-oriented, and may also include the family. Continuing care programs are also available, as they are essential to provide counseling and continued support over a number of years.

MDMA addiction recovery with Enterhealth

People suffering from MDMA addiction may feel hopeless, but they are not alone. Enterhealth Ranch and Enterhealth Outpatient Center of Excellence can help you or a loved one begin recovery at our 43-acre residential MDMA addiction treatment program just north of Dallas-Fort Worth in Texas, and our outpatient MDMA addiction treatment program located in the Preston Center area of Dallas.

At Enterhealth, our goal is to treat the whole person for a lifetime. We offer a better chance to recover through our advanced, evidence-based treatment approach, designed and administered by board-certified addiction psychiatrists, physicians and other experts, that is proven to be more effective than traditional twelve-step approaches.